What to do When Someone is Mean to Your Child
This sounds neither motherly nor Christiany, but here’s the deal: I hate mean kids. I do. I hate them. I want to gather them all up by the nape of the neck and flick them in the head, one by one (I don’t want to abuse them. Just a flick.) And then I want to lock them all up in a room, so they can leave my children alone and, instead, live out the rest of their days being mean to each other with sore neck napes. (Again, not abusively…I just want them to stay away from my kids.)
But, that would be wrong and bad. And also, illegal. And not at all like Jesus.
The other night my 12-year-old walked off the basketball court with his head hanging low because a mean kid on his team was mocking him.
“Every time I complimented someone on my team or said, ‘Nice shot,’ this kid imitated me and laughed at me. He just kept doing it even when I asked him to stop. I don’t understand why kids always make fun of me. Sometimes I just feel like the whole world hates me.”
One Mean Kid can make him feel like the whole world hates him.
Mean Kids carry a lot of power.
(Cruel irony: I signed Elijah up for this team to help him gain self-confidence and make friends.)
I don’t normally confront other children. In fact, I can’t recall a time when I ever have. But this incident made me angry and before I knew it, I was marching up to Mean Kid to give him a talking-to.
I calmly (kinda) approached Mean Kid and said, “Hey. I want you to be careful how you talk to my son and your teammates or I’ll be talking to Coach and your parents about it.”
(Oooooh…SCARY! Clearly, I hadn’t planned out my threat. It all happened in less than 3 minutes. I mean, as an adult, what exactly do you say to frighten the crap out of a Mean Kid–that is legal and moral? I’m gonna flick you in the head and lock you in a room???)
Mean Kid immediately straightened up and said, “Sorry, Ma’am.” And then, after what looked like a talking to from his father, he approached me a few minutes later and said, “I’m sorry again, Ma’am.
Oh, you BETTER call me Ma’am, Mean Kid.
I guess I did scare him, after all.
Then I searched the gym for my deflated and defeated son to put my arm around his shoulder and tell him I got in Mean Kid’s face and Mean Kid apologized.
Then Elijah leaned into me and said, “Thanks. I’m so glad I have a Mom who sticks up for me.”
Oh, yes, you do, Elijah. Yes. You. Do.
(Once a kid down the street picked a physical fight with Elijah—even pushing him and grabbing him around the neck. And Elijah threatened him with, “Oh, you just wait, I’m gonna tell my mom. And she does P90X!”)
(I don’t know if he thought I might actually go pummel this kid, or maybe challenge his mom to a push-up contest, or what.)
I know I won’t always be there to save my children from Mean Kids. In fact, the older they get, the less I’m there. The older they get, the more subtle the meanness gets. The older they get, the less likely they are to come to me. The older they get, the more likely the constant taunting will shape how my kids see themselves.
Since I can’t lock all the Mean Kids in a room, the best thing I can do is equip my children to handle the Mean Kids themselves.
The next morning at breakfast, I seized the teachable moment and gave Elijah a Life Talk.
I said, “Here are a few things I want you to know today:
There will always be mean people. There will always be people who don’t like you. Some people don’t like me. Some people don’t like Dad. It’s just the way it is. Jesus lived a perfect life—Like, He made NO MISTAKES and said NOTHING STUPID, EVER. But people hated Him, still. You can’t change that. All you can do is equip yourself to deal with hate in a healthy, productive way.
But that voice in your head that says, “Sometimes I feel like the whole world hates me”? That’s Satan. And that’s a lie. Not everyone hates you. There are way more people who love you than people who don’t.
Kids are mean for a reason. Sometimes, it’s because it makes them feel strong. Sometimes, they are going along with the crowd to be accepted. Sometimes, it’s because no one ever told them it was wrong to treat people that way. Sometimes, it’s because someone has been mean to them. But almost NEVER is it because of you. Don’t ever define yourself based on the opinion of the Mean Kid.
You should always tell an adult when someone is mean to you. Tell your coach, tell your teacher, tell me. Whether it’s mild, like at basketball practice, or major, like constant taunting and bullying, tell someone. A trusted adult will be able to tell the difference between the two and help put an end to it before it goes too far. And just FYI, I will ALWAYS be on your side.
Don’t be afraid to call the bully out. Kids who privately mock you behind a coach’s back are cowards. It’s okay to say, “Hey, stop it. We’re teammates and that’s not cool.” Say it loud enough for Coach to hear you. Shining light on darkness makes darkness go away.”
Then I leaned across the kitchen counter, looked him in the eyes and said, “If you hear anything I say today, hear this, Elijah. It’s the most important thing I’m telling you: Don’t EVER be the Mean Kid. Ever. And when you see another kid getting picked on, for the love of all that is right and good, go rescue that kid. Go put your arm on that kid’s shoulder and tell him you are on his side. Then go up to the Mean Kid and say, “Stop it.”
Some kids may be getting picked on at school AND at home. Some kids might have parents who abuse, verbally and physically. They may not have a mom and dad who love them and empower them to deal with bullies.
You could change his life if you stick up for him, Elijah. You might be the only one who sticks up for him! Be THAT kid. Be the one who sees the hurting, downcast kid and RESCUES him.
That makes you just like Jesus.
Finally, remember what the Bible says about sowing and reaping. If you sow encouragement, peace, strength and protection in your relationships, you will reap the exact things. You will find yourself surrounded by others doing the same to you and for you. You will attract friends who value the same things you do. God will see to it. God is on your side, son.”
Elijah’s countenance changed. I could see hope in his eyes. Hope that he had power to handle future Mean Kids. Hope that maybe he could change the life of a hurting child by simply sticking up for him.
And hope that if this kid messed with him at the next practice, I would go all P90X on him.
Whatever that means.
Comment Policy: Be kind. If you are rude, mean or disrespectful to me or to another commenter, I will delete your comment.
I address many of the issues raised in the comments in my follow up post: More on Mean Kids. I have also tried to respond to as many of the comments as possible. If you want to see how much this issue resonates with other parents, it’s worth your time to browse the comments.
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You just made me cry. First thing on a Monday morning. And it’s not my week for PMS.
As mom to a kid who was so defeated by the mean kids in her world that we needed to remove her from school, thank you. The most beautiful words I’ve ever heard/seen are, “Don’t EVER be the Mean Kid. Ever. And when you see another kid getting picked on, for the love of all that is right and good, go rescue that kid. Go put your arm on that kid’s shoulder and tell him you are on his side. Then go up to the Mean Kid and say, “Stop it.””
If all parents were preaching this same message to their children, the mean kids would be stripped of their power.
And I understand how you would come to the conclusion to remove your daughter from school. There’s nothing that brings out the Momma Bear more than your kid getting picked on.
I have never read your article before; however, I am a mother of two grown children and an educator for over 20 years. Just wanted to add as a parent I think you were very wrong for any adult to approach any child and say anything to them about their behavior. My child were hurt numerous times by mean children and we talked about how that made them feel and used it as a teachable moment about how they treat others; however, I would never approach a child. I normally never approached the parent because most of the time the kids will work the situation out. As a teacher; however, I would approach children at school and discuss the issue with them. Your child will encounter many mean kids and adults in their life, we are to be their safety net; not police other peoples children.
As a parent of two children as well, If my child were mocking another child and it was going un-noticed by the coach and unresolved by the children themselves, I would hope any parent witnessing it would step up and be a parent and a role model. As a parent and educator claiming you would never approach a child and you usually never approached the parent…. How then did you address it? To me you seem part of the problem simply letting the negative, hurtful behavior continue. Why not approach the issue at the root, heart, and exact instant it is happening. Take some control. Establish a zero tolerance for bullying…. Maybe save some kids from becoming mean adults
Sandy, I applaud you for taking RESPONSIBLE action to address the issue. You were not mean, rude or even harsh to the child. You just stated the fact, and let the mean child know that it was wrong. If more adults stepped in and handled situations immediately, this kind of behavior would not continue. Too many people do not want to get “involved”, and “it’s not my place.” Well, when I was growing up, my parents (brought up in a Christian home) taught me to respect ALL adult figures, and that if I had a problem with anyone, to come and tell them! And if we were being corrected by another adult, we respectively abide (within reason of course). My parents always made sure if they weren’t there that they heard both sides of the story. And usually the adult’s correction was justified. (Except one time when a nun spanked me in front of the class, then my mom just about came unglued! That’s a whole other story) Then when I had children, I was always glad when someone came to me and told me that my child was doing something they shouldn’t, because if I don’t know, I can’t correct the problem!! Don’t come to me after months of building fury, and then wonder why it comes to blows with fists! If it can be prevented, prevent it!! It’s time we as parents become PRO-active instead of RE-active!! Children do have to learn a lot of life’s lessons on their own, but we have to teach them how to deal with them first, which is what you did, Sandy!! God bless you and your family!!!
Great read. My mom didn’t hesitate to go to the mean child if she knew they were bothering me or my sis. And let me tell you….I will not hesitate to approach a mean child if they are bothering my children. Even though I want to go all crazy on them, it’s usually “the way you are acting isn’t nice. how would you feel if someone treated you like that.” And kudos for the dad making him come and apologize.
I’m sorry to hear as an educator Sarah you do not approach a child about their behavior when it is inappropriate, mean or cruel. I truly believe in it takes a village to raise a child. A child learns from each person they react from especially their teachers. As long as the adult confronting the child is not mean or cruel then it is appropriate. When children are not corrected when they are mean to others and they know others are aware, then they think it is ok. I expect my sons teachers to correct him when he is wrong and stand up for him when he is being picked on. I also expect the parents to tell me or say something to my child. I may not have caught it to correct it. If we teach them how to respect each other then there would not be so much cruelty. I do agree we also need to teach our children that sometimes no matter what people are just mean. They should know when to brush it off, when to stand up for themselves, and when to take a stand for others.
Educator or not these things need to be dealt with. I agree it is part of the problem. If I saw my own child being the bully I would have my own talking to with them. You are your child’s only advocate!
You’re right… we can’t be afraid to approach bullies and call them on their behavior. We are always saying it takes a village to raise a child and if a child’s poor behavior is affecting someone so drastically and is going unnoticed by their parents for whatever reason and a coach for whatever reason then it’s up to us to say your behavior is not ok. I’ve approached a child and told her something that was not at all threatening and she cried afterwards because she knows that she hurt my daughter’s feelings. Her mother however ended up coming and attacking me verbally in the sanctuary of our church. That’s uncalled for. When you call a child on Behavior that is true then it should be considered what their parent would do. If my child were acting hateful, I would expect an adult nearby to appropriately approach them and say your behavior is not cool you need to knock it off or I’m going to talk to your mom. It takes a village.
When my kids were coming up I always stood up for them when I knew they were being tormented. Not being the most politically correct person I never spoke sternly. I yelled. My kids told me I was embarrassing. Oh well
Agreed. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes that same village to repremand a child. My boys know that if any of the moms of their friends speak to them about their behavior, they listen. Teaching our children to respect each other and other parents is important. I don’t tell them they need to do whatever another adult tells them, but if they are misbehaving, they know that I have eyes everywhere, even when I’m not there. That is the beauty of my village. Bros I to you for being part of that boy’s village and helping him learn right from wrong. And bravo to his dad for witnessing it and having your back.
