Working as a Family to Fight the Bully Problem

Yesterday I started offering up some suggestions on how to stop bullying. Today I will be talking about the same thing, but I am going to focus on what you as a family can do.

Kirk Smalley asked us movie goers how we greet our kids when they get home from school. Normally we say:

Parent: “Hi! How was your day?”

Kid: “Fine.”

Parent: “Good!”

And he said we leave it at that. But to myself I was still carrying on a conversation. My husband and I don’t let it go at that. We ask our daughters about specific things such as a test they took, we ask about how the teachers were, we ask about how the other kids were in their class. If you ask a specific question it’s harder for them to just say “fine”.  Ask them what the best part of their day was. Ask them what the worst part was. Ask if anything funny happened. Did anything sad happen. You get the picture. Specific questions will get you specific answers.

If your child will only give one word answers, then ask more questions. Keep asking until you’ve gotten a good feel for how their day went. Read their body language. That will speak volumes. If you can’t get them to speak up at all, hug them and let them know when they are ready to talk, you are there to listen. But don’t give up. Do it all over again the next day. Hopefully, sooner or later they will open up to you.

I know we are very lucky because we have a good line of communication open with our girls. Way back when they were little I read an article that said listen to every little thing your toddler and preschooler has to talk about because this shows them you care about what is important to them. When they are older, they will feel comfortable coming to you with the big stuff. I have found this to be true. We listened to hours of talk about bugs, kitties and elementary school social scene updates. Not all of it was interesting and honestly was sometimes mind numbing, but because we listened and responded back, our girls knew we cared about everything that was important to them.

Every evening before we go to bed, we turn off the tv and just talk. We make our plans for the next day, remind everyone of who needs to be where and when. We talk about their sports, we talk about friends, we talk about our family issues, sometimes we just work on homework. But it’s our family time. They are center stage to me and my husband during this time. We are “plugged in” as some psychologists would say.

We are not a perfect family. Far from it. We have our issues just like everyone else. In fact this bully issue has put a lot of stress on all of us. We have been edgy, angry and not always handling things they way we know we should. The series of bully programs we were exposed to over the weekend helped us remember how we should be dealing with our emotions and we are getting back on track.

See, it is a process. One that never ends. You can never stop. My husband likes to say “it’s all about the kids now.” In a way he is right. From the minute they were born, they became the most important people in the world to us and we have made them a priority. But we also have to take time to nurture our marriage so it continues to be a positive model for our girls. Our home has to be a happy place, a place filled with love and comfort for them, as well as for us. If we don’t take time out to nurture our marriage and each other, then we begin to get resentful, edgy and angry again.

I am learning more about how to do this from a blog I just found called womenlivingwell.com. Courtney is a strong Christian woman with very similar ideals to mine. I just found this blog Sunday and already I can’t get enough of it. Some would say her life is old fashioned, but it’s exactly the life I’ve always dreamed of and strive for. As I read more from her blog, I will be sharing what I learn and implement into my own marriage and family life.  I’m very excited to dig in and start doing the things she suggests.

Now for an update to the bully situation in my own town. Yesterday my daughter and a few other girls helped a friend that had been bullied. The friend did not want to tell the principal that she had been bullied. With some urging from my daughter and the other girls, this girl got up enough courage to go and tell the principal. I couldn’t have been prouder of all those girls. They are not going to take it anymore. They lifted up their friend with positive talk and courage and they made a difference! Congratulations girls for being the positive change!!

Til next time kids!

sjb

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