Raise bully proof kids who are healthy at home and strong in the world with this simple, yet controversial parenting lesson.
It’s a harsh topic, but our kids are growing up in a tough world.
Recently, my 7 year old son told me that a boy was always mean to him on his bus. I pulled out some milk and cookies to cheer him up and talk about it. When I asked why, he said the boy told him that he “just didn’t like” my son.
My son didn’t take it incredibly hard, but I felt as if I was stabbed in the heart when those words left his little, milk-mustached mouth.
This behavior is not “new school”. I remember diving into a seat on the school bus as a kid to stay under the radar and avoid the bullies who sat in the back of the bus. As parents, as much as we preach anti-bullying – it will still happen. And (without sounding too much like a Debbie Downer) this behavior doesn’t always end with grade-school.
The fact is, there will always be people out there that don’t like you. That’s life.
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Not Everyone Will Like You, it’s a Fact
While I realize that some children are more sensitive than others, and some bullying situations need serious interventions, I see three strong benefits of teaching your kids that they will not always be ‘liked’:
First, It Will Prepare Them For The Future
You will not always get the prom date you wanted.
You will not always get the job you interviewed for.
We all have times in their lives when we feel un-liked or rejected. Understanding how to cope with these emotions, at a young age, will provide opportunities for important life lessons.
Secondly, This Lesson Will Train Them to Feel Comfortable in Their Skin
The sooner we learn this lesson, the sooner we can let go and be ourselves.
Looking back at the time I spent in middle school, and I feel that I was not a genuine person. I wanted to be liked by everyone; therefore, I agreed with everyone and was the definition of a follower.
It wasn’t until I stopped caring about what other people thought that my true personality broke out.
Also, it Will Coach Them to be “Bully Proof”
When I was in 5th Grade, a boy in my class loved the little kid show Sesame Street, particularly the furry, red puppet Elmo.
At first, all the other kids laughed at his silly obsession. When they realized that the laughter didn’t bother him, everyone slowly started to see things differently. No joke, by the end of the year, everyone started to love Elmo.
The point is, when you are confident with yourself, you are able to see who and what really matters.
For more, read: How to Raise a Self-Assured Kid, not a Doormat
5 Steps to Gently Raising Bully Proof Kids
It’s all about the approach.
Serving them with a swift “Not everyone will like you, kid”, may not deliver the loving message that you intended.
These 5 tips will guide you through raising kids with thick skin:
1) Listen and Comfort Them
First, if your kid had difficult encounter with another child, they will need your comfort.
Encourage them to talk about how they feel. Support them through the discussion, but most importantly listen to them.
Make sure they understand that, no matter what, you will love them unconditionally.
2) Build Their Confidence to be Bully Proof
After listening to their story, make sure you make them feel loved and valued.
Show them affection, and tell them how great of a person they are.
Are they funny? -Artistic? -Athletic? -Smart? Highlight how much you love a unique part of their personality.
Tell them they should be proud of who they are.
Also check out: How to Stop Being a People-Pleaser
3) Trust Your Intuition and Be Honest With Them
You know your child best. If you feel that your child can handle an honest discussion, then you have provided a safe environment to start this conversation.
Explain to them that throughout life everyone experiences times when they may feel rejected. Everybody is different, and not everyone will like you. That is just a fact.
This should not stop them from being true to themself.
4) Give a Personal Example
Do you remember a time as a child when you felt like someone didn’t like you? Was there a time, as an adult, that you felt rejected?
Empathize and relate to them. By giving your child an example, they will realize that they are not alone.
5) Moving Forward
Lastly, it is important to discuss what to do moving forward. My husband and I talk to our kids about when they should talk to a grown-up or get help.
We also teach them to respond with a ‘whatever-attitude’ if they don’t like the way someone is treating them.
Simply say “Whatever”, and walk away.
Teach them about true friendship. Encourage them to find friends that they can rely on and trust.
Related: How to Raise Kids with Grit
Final Thoughts on Teaching Kids to be Bully Proof
Raising three kids has taught me that being supportive, yet honest with my kids is the best method for us.
As a parent, only you can know what is best for your child; however, I feel that boosting their confidence and teaching them to never hide who they really are great way to prepare them for the future.
If you disagree, then “Whatever” [wink wink].
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