When I was 10 years old, my stepdad passed away unexpectedly. It was my first time experiencing death. My life changed that day; my entire family changed that day. We immediately moved to a new city, a new house, a new school. Moving and changing schools wasn’t new to me, but the undealt feelings were new. My sadness turned to anger. I lost my stepdad, but I had also lost my mom that day to her grief and sadness.
Previously, when we moved, I was always quick to adapt and make friends. I hated being the new girl, but I did my best to blend in and make the best of the situation.
Now, I had my guard up. I didn’t want to introduce myself or share about my family and where we came from. I started to fall into the wrong crowds. I felt so powerless over my own feelings and didn’t know how to deal with my anger. I became a mean person. I picked fights and was quick to react to someone before they could hurt me. I became a bully.
It was not until I was older and went to therapy that I understood how my undealt feeling of sadness became the seed for so much hurt and anger in my life and others. I learned that I can’t change what happens in my life, but I can change how I let it affect me and the way I treat others.
In most cases, bullies become bullies because they are feeling hurt or neglected, have been bullied themselves, or have gone through trauma. It’s so important to talk to our kids about how they are feeling and advocate for their mental health. As a parent, I now know the power of a conversation!
Tips for talking about feelings with your little one:
- Set a check-in on the calendar to continue the conversation
- Explain it's ok to be mad, but that we can't hurt others
- Art is always a great way for your kid to express how they are feeling
- Create a "quiet corner" where your child can have big feelings
Discussing bullying with your child is also important because it will teach them signs to look for and make them feel more confident in asking for help if they ever find themselves in a situation where they are being bullied. Conversation about their feelings paired with education will also decrease the chances of your child going down the path of becoming a bully and increase the chance of them standing up for themselves and others.
- Do you know what bullying is?
- What are different ways someone can bully? (i.e. - words and actions)
- Have you or a friend been bullied?
- How did it make you feel?
- If you see someone being bullied what are some things you can do to help? (ex. tell a trusted adult)
- What are ways you can stand up for yourself?
- Share your own story and how you dealt with the situation
We also have additional tips available in our Tips highlight on our Instagram!
If your child is struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help! School counselors and therapists are great support systems. You’ve got this!
[photo credit: parentingscience.com]