I totally agree! I have been an educator for 25 years and I have stepped in several times and helped children resolve their conflicts in a healthy productive way. Children need tools and sometimes their parents fail to equip them with those tools and when someone steps up and helps them, to empower them to be their best selves, society wins!
I agree, don’t be apart of the problem, become apart of the solution.
I respectfully disagree. Children or adults need to be told their behavior is hurtful. As long as it is always done in a respectful way. I would expect an adult who saw or heard my child say something or do something unkind to promptly say something. This is the only way they have a chance to learn. Teachers or their own parents cannot be there in every situation. We are all part of the solution.
As the father of 3 grown boys (men now), kudos to the dad in the story for making his son do what was right. Had one of my sons done the same mean behavior, after he appologized (and after we were out of sight) I would have dragged him by his ear to the car for some severe tongue lashing. And I would have instilled the fear of God into my son.
Glad u didnt teach my children…she was absolutely, positively,…..correct. Wish I had a mother like her….Oath Keeper…..
I was reffering to the 20yr…….educator…
Tom Josker, I agree with you 100%. Just because the “educator” had 20 yrs. experience does not make her wise,an expert or an authority on child behavior. I had a teacher like her – for 4 days. After I told my mother some of the things that were happening in the classroom, she pulled me out and sent me to a different school. I wish I had done this with one of my children, in an ongoing situation involving bullying and making fun of him. Unfortunately, I didn’t do it because he never told us. I cringe at the thought of what he went through.
What are you talking about bro
I just did this exact thing Tuesday. I was picking up my grandson at daycare (age 4&5 year olds) and there was a little boy that said “I’m going to hit you, you are stupid” to my grandson. I politely stooped down to one knee on the floor and looked in the little boys eyes and said “No, you are not going to hit anyone. You should never hit anyone & calling people names is not a nice thing to do either. No hitting, or name calling allowed”
My grandson came over to me immediately, and gave me a huge hug and said “I love you grandma”
As an upper elementary educator I know there are often two sides to every story.. Sometimes a child is truly getting picked on and is honestly being kind, and honest throughout the experience. However, more often there is a backstory that parents often don’t see or don’t want to see. I’m not saying there is a good reason or justification to use unkind words or actions in any situation, but I have seen many kids who are not compjetely innocent go home and cry when the other child stands up for themselves or points out a socially unacceptable behavior. If the same situations occur with different ppl involved you have to look at the common denominator. Im also not implying thats what happened here, just an observation of the thousands of kids i have seen. In any case, children cannot learn cultural norms in a vacuum. While it is hurtful and sometimes not right, inappropriate behaviors are often corrected by peers (sometimes learning is rough). I think our job as parents is not to fix it for them but to teach them how to fix it. Teach strategies to handle peers (both kind and unkind), coping methods, etc. I want to train my child to be a self sufficient adult. Although its difficult I can’t always be their hero and come to their rescue. They need to learn how to rescue themselves appropriately…. If I don’t tech them now, when will they learn?
Sometimes, it’s appropriate to let the kids work it out. But our society has moved away from a collective sense of responsibility for each other. If I saw another kid at the playground who was crying, I wouldn’t ignore that child and let him/her work it out. People need to step in when warranted, with adults and kids. As for a 2 sided story, sometimes this is the case, and a smart adult will be able to suss this out and make a decision based on that. But sometimes, there are kids who are just being mean, and sometimes little children are not equipped to deal with it. I see no value in a lesson there. What the kid learns is, no one is helping me. I am in this on my own, even though I don’t know what to do. That’s not a life-lesson I want any kid to learn. I want them to know that we will help them when they need it, and let them also learn and grow independently. So help them out, and then talk about what happened. Sure, there will always be mean people and it’s a useful skill to know how to handle it. But I am not going to ask my 5 year old to figure it out on her own.
I agree there are always two (usually more) sides to the story. It’s really important to understand what happened leading up to and following the bully-like behavior. I think it’s vital to teach our kids to take ownership for their behavior, good and bad. While I never condone bullying of any kind, I most certainly want to know how to equip my kids to read social cues and be relationally responsible so as to not provoke peers. Good point. 🙂
Thank you so much for saying this. The ‘not my child” mentality has gone on for too long. I am not implying this is the situation with the above article at all but I have seen it with my own son. My son, who is 2, was labeled a bully. Another child would frequently grab toys from my son’s hands and my son would react with a hit or push. I always corrected the behavior immediately but the other child would go screaming to his mother. No one would ever see or wanted to see what was happening before the hit or push, so it was never corrected and my 2 yr old got labeled a bully. I know it is total different with 2 yr olds but if you do not start correcting certain behaviors when they are young, they will pick up on the parent’s actions or inactions, they will go on to blame others for their problems or subtly provoke knowing they will get away with it.
Oh my goodness I can’t believe the comments by some of the “educators” on here. It is my job to equip my children as well it is my job to protect them when I need to. It is obvious that there is something going on with the philosophy of some of the educators. You do not simply let their peers work it out. You step up and step in. As a society we have become coddlers. We do have a tendency to overprotect our children. But look around you there are so many bad people out there that were not around when we were growing up. You did not see bullying on the scale tat it is today. For goodness sake children and yes I mean children are taking their lives because of bullying that was allowed to get out of control. We should not have to remove our children from school, the bullies should be removed. I applaud you action in politely approaching the child and defending your son. I would have done the same thing. I just pray that I would have remained as calm and remembered that he is a child and I am a Christian.
My daughter was called a gorilla by kids in middle school. I went to the principal and was told that the kids were just playing around. She went to high school, were others heard these same kids call her gorilla, so of course they began calling her that too. Again, I went to the principal. Again, nothing was done. So are you saying that my child deserved this because more than one child said it to her? I don’t care how you justify it, it is wrong. It is offensive, it is a racial slur and the adults should have protected her. It is the job of the educators to protect our children.
If you see it and don’t react, you’re condoning the actions.
I see a major problem with “teachers” these days who refuse to step in. They always hide behind the excuse that there are two sides to any story. In my experience, there are usually bullies who are very good at manipulating teachers into thinking that they didn’t do anything wrong and it was the victim’s fault, and bullied children who are not believed or taken seriously and get no protection from the adults at the school.
I do not have children, but I am a teacher of 24 years, I have a mother, and I was bullied from grades 5-9–and if going by the general definition in 2014 probably before that, too–and that by a cousin. That said 1) I was raised in an era where parents did in fact address the behavior of other children in our neighborhood (actually, we called it a platte) and in our community activities. It wasn’t considered a faux pas and as far as I can tell, it was never over-used or abused–and things seemed to be more peaceful. So I don’t see any fault here. 2) My mother was (and still is) the kind of mom who would fight a buzz saw if you harmed one of her kids–HOWEVER, what she did for me that was better than anything, is teach me how to stand up for myself and at the same time to forgive. For those bullies, we prayed every evening. This is the prayer my mama taught me to pray: Heavenly Father, I CHOOSE to forgive ___. I let go of bitterness, hatred, envy and strife. I CHOOSE to forgive them because Jesus forgave me when I didn’t deserve to be forgiven, and I pray that you bless ___ and send laborers and ministers across her path to lead her to righteousness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” And she told me to pray it every time I felt hatred for these gals. Needless to say, I prayed it A LOT!!! Meanwhile, she also taught me to stand up for myself. I was a fight avoider for sure; by nature, I’m a peacemaker. In one situation, she took me to where the young lady was and made me stand up to her. The girl said to my mother, “What?! You gonna fight her battles for her? And my mom replied, “No, I’m going to make sure that it’s one on one, just you and her, that your girls don’t get involved. And I’m telling you you’re only going to get one shot, so you better make it good!” Still cocky, the girl replied, “Oh, you gonna jump in then and whoop my a**?” My mom, standing about 2 feet behind me, said “Oh, no!” as she nodded her head toward me, “SHE’s going to knock you out with one punch, so it’s only fair that you get yours in first.” It was a surreal moment, but I admit I felt stronger in that moment. And what do ya know? Yep, bully-girl backed down. So, I encourage my nieces, nephews, and students to call the bully out. They will usually back down 3) As a teacher, I will NOT tolerate bullying–I lived through the stalking and the day when “kids will be kids” and “we can’t do anything about it until they harm/hit you” were the daily order. I’ve lived through begging my parents NOT to call the school–and I’ve lived through the thought that I had NO safe place to go, no one to go to in the school. So, I am up front with kids. If you tell me, I will be as discreet as I can be, but I will take this directly to an administrator who can help. I did it twice last year, and it makes me feel like I made a difference. 4) As a parent, if your child is being bullied, you MUST inform the administration and keep anecdotal records of what you shared and with whom you shared it. By law, administrators must take action–and most admins. I’ve worked with have developed pretty good forensic investigating skills and can ferret out the bully without having to use your name–but like every good detective, they need the lead. 5) And, Mom, you are right, the bullying is NEVER about the victim. Some 30+ years later, I have learned that the gals who bullied me were abused and bullied at home, so they were just passing it along. It doesn’t excuse it, but it makes me feel sorry for them that their childhood was rotten–it’s not an excuse and doesn’t make it right, it just makes it understandable. To conclude my missive, I’ll say that at least 2 of my former bullies are now Christians and are FB *friends* who *friended* me!!! Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all! 🙂
I just wanted to say I really appreciate your post.
Thank you for your post, and as a 43 year old mother of two boys who are pre-teens…. i’m ready. Between Sandy’s initial post, down to yours, I have learned and reminded myself of the past and the future. Please give us strength to deal with all that life has to offer us, and our loved ones. The good, the bad, and the lessons… Thanks again!
Beautiful – the most rational and loving I have ever seen on this subject
The best I’ve read! True , Godly wisdom here!
Absolutely disagree. This is very against the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ mentality and MUCH of the reason I feel bullying has become such a big deal. If my child were being a jerk to someone else I would certainly want another adult to stand up and say “Kid, that is not right and we (as a COMMUNITY) will not allow it.” Mom and Dad cannot always be there to witness and police every situation. I want my children to know that everyone is looking out for them AND for their fellow students.
Me too! I always tell my friends that if they see my kids being jerks, to call them out on it, stop it, and let me know. I give pretty much any adult free reign to correct my kids if they deserve it (within reason, of course). Conversely, I have no issue being “that mom” at the park, who disciplines other kids if their parents refuse to.
my thoughts exactly… and every village needs some police 😉
i think it’s healthy for kids to see that there are common ‘rules’ and ‘laws’ that we must follow to show love and respect toward others.
i also have no issue parenting other kids who need to be parented.
Totally agree BUT the problem is that with the increase of adolescent bullies has come an increase of adult bullies. I see more adult women bullying children in our community and on social media than I do children. Its disgusting and sad. How will this generation become better humans if their role models suck at it?
