Last year Hunter had difficulty with a class “silent bully.” He defined a silent bully as one who waits until no teacher or adult is watching and then makes his verbal or physical jabs.
This turned him from a happy, loving-school-kid to an angry, not-wanting-to-attend-school-kid. School was unsafe to him. He got ill repeatedly. He was no longer king of himself, much less any mountain.
When asked to go to Florida to help nurse an ill friend suffering from cancer, I took Hunter with me. He needed help. He went to anti-bulling counseling at the Mace Kingsley Family Center.
He became calmer, happier, and healthier.
Key lessons taught:
- Communication to a teacher. If that doesn’t work, to the parent; but that will only work if they DO something about it.
- Show no negative reaction to the verbal taunting, that’s what they are looking for; which we discovered was easier said than done if not practiced or drilled.
- Enforce new rules at school preventing physical touching.
- Stiffer penalties when no-touching rules are violated; some of the best penalities are thought up by the kids themselves. Hunter thought up 20 push-ups by both parties, as it is not always easy to discover which kid did what really. This penality was well liked by the kids and teachers, as it was easy to enforce. Kids were embarrassed to be found doing push-ups right there in the classroom. Bullying became more uncomfortable for all so there was more of a group effort to end it.
- Teach and show by example the ideas in Way to Happiness – Making Good Choices.
But, I discovered there was at least one key lesson that Hunter missed, which had a tendency to turn him into the bully when not used.
We returned to school in August. The bully no longer attended school there.
We enrolled Hunter in Judo classes for future self-defense; Judo being far more effective for self-defense than TKD at his age we felt.
All seemed well until he graduated into a higher grade, with older students. Stories came in to us after school of one older kid taunting and physically shoving on the playground during recess.
This time, Hunter was far more aggressive; refusing to go down without resistance.
The school increased supervision.
When I enrolled in a new teacher-training program at the school, I volunteered to supervise during recess. On my first day, I broke up a fight between Hunter and this apparent bully.
Upon investigating, Hunter started it. He wanted the ball and the older kids were not letting the younger ones play. He grabbed it and ran. He was chased and tackeled. Boy instincts took over. This was his solution to weak communication and negotation skills, skills that are vital in any professions to survive in today’s world.
As the adult, I have the responsibility and power to CHANGE some things. I implemented a schedule to alter play times on the court between body size groups. I revived soccer as a viable alternative, so others could play another game instead of crowding the basketball court. I pumped up flat balls so there were less arguements over who gets them.
I purchased new playground equipment as a playground without enough distraction will encourage kids to find or invent their own games, not all of which are kind; which is a KEY POINT commonly missed. The easiest thing to miss in a problem is something NOT there that should be.
I spoke with both of kids, appealing to their better sense to get along. That alone, helped the most. They agreed to a truce, terms of which they worked out themselves and between themselves.
I created a large chart reflecting the Way to Happiness, Making Good Choices points for the lunch room. I taught my first lesson on the subject to the older kids. These booklets and lessons are available for FREE to all teachers and schools who want them.
As the days rolled by, I observed Hunter picking the disagreements, mainly due to frustration when not getting his way. When he couldn’t make something go his way with communication, he used force in his voice, kick the ball away, throw a fit, or other responses.
It appeared by that my bullied kid had actually become a bully. Ouch!
Hunter has not learned that it is perfectly all right, if not a necessity in life, to be nice to people. There is nothing weak about it.
You personally suffer when you are mean without reason. Yes, stand on your own two feet. But No, do not give in to your urge to be mean or hurtful because you can’t or won’t use communication and other tools to make things go your way.
This is a lesson my husband has perfected and I lack in skill at times. I had to come to terms that he has learned by example, including my own.
We enrolled Hunter in a children’s communication course, with the end goal of acquiring these much needed skills. I am working to refine my own skills.
This is not over, but it is far easier to confront and deal with it now, at his age, than to let it fester until teenage or adulthood, when the penality severity increases and is enforced by the law – not the family.
This is a painful subject for a mother to talk about; No one wants to admit it is his or her child who has done some bullying and that some of their tendency to bully has come from you.
This, too, will come to pass, but only as long as I don’t run or hide from it.