I’m sorry but sometimes a kid needs to be called out by an adult. It obviously worked out just fine.
I respectfully disagree with Kara. I am a 22 year educator and have witnessed my fair share of bullying. As a teacher and as a momma, sometimes you must stand up to the bully. I always watch to see if the problem resolves itself first. However, if it continues on day after day, I stand up and say, “Enough!” Way to go, Mom!
As a mom of 7, and a former teacher, I am thankful to teachers and parents who stop bullying in it’s tracks. I feel that if it isn’t stopped, it will continue and become a problem for years to come. I have had 2 children who were bullies. The first, after years of putting up with it, started cutting herself. The last, just this year, the teacher let me know. Told me what she was doing in the classroom. Told me to let her know what I was doing. I did end up talking to the parents. (There were 2 girls involved) It has become better, and my daughter willingly goes to school now. She doesn’t say she hates school everyday. (Maybe just once every week or every other week) I am very grateful for adults who will take a stand against bullying.
One time I found two boys actively beating up a smaller boy. I knew all three of the boys. This smaller boy was being picked up and pushed into a barbwire fence among other things. He was already a timid, shy child. He was cring and begging to be left alone. There was no way in Heck I was going to not confront those boys! I’ve had children of my own bullied and I learn from my oldest child’s experience never to let it go and assume they can work it out and become friends. The bully just got more cruel and my daughter got depressed, deflated, and even mentioned wanting to die. The bystander effect just makes the problem worse. If my kid was bullying someone, I’d want them stopped and I’d want to know.
I hate to say I somewhat agree with you. I’ve had conversations with bullies, and shockingly their parents were not receptive to my intervention. I would never again have a conversation with a kid without another adult witness. You could end up in legal problems, or you may find yourself in a confrontation with that kid’s parents.
Bob, That happened to me last fall at an 8 year old basketball game when an older brother would not move from the end of the court and was sticking his tongue out at the ref after he asked him to move and the parents ignored it. I kindly went up to him and asked him if he was sticking his tongue out at the ref and told him that wasn’t very respectful. I thought the 6’4″ father was going to pound me screaming in front of entire gym with his wife and children. I just walked away and said “yes I should have said something to you” Gee wonder who’s the bully here, really!! I have a 25 year old and 9 year old and it takes a village. I called them and apologized and he didn’t even have the audacity to apologize for screaming like a child. Will I get involved again? Yes I will if necessary.
Sandy you can’t lock every kid up. I just encourage better friends and if its a questionable one, have them to your house where you can monitor the situation. Talk to the coach about it first. He’s in charge. if he doesn’t respond talk to the parents.
Kara, I would have to disagree – It takes a village. I would however go to both the child and the parent. You must also be willing to investigate and hear their side as well. Children and adults both see their truths through their own filter. The coach must also be involved or needs to find another way to contribute.:-)
We are here to protect our children, and others. I saw a boy bullying another boy in a store. They’d scampered away from the mother and he (the bully- around 11 years old) was obviously taking advantage of what he thought was some alone time with the other boy (perhaps 7 years old). He’d commented on how stupid the other boy was at least 3 times when I’d finally had enough. I told him his behavior was HORRIBLE and told his victim he was nothing his bully said he was. The bully was very upset I’d confronted him and his face turned red. Maybe he will think twice before he berates another child. When I saw him in line with his mother and heard her talking, I knew where he’d learned the behavior. Sometimes it does NO GOOD to talk to the parents. If parents allow their children to run amuck in a store, alone, then I have complete license to say whatever I want to them. It DOES take a village when some parents have no clue what it takes to nurture caring children. Love the blog.
I agree 100% with the author and truly believe it takes a village to raise a child. Kids today are getting meaner and meaner and one of the biggest problems is that there is such little accountability and adults are afraid of calling out other children. You wonder why the juvenile homes and “boot camps” are full? Kids today have way too much power. I’m amazed a teacher would say such a thing! When I grew up you listened to other parents as well as your own.
Kara, I’m sorry on some level for your children. You taught them there were limits to your protectiveness as a parent. I’m sure they didn’t miss that lesson, and learned not to expect it from you. But my children learned the same lesson as many others here. They learned I just would not tolerate really Mean Kids running unchecked thru my kids lives like a wrecking ball. I was never horribly mean or nasty to those kids, but I assure you they and their parents knew to stay away from my kids with that kind of behavior. My kids of course grew up bringing home every stay friend in need of “protection”, lol. I’m not sure if it’s related, but we ended up with a household of professional firefighter/paramedics and nurses.
I grew up in the 70’s and this is exactly what parents did then. They got involved. Teachers and coaches got involved. You never heard of school shootings and children weren’t committing suicide every other day.
So, Kara, have you heard the expression, “Evil prevails when good men do nothing?” Doing nothing is why there is so much bullying in schools today. As a parent and ESPECIALLY an educator, I expect more from you to step in and put an end to the bullying. Shame on you for going all “righteous” on this blogger who is A-one in my book on how she approached things. Sometimes we do things without thinking because God is in control. God had her approach that mean kid and look what the results were.
Well said Sharon, teachers like Kara is what is wrong with our schools system!
I think she had every right in the world to approach that child and or that child with his parents. Kids need to be made aware when they are misbehaving or behaving poorly. and in the day and age there are a lot of parents who sit by doing nothing and let kids walk all over them. I could be in a store and if kids are running. I will say no running please in the store. if I see kids shouting in doors I will say please use our indoor voices when there is a roof over your head. im sorry if you see something you say something. its actually our town motto from our police station. my son and I were going into a fast food place to grab a bit. a small two door vehicle pulled up and boys got out. it was like a clown car. this tiny car who sat four had actually seven come out of it. two were in the trunk of the car. the boys as they began to hold the door for one another and then saw me walking with my cane and my son and held the door; I said to them I cant believe you all fit in that car. I know its none of my business but I want to make you aware please don’t ever ride in the trunk of the car again after you get home tonight and I hope you don’t have far to go. I explained to them that God forbid some other idiot on the rode were to hit them from behind that most likely the two who were in the trunk would be injured badly or worse. and that I was probably sure that all of their parents have explained everyone is to be in a seat and wearing their seat belts when the keys were given. I also explained to them that whomever was driving would be charged and most likely loose their license or face jail time depending on the two in the trunks injuries. and none of their friends lives are worth getting to eat a burger over. my son of course was mortified that I was even talking to these young men or not minding my own business. and I expected a smart remark from them like oh lady you don’t know what your talking about or you don’t know us shut up. but that wasn’t the response I got at all. I got a genuine thank you from the driver and he said I never thought or thought it through none of us did. thank you. thank you for caring about me and my friends. so I have to say I could not disagree with you more that she was wrong to approach a child. if she was disrespectful, yelled cursed or insulted him then yes that would be wrong. she did not. she made a statement letting the child know if he continued his bad behavior she would discuss it with the coach and his parents. she was letting him know his behavior was not acceptable he was acting poorly. ive always been told it takes a village to raise a child. I still believe that.
I am sure you are a very good teacher, but if no other person (namely the coach) is sticking up for this child, we have failed the child. I honestly believe more people should step up when it comes to bullying at any age. If you were on John Stossels “What would you do?” would you just stand there and let the child be bullied?
Sandy, your article is excellent, I have raised my four children, plus raising a niece. I commend you on how you handled the entire thing. Mean kids are mean for reasons, some of the ones you stated and another is they do not believe anyone is watching them or cares. You most likely helped the mean child by showing him people see and know what you do. The other thing, which is dangerous is they don’t care who knows or who sees. These kids grow into real bad adults. Anyway, you go Mama, it is your job to protect your children. NO one else is going to do it.
I disagree with you. If I see another kid misbehaving or being mean I will call them out on it! If their parent is there then I would go and talk to them. If my kid was doing it then I would appreciate another parent letting them know that their behavior is inappropriate. The kid needs to be told that what they are doing is wrong or they will think they can just get away with it.
My son was being bullied on the bus and I went on the bus and kindly told the kids that they were being bullies, I asked them if they wanted to be bullies and if they wanted someone to bully them. Fixed the problem and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Maybe those kids did not even realize what they were doing and how it affected someone else. I hope they were more aware after that and made different choices.
As long as the adult does not approach the child in a threatening way or says anything threatening, I do not believe that it is harmful for an adult to step in and say something. I will stand up for children, whether they are my children or someone else’s child if they are being teased, picked on, or bullied. Children often don’t have the tools to deal with it themselves, to work it out, as you say. If I saw someone call out my child for something they were doing, I would also be having a talk with them about their behavior and they would be apologizing. I was raised that I was not to behave in any way that would make another adult have to admonish me and if that were to happen, I was disciplined at home because my parents would have been mortified by such behavior. Same goes for my kids, we treat others how we would like to be treated.
All that being said, nothing raises the hair on mama bear’s back faster than a mean kid………
For someone who is a teacher for 20 years you have very little understanding of bullying research and child development. Holding a child accountable for their behavior is exactly what you are supposed to do.
I think the most important thing is that she did what her son wanted. “Thanks for standing up for me mom.”
Maybe an older teen would feel embarrassed for a parent intervening, but this is what he needed at this stage of his development and in this situation.
As for ‘not confronting a child’ I believe you are wrong. Had I confronted the bully from the start, my daughter would not have had to go through months of stress and fear at school. For weeks she looked to the teachers, guidance counselor & principal for help. I tried to see if she could resolve it by going through the ‘proper’ channels, but that was futile. It wasn’t until I threatened to bring the police and local news channel in on it did anything get resolved. I assure you, it this should ever happen again I WILL handle it directly with the child and the parents.
Mosie, you don’t need to defend yourself here. You know what’s best with your own child. You are doing a great job. 🙂
Kara, I’m a little more scared that you state you’re a teacher. Constructively I’d like to politely disagree with you because it’s this “let the children work it out” and “don’t police other people’s children” that allows gang violence, Lord of the Flies atmosphere, and pervasive bullying behavior to continue.
Instead we should calmly do what’s right, politely and respectfully. And when we see another parent intervene with our child we should say OOPS, I should have caught that earlier myself, not HOW DARE YOU speak to my precious, innocent little tyrant?
Amen to all those concerned that a teacher is advocating leaving the children alone to work it out themselves. Since when did adults abdicate their right to authority? Since when are the best people to teach our children how to be adults other children? School has become strangely normalized such that children growing up in multi-generational environments are seen as “strange” because they talk well to adults, and children who are quiet, surly, or “popular” are seen as “normal” because they are “like the other kids.” Let’s get back to what is really normal: children interacting across a range of ages, like humans do in society. School –which is taking up more and more of a child’s social time–is not really “normal” in the history of human development. And it sure doesn’t seem to be making better adults. I say this as an educator of 20+ years who gets them in college.
Honestly, if a parent corrected my child, yes, I’d be pissed off, because I’m a proud mama bear. But if my daughter did something that needed correcting, I’d swallow my pride and take it–or talk to my daughter about what went wrong. And if I disagreed with that parent, I would approach the parent. We’re all people here.
I have to say, I disagree with Kara. As an educator AND a parent how can you not intervene? That doesn’t solve anything and allows the bullies to keep bullying. In my opinion, I believe the writer of this blog did the right thing, at exactly the right time, for the right reason, and said the right thing to this mean kid. Kuddos to you momma bear 🙂
Sorry I don’t agree – whatever works. I never had anyone to go to when I was bullied. Had I had an approachable mother or even teacher I would not have had to stuff it and pray for healing a lifetime later. I was too shy and lacking in self confidence to help myself. That doesn’t change overnight. It takes years…
As one of those kids that was picked on and ostracized by all children I encountered my whole life from first grade to graduation, with the exception of maybe 10 kids. I had always wished a parent or any adult for that matter would have stepped in. As I am now in my mid 40’s that was a different time then. And I myself have two beautiful daughters that are like night and day in that department. One is liked by all and the other is bullied and picked on all the time. I am always having a talk with her on what can be done. But for a nine year old standing up for yourself is not easy because that usually draws attention and promotes more attacks from other kids. So, yes I would defiantly hope that if an adult witnesses this kind of behavior would step in, because having been on the receiving end for my whole childhood, no, it does not work itself out.
I don’t think she was wrong. I tell the children that their behavior is either mean or not nice, or if the parents are paying attention, which often are not, I tell them. For you to say is wrong, just makes me wonder the whole “American” way of parenting. I was born and raised in Mexico, and I see how disrespectful American kids can be. I’ve read so many stories about bullied kids, who took their lives to aid the pain, because parents and teachers did what you are suggesting, nothing. They let them work it out, and some choose death instead of speaking out. And it’s heartbreaking, because us, parents should be looking after our kids.
I concur with Elissa! It is PERFECTLY wonderful that parents are willing to “get their kids back”. If it hadn’t been followed up with the wonderful “teaching moment” discussion then there could have been a development of unhealthy dependency. But, Mom’s example and teaching were RIGHT ON!!!! Teachers are often caught up in a system that dictates what’s right and wrong that clashes with the healthy balance of family life. This is one example. Each situation is different and we do our best. Mom saw an injustice and called it out early on. Fortunately, mean kid’s parent caught it and supported what was right! Mean-spiritedness is like darkness. Teaching kids to shine light on the darkness is what our society needs! Way to go Sandy! Educator, that might have worked in your classroom. But, I love Sandy’s willingness to respond well!
Kara, I am very disappointed to hear an educator would not immediately approach a situation that involved bullying, by speaking directly to the bully and/or the bully’s parent. I agree with the statement earlier that said to “call the bully out, because they will back down.” None of us know what really is causing a bully to be this way, but most bullies are cowards and typically back down when called out. I never had a problem with bullying towards myself because I would stand up for myself. My sister and brother would be bullied at times though. We were very poor, being raised by a single working mother. My older sister had a condition that made her hair fall out as a baby and grew up with no hair and had a very shy and passive personality. My brother is just a wonderful individual with an opinionated, yet good natured personality. As a small child growing up and even now as an adult, I have been the person that stands up to bullies for other people. You MUST call a bully out. It breaks their stronghold. I certainly feel the same about approaching a parent, because I would want to know if my child was being a bully, so it would be stopped before it has room to grow. Thank you Sarah, for this post.
So does this mean as an educator that you would look the other way while one of your students was being bullied? If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem in my book. It also takes a village to raise a child. Your “letting them work it out on their own” is the reason we have such high suicide statistics.
With all due respect- I guess- you are part of the problem and not part of the cure.
I think we all as parents or even just part of the human race have a responsibility to help right wrongs particularly done to children. If no one corrects a mean child how do they learn ? Like her or not,maybe we should all embrace Hilary Clinton’s “it takes a village’.
Unfortunately this is the problem in the schools …everyone turns their back on bulling. Oh the kids will work it out mentality is why this problem exits. Nothing gets done until the parent steps in and demands action. As a parent I should not have to do this while they are in school. It is the schools job to not only educate my child but to also keep them safe. The teachers . Coaches, etc can not be everywhere all the time but if a child tells you this is happening take notice. Sure some kids are more sesative than others but when a complaint is made take care of it. Don’t you feel if these kids that are the bullies are disciplined every time this occurs that they would be more likely to stop their behavior. I feel this educator of 20 years is wrong on all accounts. The world has changed and along with it has the people and so should the schools whether it be educationally or socially.
We police our children now so they can learn to police themselves later. Takes a village…..
Love this article so much. This has only happened to us once, and I honestly so dumbfounded that I didn’t know how to respond at first. Thanks for posting this. Totally, totally disagree with Kara. If we don’t stand up for our kids, who will.
Just because you are a mother of two adult children and have 20 years of being an educator under your belt it gives you no right to blatantly tell her “you are wrong”. The way things are these days everyone is walking on egg shells because of statements like you just made…even those in authority (don’t want anyone upset)!
The other day my children were at the park playing while there were other children present whose parents were not with them. My child come over to tell me these children were rambling off numerous cuss words and being mean to them. Did I wait to find their parents? Nope. Did I approach them? I sure did. I find nothing wrong with an adult (no matter their status: parent, educator, etc..) to rebuke children whom are not acting appropriately. Also, if the parent gets mad over another adult approaching their child on their unacceptable behavior I think something is terribly wrong. I understand if another parent cursed and violently threatened the child, but to tell them their behavior is not ok and the next step is to tell their parents or coaches? How is that wrong? I don’t believe it is. T
Well there is more evidence that kids are NOT working these things out these days. 20 years ago, yes. But not in today’s society. And I think you did exactly the right thing. And I applaud you for it. You didn’t smack him, you didn’t curse at him. You told him upfront and simply it needed to stop. Good work. And I would have done the same thing!
As a parent of 2 teen boys, a teacher of 20 years, and one who has dealt with bullies, the bullied, and have had one of my sons bullied, I respectfully disagree. It’s fine to talk to your child and console them at home. It’s NOT fine to be there to see them bullied and not put a stop to It right then and there. Sometimes mean kids will bully others in front of the kid’s parent(s) they are bullying. You are well within your rights as a parent to put a stop to it in the way you did. I could not have been as nice.
You don’t approach the parent and you def don’t approach the mean children and assume it’ll just work itself out AND you are or were an educator? The questions of why has bullying gotten so out of hand has just been answered for me. Ignoring it does nothing.
Kara I would have to disagree with you…as a parent. Sometimes a child doesn’t understand the difference between “playing” and “being mean”. That child may have been just joking around by repeating what her son was saying. After being questioned by the Mom maybe it made him think. Not to mention, that’s the problem with some of these young kids nowadays. NO ONE wants to say anything to them or their parents. Don’t rock the boat…just ignore the bad behavior and maybe it will go away. Well, MAYBE, just MAYBE if someone were to intervene and say something it might steer the child in a different direction and make a difference in their life. If it doesn’t make a difference well, at least you tried. No harm, no foul because if a kid is going to be mean…they will whether you say something or not. It’s also a teaching tool for your own child. It’s ok to say something to the person being mean as long as you do it in a non-confrontational way. Show them that sticking up for themselves doesn’t have to mean being petty or violent. I can’t believe you, as a parent, say ignore the child. As an educator I would think that you would want to deter such behavior even outside of the classroom.
I am a Mom of four, and would have no problem with talking to a child, their parent, and the coach/teacher for being the mean kid. On the flip side, if it were my children that had a mean kid moment, I would want to know. I would like the chance to be a better parent and correct those behaviors. As long as the other parent remembered that they should talk calmly without cursing or physical touching, I wouldn’t have a problem with them correcting my child. I would still like to know about it though. Applauds for how you handled the situation. We need more parents like you!
Thank you, Sheila.
Approaching the mean kid doesn’t mean you are being hurtful to him. It in fact help him notice his mistakes. Often mean kids feel their actions are anything but mean. As adults it is our responsibility to help them understand what is happening. Not talking/approaching him or the parents would be the worst thing you could do to a mean kid and to others around him. Some teachers have this type of mindset, but you must know that from the perspective of the parents as well as the victim kids themselves, such teachers promote bullying by knowing about it and not taking any action. As simple as that!
Both my husband and I come from a small town where everyone looked out for each other and if a parent saw you doing something wrong they would step in…that included teachers. We were expected to be respectful of one another and to treat each other right. A teacher that looks the other way and thinks kids will work it out is being naive. Kids must be guided in the right direction and I would hope that if someone saw my kids being mean or doing the wrong thing that they would help. “Children need to learn to take responsibility for their actions so that they do not become adults believing that nothing is ever their fault.”
Actually, the parent was at that practice and did nothing until the kid tried to whine because she told him to stop. Then the parent sided with her and made him re-apologize. I don’t see anything wrong with her defending her son. The one who cares will step up for right. Usually it’s also the same person who would run towards trouble to rescue that same kid. If my child is out of line and another adult has to speak to her, she knows she’s misbehaved and will answer to me. And I still think parents should keep their children in line as well. I would have done the same. We can’t teach our kids to stand for what’s right if we sit and just watch wrong happen in front of us.
Too many adults have this attitude that ‘kids will work it out’ or that ‘someone else will deal with it’. ‘I shouldn’t step in since my kid won’t learn to deal with that situation’. As someone who was bullied all through school and now sees others bullied, using the same methods, IT DOESN’T WORK ITSELF OUT. EVER.
Get involved. The behavior exhibited by ‘mean kids’ is not ok. If you are a teacher in a school and witness bullying, you CAN do something. Citizenship grades exist, do they not? Make an example of the bully right there, in the moment, and let them know their citizenship grade has just been docked for the term. If they repeat the behavior going forward, they get docked again, and have a “U” in your class for the term due to the behavior exhibited in YOUR CLASS, which is in your control to a degree. The only way they can remove that “U” is in a meeting with bully, victim, both parents, and an administrator.
I respectfully disagree. A child should always feel that there is an adult that they can go to who has their back. Bullies and mean kids rely on the victim NOT telling an adult. This is what gives them power. Why would I ever relinquish my responsibilities as mom to a teacher, bus driver, counselor, etc.? God gave my child to me, not to them.
Kara this is my 25th year teaching and I have 2 children of my own, one in college and one in high school. I would want anyone to speak to my own children if they were mistreating someone. I think you are the one who is wrong. I believe we All need to stand up to bullies, as a model for our children as well as to teach bullies it is not acceptable. I think she handled it beautifully, in an age appropriate way. It is my job to protect my students as well as any other child I see being bullied. Just like I would stand up for any child being abused by an adult. How sad that you did not believe in this as a teacher.
You cannot teach your own child to stand up for what is right, while not doing so for them. I miss the days when people had respect for authority and elders were authority. My daughter knows if another adult has to verbally correct her behavior, it wasn’t acceptable. Most parents do not enjoy a verbal reprimand from another adult. However, I see a need for exactly this time and time again. Parents go to the parent of instigator with issues; parent asks child; child says no I didn’t do that; parent responds to other parent with my” child doesn’t lie” or ” you’re child started this” etc etc. The problem may never be resolved and the child will lose faith at a young age in authority and justice.
It’s not as if she physically attacked the kid. She informed him it wasn’t okay. “Hey. I want you to be careful how you talk to my son and your teammates or I’ll be talking to Coach and your parents about it.”It’s not a threat of harm but a way to remedt the issue. Isn’t that what happened in the old days? Someones mom had an issue with a kid they went to their parents. The parents then took care of it. I wouldn’t care if someone said that to my kid. Now if anyone laid hands on my kid that’s another discussion entirely. Talk is cheap if it works if not certainly move to the coach and parents. Kids need to know what’s okay and what isn’t okay. Maybe this mean kid will have learned from the situation and turned a new leaf.
So you just don’t want/like confrontation. That’s part of the problem!! If you , I, or the teacher never say anything to bullys who will!? I will approach any child, parent, person, animal or whatever to keep my child safe! From mental or physical harm. My daughter is very respectful and loves no matter who or what you are!
I didn’t see it as policeing as she dared to address the incident. I wish more people would speak up when people are not being nice to each other. Thus my respectful disagreement.
So no one else has the ability to correct a mean kid than an educator? That sounds very elitist and entitled. You can best be betting I’m going to stuck up for my kid, whether their educators like it or not.
I disagree with your stand against an adult not speaking to a child. As a child myself, I was accused of mistreating another child, and that child’s mother confronted me. Honestly, I don’t remember mistreating that child, but you can rest assured that I would never have done that especially after being confronted. That child had no father and the mother was only protecting her child. The schools can’t do a thing anymore, so I guess it is now up to individuals and parents to right wrongs in certain cases. Don’t be hard on this mom. All she did was threaten to tell the school or the parents. What is so wrong about that???
Kara, I understand what you are saying. We all have preferences on how to raise our kids. However, I often wonder if the reason the “meaness” seems to have gotten worse is because we have gotten away from the ” it takes a village to raise a child ” mentality. I personally hope if one my children is saying or doing something they shouldn’t be and I am not there to witness it, that another parent will step in and say something. We all know that kids are going to do things they shouldn’t and do it when they think they can get away with it. (Not always because they are mean but because they are kids) Kids have so many activities these days and are away from their parents more often than not. I think that we owe it to each other and society to step up when needed. I think the Golden Rule can and should be taught by everyone.
I am sure there were teachers, coaches, referees and plenty of parents present who heard the child and did nothing which is very common in schools now days. I would have stood up for my child and evidently it helped not only her child but the bully. Don’t critize unless you are doing a perfect job policing your students.
I too am an educator and a mother of 4. Any evening at our local playground you will find me reminding boys to stop throwing woodchips and stones, intervening when a group of boys has run off with a younger child’s bike helmet. And yes I have threatened to go get some parents when behaviour has escalated too far. I have treated them in the same way I hope someone would treat my child in my absence and they are showing behaviour that is unbecoming to what we expect of our children. Turning a blind eye to a child who needs help or intervening when another child is being cruel to another is ludicrous advice. As soon as it happens in front of me…the responsible adult, it became my business… the second it happens to MY CHILD…I will make no excuses for how I handle their protection. Obviously I would not harm the child in question but informing them of consequences and desired behaviour are completely appropriate ways to deal with it. They are kids…they are learning and it is the adults around them whose job it is to teach them what will and will not be tolerated. I am not sure what kind of educator you are but it doesn’t sound like you are being successful in this area. I would seriously rethink what you would do if a child is being bullied in front of you or hurting your child. Really? You don’t believe another adult has the right to step into this situation and handle it from a mature perspective when cleary it has become a bigger issue than the child alone can handle?
I think you are completely wrong and it is people like you who are empowering “mean kids” to continue their horrifying behavior. This is why there are so many lroblems inside schools now, because for some reason ” it isn’t okay to approach a child about their behavior ever”! Seriously what is the world coming to?
This is exactly what’s wrong with today’s kids! God forbid an adult hold them accountable for their behavior, be it their own mother, teacher or someone else’s mother. She was absolutely right to hold this kid accountable because obviously no other adult was going to. In my day the adults always got involved and we may not have liked it, but we knew that if our parents weren’t watching our behavior someone else’s was and we knew we better by gosh watch our P & Qs or we would get the wooden spoon when we got home. It is our job as adults to look out for ALL children like it or not. Glad you weren’t my teacher
Damn straight I would approach someone else’s kid! At least she did it calmly and respectfully. I have no problem speaking to other’s children. As an educator that does not give you the sole right to talk to other’s children.
Would you tell someone else’s kid not to litter in your yard, not to wipe boogers on your furniture, or not to kick your dog? Certainly. Then you should also let children who are depositing lies into your child’s mind, crossing physical boundaries, or any of the other hundred ways kids can be cruel know that their behavior is unacceptable and will require speaking to their parent, teacher, or both. Bullying only exists because it is tolerated and too slowly responded to in the home and at school. Weany parents and teachers produce weany kids with weak minds that the devil uses as his playground!
I agree with the choice to confront the mean kid- you did so in a nice way. One comment mentioned they disagreed with this, that you should have gone to the parent. In my experience with dealing with mean kids, most of the time the parent would do nothing and proclaim that their child would never do anything like that, thus the mean kid would continue. As the only advocate for your child, you need to do what is best for them in each and every situation.
Kara, I disagree. Don’t we all long for the good old days when the whole village helped to protect and raise the children? That means calling those kids out. Show them we care about what they are doing. But, of course, we should be even quicker to tell them when we see them performing good deeds.
And, she did mention it wasn’t the best idea to confront the kid. I’m proud of the dad for admonishing him and making him apologize. Sometimes we need a jolt to realize what we are doing is not acceptable, so we can correct it and learn from it.
I disagree you are part of the problem not addressing the child or parent . I was bullied back in the 70’s in school and the teachers thought it should work itself out . it DIDNt police itself out or get solved on its own. These girls were mean horribly mean . My mother finally had to threaten a Law suit on the school before they took action on these girls but the damage had already been done to my confidence etc.
my daughter a few weeks ago who is 12 was bullied by a girl and after school I spoke to her politely and told her if it happened again I’d talk to the principal and her mother . I will not put up with the behavior or subject my daughter to the hell I went through as a child in school.
I must say that I respectfully disagree with you to a point. I too am an educator, with 4 children of my own, one of which has high functioning autism. If the parent of the “mean” kid intervened, or the coach stepped in and put a stop to it, then there would be no reason for the victims parent to step in. However, if no one else stepped in to put a stop to it, then I think the mother had every right to intervene. She wasn’t abusive or hateful, she simply told the child to watch how he spoke to the other children, and not to pick on her child. If she were yelling and/or threatening, or placed a hand on him, then she would certainly be out of line. But that was not the case. If one of my children were to behave in that manner, and I were not there to deal with it, I would hope that another parent would step in and put a stop to the situation. Just my opinion
It takes a village. I completely disagree with you.
Disagree with that. Some kids will not have anyone correct them, and things that are unheard cannot go unaddressed. If a parent is there, talk to the parent, if not talk to the kid. I’ll stick up for any child that’s being bullied, even if he is not mine. Respect is something that kids are not familiar with today.
So disagree with you on her speaking to the child. She behaved in an adult manner without bullying the mean kid. It takes a village and the more we all work together with kindness and respect the better all of our children will be and we can hopefully help raise a better generation of adults
I would like to reply bc as a fellow educator and speech pathologist for 20 years as well…you would not be acting as an adult to not inform a child that they are being cruel, mean or causing harm to another child, animal or adult. There is no social law or secret that should discourage adults informing and modeling in an appropriate tone and manner. I would always take the stance that mean children and misguided children and victims -require those of us over 18 to be adults. Although this can be hard and maybe make some people uncomfortable I believe the bredth of research and current education push is to intervene, appropriately. It is our human obligation. Dr. Mcevoy has 25 years research unspderscoring the need for adults to intervene.
– simply put – to let kids work it out is weak. On the adults part.
So it is the rightful duty as a teacher to ensure other people’s children are behaving in a respectful manner toward one another. But a parent should not intervene or give guidance to another persons child when they have caused hurt and upset? I would “police” anyone’s child if I witnessed them being disrespectful or mean to someone, even if it wasn’t my own kid.
I agree the most effective thing we can do is teach our children skills to cope when things are tough and we aren’t around to protect them. But I also feel that unacceptable behaviour shouldn’t be tolerated and can be dealt with in a constructive and considerate way.
As someone who was bullied (verbally) on a daily basis throughout high school and raised by parents who neither taught me coping skills, nor intervened by approaching the mean kids or their parents, I have to say it’s taken me a long time to understand that the way I was treated was not my fault. And it was not until my late 20’s that I began to have the confidence to speak out against upsetting behaviours. I am now 32 and very well liked and respected by my peers, superiors and subordinates. I will raise my children to have the same. But it won’t take them so long to get there because of my guidance as a parent and adult.
I am not trying to personally attack anyone. However I feel It is this mind set that allows and encourages the “mean” behavior. Children need to be accountable for their behavior so they can learn to admit when they are wrong.
I too, am a mother of two grown children and an educator for more than 20 years. I can see your point–it possibly could come across as an adult trying to bully a child. However, I think there is a wonderful lesson in an adult going and talking to a child. It immediately places the child in a learning situation, and if the adult speaks respectfully and specifically to that child, the child then learns how to act like a responsible adult. Responsible adults don’t talk behind people’s back, instead they work out problems face to face. This child with the mean behavior hopefully learned this.
I would put one caution–don’t talk to any child in a private setting; protect yourself from allegations that might say that you were harming the child. Approach the child from the standpoint that you want to teach the child, not have combat with the child.
Personal story. When I was about four years old, older children told me to go up to the next black woman I saw and say,
Not knowing that it was a mean thing to do, I said it to the next black woman I saw. Instead of going up to my mother and telling her what I did, she spoke face to face with me. She shook her her head and said,
“And you looked like such a nice little girl too.”
Her words and her sad look, are forever blazen in my mind. I am so grateful for that woman teaching me that day that my behavior was unacceptable.
An adult, saying the right words at the right moment to a child can change lives.
I don’t agree. Kids don’t work things out a lot of the time. If bullying continues, a parent should say something either to the bully or their parent. I also believe in letting my kid punch your kid in the nose if they won’t stop their belittling behavior. Sometimes letting a child learn a few protective tactics empowers them and gives them confidence to dare protect themselves. I do feel that my child should not be a mean kid…ever. But taking some brat down can do a lot of good. I raised nine children so am speaking from forty years of raising children.
It takes a village. PLEASE call my child out if he is being mean. If we as adults can’t trust other adults what message are we sending our kids?
Totally disagree. You’re teacher side/rules side is showing. My father was a principal for 34 years, I was certified to teach (never taught, the money was hardly worth the crap teachers have to put up with now) as well and to me, this situation was the perfect example for a mom to step in. It’s not always perfect but sometimes it is. I know in my community if a mom said anything to one of the children along these lines and called a child on it/threatened to tell their parents it would end. Maybe it depends on your community, but thankfully our community welcomes parenting as a village.
Wouldn’t want you to be my child’s teacher. To let any negative behavior go on and NOT say anything is doing an injustice to both children.
When I was a child (in the 80’s), our teachers were amazing! They would make notice of the bullies and confront them, as well as their parents (yay parent teacher conferences). Many times the parents are not aware that their kids are jerks to others, and many times those issues actually never get worked out. Bullies in grade school grow into high school, then adult bullies. People need to take off the PC blinders and HELP the problem, not facilitate it.
A Concerned US Military Veteran
I know this is an old post, but what a horrible perspective!! My weeks are filled explaining to other children that they’re out of line when I see my poor son’s face look like he’s been slapped due to cruel kids ripping toys out of his hands, pushing him or whatever else they do that’s wrong. The caregivers are rarely around and if they are, they don’t seem to care that their kids are being terrible. This is my child and no one, no matter what age they are, are allowed to hurt him like that. My comments are typically along the line of, “this is a public place, you need to share” or “he was playing with that first, give it back” or when my son was shoved, I yelled “hey!” at the brat that did it. I think society has become far too lazy with adults on their cell phones instead of teaching moral conduct to their children. It’s up to the moms and dads that care to step in.
I totally agree with JB. It is not appropriate for the mother of a 12 year old to confront a child in that manner. The mother should’ve talked to the coach and let him handle it, or better yet, let the 12 year old handle it. The mother had no business talking to that child that way. She is an adult, and that child- mean or not- is just a child.
I would have to respectfully disagree with you. As a parent and especially educator I believe it’s your duty to make sure and stop meanness anytime you see it occurring. Especially by approaching the child who is being mean. If not how does that child ever learn his actions are not acceptable. And then of course you talk to your kid as well after. I believe she handled it wonderfully well. And I’m glad my daughters teachers would stop any meanness they saw in it’s tracks.
Kari….i strongly disagree with u not approaching a child or parent….n letting them work it out on their own!!….my opinion…but u have been totally brushing the situations off when u should be taking a stand against bullying n showing children that being mean or abusive will NOT be tolerated….u should enforce that being a 20yr vet in the education system. But i would like to know what u would do in a situation that happened to me recently….your looking out your kitchen window at kids playing football n glance over to see ur 10 yr old son throwing punches back n fourth with another boy that has been picking on him for a while n this boys brother is also trying to swing on ur son…ur proud of ur son for actually sticking up for himself n fighting back against the bullying n u watch for a bit until u see ur younger n much smaller 6yr old son trying to take up n help his brother that is fighting off two bullies and ur younger son approaches one of the boys with his fist balled up n telling the boy to leave his brother alone n without a thought this much larger boy knocks the crap out of ur baby n he goes flying across the yard n lands on his butt n his back on the dirt….mind u …u r still watching all this from the window hoping they will work it out n gain some self esteem…..but now Momma Bear….what the heck would u do?…would u really just go out there n tell ur sons that its not ok to be mean n brush them off n send them back out to the lions to play n not say anything at all to the boy that could have severely hurt ur son????…..im just curious how a 20yr vet would have dealt with that….cuz i will tell u this much im not Jesus n the momma bear came out in me….yes i should have thought before i reacted n sorry to say that i didnt but i got in that boys face n told him if he ever put his hands on my son like that again that i dont know that he shouldnt find a very deep hole to crawl in n hide n his momma might need to do the same since obviously the parents teach their kids that its ok to talk back, yell, n cuss other adults….but needless to say me n the other momma had a lot of choice words n had to walk away before we both got put in jail….didnt end on good terms…..loving n protective momma bear….Tiffani
Of course run out and stop it
My son is currently dealing with a Mean Kid on the bus. The bus driver doesn’t intervene and my child is feeling alone and discouraged. He came off the bus close to tears the other night because the Mean kid was mocking him and calling him a snitch. (My son told a grown-up that another child on the bus was being bullied by this little tyke monster and the bully found out, now his rage is directed at my child). My husband walked down to the child’s house to talk to the mom and she said my child should have stayed out of her child’s business. Turns out the Mean kid has a mean mom. Surprise, surprise!
Of course, he does. 🙁 That’s okay…I’m still so proud of your son for doing the right thing. I’m sure the kid who was being bullied is so grateful, too. And, I bet when Mean Kid grows up, he’ll be thankful your son, too. Well, done, Mom…you are raising a great kid.
If we don’t do something to correct the children who have little to no respect, it’ll adversely affect everyone’s future. It’s now 4 yrs since your post, and we’ve had deaths of children inside our schools. Teachers can’t teach. Morality and character is more important traits than anything. Sometimes telling an adult makes the situation worse, but if the other students stand up for the one being bullied, it changes the bully and protects the innocent.
I do t think it’s a cardinal rule not to scold other kids (though generally it should be avoided).
When I was about 9 I did something “bad” (but not that bad) while at a friends house. Her mom found me and scolded me. I knew I was wrong and I was impressed that she dealt with me directly instead of going to mom. (I don’t think she ever told me mom). It me feel more responsible for my actions.
There is a bully at the playground where my husband takes the kids. No one speaks to him. Not his mom (who is nice, but not very authoritative), not the other parents (even though they all recognize his bullying) and not the kids (who are young and probably been told to “be nice”). Mostly we stay out of it, but one time my husband couldn’t take it and was stern with him. He seemed to change his behavior immediately and change his behavior when my husband is near.
You never know – maybe no one is telling them what’s not okay and they need to hear it from someone .
Heck yes I’m going to speak to the meanie! It doesn’t matter what age the person doing wrong is, speaking the truth in love is ALWAYS the right thing to do.
Disagree. That s why there is so much bulling in schools is because teachers turn a blind eye on it. I was a child in school in the 60 s and 70 s. I saw kids bullied and some kids can t or won t fight back. Thank God adults do step in.
I disagree with KARA. The do nothing approach is why parents are forced to take their children out of school. School faculty and educators aren’t speaking up. Too many people are afraid to speak up but I am not. I applaud you any other person that defends the defenseless.
IMO adults should correct children when they hear or see bad behavior. When they don’t witness it first-hand they need to consider the severity of the offense…Was it a group of kids ganging up on one kid? Is it ongoing abuse? Is it violent? If so, intervention after the fact is called for. When it’s a milder offense, like this one, you either talk to your kid about what they could do differently next time or the kids should be encouraged to fix it themselves. Seems like you could have just told both boys that they are supposed to be on the same team and need to work things out or others would get involved. Expect things would have worked out the same — except that your son would have gotten the apology…and he’s the one who deserved it.
Totally agree! Great first step advice! We had a couple kids from the same family bully one of mine. We prayed, hoped, silently forgave and I counseled my child for FIVE YEARS!! Then I FINALLY approached the mother with a very kind explanation of what my child had been going thru, including MANY incidences I had witnessed myself, and asked her if we could try to work on this together. She spoke to her sons, then came back to me saying her son denied it all, that he’d never lied to her before, and that she believed her children did none of it. Boy did we have more tears privately at home. I tried one more time with the mother and she said my kid was too sensitive. So we just quietly left the group (it was a small homeschooling group and made up most of our social life). I and my children learn so many painful lessons from this, including the fact that homeschooling social life is not any better than anywhere else (!!), that I waited WAY too long to intervene with kids that were not my own, that some parents will be in total denial no matter how kind, compassionate and understanding the “victim” family is, and that some people care more about appearances than solving real problems. Ouch, ouch, ouch. We also learned we could step out, put our social lives totally in God’s hands, as God’s to choose our friends, and be alone for awhile until new, and REAL friends came along. I am still somewhat cautious and gunshy from it all, but my kids have totally bounced back and have made great friends in several other circles. So proud of them! AND when something seems to be going downhill with their friends, they stand up and say “that’s not Godly” or “what you are saying and doing makes me uncomfortable,” etc. and it has helped in a few situations! And if I witness something sooner, I impart wisdom and intervention sooner, rather than letting the problem become cancerous. Then it’s up to THEM whether they wish to stick around and deal with the problem or run away in denial. Either way, the old advice to speak up respectfully now before problems get worse is tried, true, and the best way to go in my book!!!
sorry, typo…that is “ask God to choose our friends”
Kara, by not saying anything to a bully is only making the problem worse. It takes a village- as an educator, you should know that. The author did exactly the right thing.
I’ve actually considered removing my 16 yr old son, not just because of mean kids but teachers too!
When my son which is now grown was in the 2nd grade he had another boy twice his size punching him and calling him names all the time. when he told the teacher they punished my son for tattle telling. After my son came home with bruised arms and a bruise on his cheek I asked what happened to him. He finally told me about what had been going on for months. I went to the school and their response is they don’t have time to keep kids from fighting each other and they haven’t seen these things themselves. I told them that my son didn’t do this to himself and that it is their job to protect him when he is at school and that the next time my son tells on this kid and he is punished instead of the bully; I would come down to the school at every recess and watch. When I see the boy hitting my son, I am going to take the kid to the wood shed even if it means my going to jail! my son had no more problems after that!
Just read some of the replies and most thought that it’s fine for a parent to approach a child. Does anyone realise that there are parents out there who actually do more harm than good when they approach the “Mean Kid?” They are emotionally charged and just might be seeing the situation out of context as well. Maybe, maybe not. Once I was at a ball game where my middle school daughter was performing on a dance team. There was a “Mean Girl” in the stands who seemed to be loudly mocking the performance. I was incensed and almost approached this young lady, which would’ve mortified my daughter, btw. I later found out that there was a lot more of a back story than my own limited perception gave me and I would’ve been completely in the wrong and would’ve done more harm than good if I’d approached her, especially since my mama-bear hormones were leading the charge. And then I’ve been left to pick up the pieces when a parent, who was fueled by said mama bear hormones, approached my daughter and blistered her in a situation in which she only saw the surface of. After the whole situation came to light, there was a logical explanation and, thankfully, she apologized for overreacting but my child was still in tears and reeling from her outburst. So I guess I’m just saying, be very careful to make sure you are not letting anger/indignation rule and that you are clear about all the circumstances that are in play. Yes, the overall point of teaching our kids to treat others as Christ would is vital, but please remember, as parents, if we approach kids, which I’m very hesitant to do unless I’ve given it a lot of prayer, then make sure you’re following the WWJD advice as well.
My granddaughter is being bullied in school by a mean boy she is 12 he says stuff to her like you know you have aids and one-day you will die from it or you sleeping with every guy in your class ..
Sandy, to be honest, I have never read your blog until today.
I can not express how dead on you are and pin pointed how this Jesus loving Mom feels.
My son is 12 and is smart and talented, not athletic at all. He gets picked on constantly and we have often fought the battle of dealing with the mean kid. I have also confronted a mean kid on his behalf. This kid needed to know that I was watching, listening and PRESENT. I wasn’t going anywhere. I just introduced myself and said it’s nice to meet you. That was all. It was enough for that particular mean kid. I often find myself having the same talk you had with your son. Reminding him, perhaps, the mean kid NEEDS JESUS. Always, be a representative of the King you serve.
Thank you for your heart and post! < Brigitte
I think your approach of simply introducing yourself to the kid is BRILLIANT. Much better than my knee-jerk reaction of “I’m gonna tell your parents.” I will most definitely be implementing that tactic next time.
Thank you so much for this! My daughter is picked on and has been for years by the same kids. This year she is FRIENDS with a couple of them. I told her that is fine, give them the benefit of the doubt but by no means do I want her to be friends with them and stand by while they are mean to other kids. That was a few weeks back. She is no longer friends with this girl because she and her little crew (in 4th grade) decided to pick on another kid. My daughter stood up for her and now they have turned on her once again but it’s ok because my child knows how to handle it. I am going to read her this when she gets home. THANK YOU again and I have never read your blog until today but I will from now on! 🙂
Teirsa I don’t even know your daughter and still I am proud of her! She may have just changed the “picked on little girl’s” life whether she realizes it or not!!! Good job Mom!
Nowhere in the bible does it say that jesus was perfect. That he never made mistakes in fact there is a whole chunk of jesus life that was not written about or should I say I clouded because the church didn’t want it in like other books. Blaming Satan for every bad person and thing that happens in your child’s life is not a solution. This article started great and took a cap turn.
Hebrews 4: 14-16
“14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
I did not blame Satan for every bad person. I blamed Satan for the lie that says, “The whole world hates me.” That is a lie. And the Bible calls Satan the Father of Lies. So, yes, I blame, Satan for the lies.
Amen! He obviously didn’t comprehend what he read. I was going to explain it to him but I doubt he would comprehend that either. Plus, you don’t need me when you handled it perfectly 🙂
LOL.. That is awesome. People really need to read the book before they try to make presumptive comments about it. Way to go Sandy. Scripture does not lie.
So totally agree. Satan is the great Liar!
I have a daughter who has been tormented all through highschool and some of the lower grads. We have gone to school with it with out a lot of help from staff . She comes home crying a lot she don’t want to go to school she pickes her self until she bleeds. She has scars from it. This year she will graduate frome high school and she is so happy about that. she has a high level of autisim she is very smart a great speller, reader,loves to sing a great voice with or with out music. She has problems with her peers great with younger kids . She got all A,s one her report card this quarter,and she is main streamed in regular class rooms except math she needs help in just to stay on task.
KJV: Matthew 5:48–Be ye therefore perfect , even as your father in Heaven is perfect.
Did you read the entire article or stop at that point? If you had continued to read, she just stated that that is the voice in his head and not to listen to it. She didn’t give it to him to use as an excuse, in fact she went on to give him more tools to use for mean kids. I thought this article was dead on. I’d like to take it to school and have all the kids there read it and write a reflection on this behavior. Well written and done!
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
He was not born perfect; he grew into His divine perfection. But when He began His ministry, He was a perfect Man.
April, Which translation is this? I have searched over 10-15 and yet have it say what you wrote above. Here are some examples of Luke 2:50-
NIV: 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
The Message: 49-50 He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” But they had no idea what he was talking about.
51-52 So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.
NKJV: 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
Jesus Advances in Wisdom and Favor
51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
JC, I think you are asking where April got the second half of her comment and I think that was her comment after the verse. I may be wrong, but that’s how I read it.
Jared I agree. When will people stop blaming satan and start taking responsibility for themselves? The kid needs to know that it’s insecurity and not some “bad guy” entity. If the child can realize that he/she needs to change the way they think and have confidence in themselves then a whole new world will open up to them. It’s nice that the author takes up for their son but she wont always be around to fight his battles. We are rising children who will try to find someone/something to blame instead of tackling the problem head on. Just my 2 cents.
Well, I want to know when will people stop taking words in this post out of context and actually read the entire thing before thinking that I blamed Satan for the behavior of anyone???? 🙂 🙂 🙂
Just kidding. I had to talk to you in the same tone as you talked to me to show you how immature that sounds.
Anyway, Please read the post again. I was talking about the lie my son believed that said, “Sometimes I feel like the whole world hates me.” That’s a big fat Mc-Liety-Lie! The whole world does NOT hate him just because kids pick on him or make fun of him or exclude him or whatever. When our kids take these incidents and then translate them into giant image-making “truths” (which is actually a lie) about themselves, then we need to go to the source of that lie. The Bible calls Satan the Father of Lies. When he lies, Jesus said, he is speaking his native language. So, the originator of that lie–of all lies–is Satan.
And, did you see that this was one of several things that I said to my son? I’m pretty confident I DID tackle the problem head-on and from multiple angles. The only problem I was addressing with bringing Satan into it was the lie that was damaging his self confidence and framing his identity and self-worth.
You’re right. When someones starts thinking like that, he DOES need to change. Only I believe the change occurs on a spiritual level, with spiritual weapons. How can he even fight the thought if he does’t understand the originator of the thought?
Now, if you don’t believe the Bible is truth, then nothing anyone says here will convince you. That’s cool. Just say that, instead of taking words out of context.
This particular blog entry wasn’t even about fighting our kids’ battles, but instead instilling them with the tools to be able to do it themselves! What I took from it was WE are all worthy of the love of our King, and it is important that our kids know that. Satan doesn’t make the mean kid mean, he is only following temptation to be so for whatever reason…wants to be “cool” like the other cool kids who have high power over others, feels insecure, doesn’t get love at home…those are weaknesses that Satan uses to creep in with temptation and a lot of us give in. I think the ignorance of some of these posts is absurd and annoying! WHY DID YOU READ THIS BLOG IF YOU AREN’T INTERESTED?!?!? I truly think this story was an amazing read for parents! I will definitely pass it along to my sisters who are also raising young kids. Thank you 🙂
“Bad guy entity” Elvia? You do realize this is a SERIOUS problem with kids, right? Maybe, just maybe if more parents were involved with their kids on a daily basis to teach them & model for them HOW to love one another, respect each other, care for people, and take pride in being a parent, this sort of thing wouldn’t reach the levels it has. For example, some kids have killed themselves because they believed the things mean kids said, and felt like no one cares! And we aren’t “raising children who will try and find someone/something to blame instead of tackling the problem head on”, that’s just the nature of kids. It’s our job as parents to teach our kids how to take responsibility for our actions, how to deal with problems in a positive way, and how to treat others. Like I said before, the parent is the model, and it’s up to the parent WHAT you model for your children. Do you want to model good behavior patterns or bad behavior patterns? The choice is yours. But just remember this, what you teach today is what you have to deal with tomorrow.
It’s not about blaming Satan, its about choosing Satan to lead your life.
IF Jesus did sin then that means he died for partially sins sins and not just solely ours. I don’t believe that. He was Snow White, flawless, virgin, perfect and that’s why it hurts my heart so much that God gave up a perfect son for all my badness. Thank you Lord for accepting me when I don’t deserve it!
Heb 5:9; I Pet 2:21-22; Heb 4:15 jesus was perfect.
The Bible is complete. The devil is real.
Hebrews 4:15-We do not have a high priest that is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet with out sin. He was perfect!!!!
Actually it says he is without sin. He was tempted constantly and never gave in.
The Mean kids would be gone! think about it. if everyone raised their children to know the love and light of christ and how to emulate them in the most simple ways, how that would change the world….
I don’t think there is a thing wrong with having to write that 100 times. Might be the one thing he remembers from now on. She should NOT have bullied him to the other students, but there was nothing wrong with the task he was given.
A very simple exercise to use in illustrating the hurts caused by bullying is this: Have each kid take out a clean new piece of paper. This paper represents a person. Then have them fold it over and crease it a few times. Each crease represents a hurtful comment directed at that person. Then have them scrunch it up into a tight ball. This represents continued bullying. Then ask them to open it back up and smooth it out. No matter how hard they try, they cannot take all the “scars” away caused by the bullying! Takes 5 minutes and a “visual” lesson may remain in their memories longer than just talking to them.
I like visuals. Great idea!
Make that piece of paper a heart shape. After using this illustration at school, one child came in looking sad and told her teacher, “My heart got wrinkled this recess.”
another form of this:
hold in your own hand a crisp, new $20 bill (or a 50, or 100, whatever) and do the same talk. crease it, fold it, wad it up, step on it, rub it in dirt etc. Explain that each one of those marks is made when someone is mean. Then, pick it up and ask if anyone wants the money. Of course, everyone you are addressing will want the money. Then tell them that no amount of bullying changes what they are worth to God (or to you, for that matter!) and they keep their value no matter how “damaged” the world thinks they are.
I have enjoyed reading all of the comments. If something worked for a certain situation, how can it be wrong to use? Every situation is different. Every one simply gave an example and what the outcome was. Just read and use the ones that fit your situation or your personality. Every way of taking care of a bully is good if the problem is solved. The 1st child was told to return to the site and say, “I’m sorry”. That was a win-win for all. If the parent gets upset, you can either walk away or say, “I’m sorry if my behavior bothers you. I didn’t know where you were and felt the situation called for immediate action”. When in a crowd, there is sure to be a witness. Some adults don’t know what to do or say. If you keep your ‘cool’, most things settle down.
God didn’t create the world in one day. When I moved from teaching 1st grade to 3rd, it involved moving to a different part of town. It took me 1 1/2 years until the children truly believed I would listen to both sides before making a decision on discipline. Most of the time, I asked them what was right or wrong in their behavior and would they like to be treated in that way. The outcome was usually made by them. The biggest problem I had was getting other teachers to take the time to listen to the children. Knowing what to do and say depends on the actions of the 2 involved. Sometimes, I had to bite my tongue and wait until they stopped explaining.
Being an adult isn’t an easy job. Being a kid is even tougher! The thing that works for me is trying to be a good model. Be honest. Let them talk. More than likely, it comes from home and how the bully has been brought up. Some parents were not given any guidance. Some kids are simply “green with envy” because they don’t get the love your child receives. They want attention, but don’t know how to get it.
Be patient. Give your love to others. Be a good example. Share your family to those who need something positive in their life. If we join together, the world can be a better place to live in. You’ll never know what wonders you or your child can help create until you try.
Thank you for this post. It is difficult for adults to know what to do with a bully or “mean kid” so imagine the difficulty a child has.
I love your points and appreciate the article. I will be using these pointers…
You might also try telling the mean kid “hey good insult”. It might stop him in his tracks.
I really hate to be a wet blanket here but as a Christian woman who raised two very intelligent, sensitive, unselfish, loyal children while my husband served in the US Navy, I did my best to coach my children through taunting during little league games and being teased just for the sake of being mean and annoying all the while praying for strength and the right words feeling the pressure of what it is like to parent children alone while my husband was out to sea for six months at a time. When our son was in the 7th grade a boy in his class, a “popular kid” (he was raised in the area and played Pop Warner football), jumped our son from behind, flipped him onto his back, sat on him and beat his face while our son was wearing his glasses resulting in broken glasses, open sores on his ears, in his mouth and on his face inflicting a huge headache. The principal called and said that after interviewing the aggressor he told me that the reason why my son was jumped from behind and beaten was because “anybody that looks like that deserves what he gets.” (tall and wearing glasses). I did not run to his aide. I thought that if Mom showed up in a middle school that he would never hear the end of it. I asked the principal if his band teacher, a man, would mind spending time with our son after the principal assured me that he thought that our son was ok. I paced the sidewalk until he got off of the bus a few hours later and after talking to him for a few minutes I decided that he needed to be checked for a concussion. The next day, after visiting with our neighbor whose father was the local magistrate, I reported the incident to her father’s office. The aggressor was sentenced to community service, he had to write a letter of apology and to pay for our medical expenses. The middle schoolers heard about what happened and most of them started pushing our son around in the hall shoving him into lockers and ridiculing him for the rest of that school year. Our son went from an A student to an F student. We were in hell and no matter what we did we could not pull him out of the depression and anger that sat deep into his heart. Our son did not tell us how bad it got for him for fear that we would do something that would have made going to school even worse on him.
All of this happened about 10 years ago. I am sharing this because I want younger mothers to be wiser than I was. I also want you to know that our daughter grew up to be a teacher and you should know that “mean” kids might be high on pot or alcohol from home or perhaps they are abused by their parents or perhaps their father was a jock who is proud to have raised a son who beats up the smart kid who is tall and wearing glasses. You never know what home life other children have and in what frame of mind they arrive to school in.
Did your son finally recover emotionally? I am sorry for your suffering.
I just want to through another teachable moment out there. The world is full of mean kids, yes. The world is also full of kids who have social and emotional disabilities. They have overly sensitive fight or fight reflexes and often don’t consider the consequences of their words. This mean that is your kid upset my kid, not on purpose, my very sensitive and reaction driven child is likely to pummel your child with hurtful words. He may even start to push or slap. This is a natural reaction of him and we are working on it. Have been for years and oddly enough *this* is him getting better at handling that sort of social encounter. Does it make my kids reaction ‘okay’ or ‘right’? No, of course not. However some understanding that he can’t help his reactions and he is still learning would be great.
There are also kids with social disorders who are brutally honest. Honest to a fault. They don’t understand ‘white lies’ or social diplomacy. Their words can be hurtful but they are still learning.
Another complication with social disorders is obsessions. My kid will talk and talk and talk about one subject and doesn’t read the cues that the other person is bored. We are still teaching him those. I will be the first tell you that this can be a frustrating trait. It also causes tension between him and other children. He comes off as a know it all at times. Correcting others and arguing his points without thought of whether or not the other person want to hear it.
These social/emotional delays will be carried through out life. We can help them adapt and learn but it takes time. A LOT of time. Some understanding would be fantastic. My point is, not every bully is a bully. Do not go to the child. Go to the child’s parent or teacher. Why? Because if you are yelling at and correcting this child on a skill they have not yet mastered, you are now the bully. You just cut this child to the core and the parents are left to pick up the pieces. The parents need to handle the corrections. So, you have your teaching moment with your kid and let me have my teaching moment with mine. You have no idea what is going on with that child who just seems like a ‘jerk’.
That is all I ask. Always let the school/parents handle the ‘jerky’ kid. You just don’t know.
Thank you for your response. I resonate with everything you said, because it sounds like my son is a lot like your child. We deal with all the things you mention here. As a result of my son’s often inappropriate reactions and lack of attention to social cues, it makes him a target for teasing, ridicule and meanness. I’m usually the one pulling my son aside and instructing him on all the ways he could have responded or behaved so as to avoid the harsh reaction in the future. I often lead him through apologies to other children and adults. It’s a long, laborious process.
In the scenario I described in this post, I had observed the dynamics over weeks of basketball practice and games. Because I normally have to correct MY child, I was closely watching to monitor his behavior and help him blend in the team as much as possible. The “Mean Kid” in this situation was the leader/popular kid on the team. There were other kids on the team that followed his lead, no matter what he did. While I cannot be 100% sure, I’m fairly confident he does not suffer from social disabilities.
Anyway, it was time for me to step in and say something. And it ended up being the exact right thing, all around. It was awkward and not well thought out, for sure. I probably wouldn’t handle it the same way int he future. But in this case, it did end up helping the Mean Kid see his actions were hurtful and that other parents were watching.
Plus, in the end, he was very kind to my son.
And you are 100% correct…every bully is not actually a bully. Amen.
Thank you for writing this. It reminds me that we are not alone in trying to help our children deal with mean kids.
My son is 13 and in 8th grade. He went through a tough time last spring in his small Catholic school, due to incorrect medicine for ADHD and Generalized Anxiety. We stopped and changed the medicines as soon as we saw him having trouble. In the meantime, however, he acted out inappropriately a few times. The school tried to handle it, but didn’t do a great job, and most of the kids in the grade knew what had happened. We hoped, however, that my son’s longtime friends would stick by him and try to understand. (Catholic school kids, nice Christian families…) Instead, we found a bunch of text messages from a couple of these boys saying mean things to my son. His contact with these kids was mainly limited to school from that point on, although they did contact him a few times over the summer and he spent time with them on those occasions. He started school at a different school this fall for 8th grade, and had not seen these kids. So on Friday, he was invited over to one of the kids’ houses before a community event. My husband dropped him off, and immediately these boys started in on my son. They said things about his height, added horrible bathroom “stuff”, and then went outside and locked him out of their house. Thankfully, my husband left his cell phone with our son, and he called and my husband went to get him. This is 5 months after the trouble at school last spring, and they have seen him in between, with no problems. I was in tears the entire night (while at a school event with my younger daughter!). I sent a message to one of the mothers, who responded that she wasn’t sure that had happened. Another mother called me and told me that she was going to get to the bottom of it and that her son would be apologizing ( that mother is the principal of the Catholic school).
I’m so happy to have found this blog post, because it has helped me know how to talk about this with my son. He’s trying to move past what happened, and will no longer see those kids again (although I guess he may wind up in high school with them). I, on the other hand, am still so upset by what happened. I wasn’t there to say anything to these kids. My son is a quiet, kind, and very sensitive child, who has never hurt anyone and does not criticize others. I feel like my heart has been torn up.
You did the right thing to contact the other moms. Most parents want to know when their kids treat other kids badly. And these kids need to be held accountable for their poor choices. My heart aches with you over this behavior. My son is also in 8th grade this year and also has ADHD. It sounds a lot like things that happen to him. It hurts. I’ll pray for you and him today. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. 🙂
as a mom i read this my son is 12 and daughter 11. i cried and laughed because same thing ive done and would do. it help a lot too to hear that not alone dealing with the same issues and gave helpful things to add to do..thank you
Hi Sandy I totally agree with what you did I too would have no hesitation going up to a child and letting them know that their behavior is inappropriate I have done it myself..
My 14 year old daughter has lots of problems with bullies at school boys and girls and i cried when i read this, I have over the last two years cried over her, been furious to to point i have had to go to the police and the education board, its not funny when other children think its ok to make another c hild life a misery, I have always told my daughter to be nice to everyone and she is but she herself told me the other day being nice doesnt work , so I am in a dilemma I told told her today be firm but nice , dont take any crap off anyone , I wonder why some children are so cruel it not fair I try to teach both of my children always be others friends help others out when they need help and never be horrible to anyone because we should treat others how we would like to be treated who knows maybe i am giving the wrong advice because my daughter gets picked on continually, I have now got her involved with planetshakers church and she is a different child with a lot of confidence so hoping this will stop eventually
Totally agree!!! If all the good kids stood up to the one bully all power would be lost! Loved this article!
This is an amazing post! Great advice for any parent to give to any child! Bravo! It’s not always that easy but it’s ALWAYS the best way to start! Jesus is always the answer. My 2 daughters are now mom’s themselves but I remember when they were youngsters and any problems arose re another person be it a bulling situation or another that they weren’t sure about, WWJD was always used to solve the problem! Time to break it out again!
You said exactly what was in my heart ❤️Thank You Borh❣
This is exactly what more parents need to see.. it breaks my heart to see kids being nasty to other kids for no reason. My problem is that if I go and stand up for my kid he might get embarrassed… and say mom you’re embarrassing me … This is heavy on my heart I need to know how to deal with this. My son is 9 is is so kind and loving he doesn’t even know when kids are being mean. He still calls them friends and it just breaks my heart
I have one of the sweetest most loving sensitive 6 year olds around but for some reason he is viewed as odd by his peers and their meanness affects him tremendously and it is heartbreaking to me. He is such a great kid and so kind and giving I am truly at a loss but your article has helped me remember that the devil is a liar and my son is exceptional and I will continue to teach love and compassion to him.
Wow, thank you so much for such a positive and helpful article. I am in tears. Your a great Mom!
Thank you, this is just what I needed to read. My son just confided in me that he is being mocked by a mean kid. I’m like you and want to go to that mean kid and confront him. My son though begged me not to say anything. I want him to continue to trust me and be able to come to me with these issues. Not sure what to do.
I wished it wasn’t 4 years later, I would really love to know how the move with your daughter worked out.
My daughter is 13, gorgeous, bright, talented in the arts and rejected by all of her peers and it’s defeating her. She has two therapists, a doctor for antidepressants and, still, the rejection.
I cannot wrap my head around it. Not one child will wrap their arms around her. Not one child will be her hero.
I’ve often questioned, I would say Alexa, come on, not everyone hates you, but she will have a “friend” and this so called friend is not quite what she (we) were hoping for.
Today she text me from the bathroom, balling her eyes out because the table that she finally landed a seat in a couple of weeks ago literally ousted her. I was unaware that this had been happening all week. On Monday a boy said to her, “You are sitting in my seat” (mind you, she had been in that seat for a few weeks) she spoke up and said, “No, I’ve been sitting here for weeks.” He said, “Why are you at this table anyway? You don’t have any friends here.” The so called friend said nothing. Then another boy spilled his drink right on her brand new outfit. While she was up getting napkins to clean up this “accidental” spill, the boy snagged the seat.
Today, she tried to sit at that table once again, and a girl literally swooped herself under my daughter and sat down on the seat. For the LOVE OF GOD, I wish this would stop!
These bullies are from the more affluent part of our township. Two middle schools were combined at the beginning of the school year. They came into her school and now she has nowhere to sit and have lunch.
I’ve spoke to the school about this several times, but it seems that it goes in spurts… a few weeks she has a seat, and the next thing you know she is on the outs with the new friend.
Great mom advice! And I’m with you on wanting to have the non-Jesus reaction. Good for you for speaking up! And even better for you to lead by a great example and have such an honest, uplifting talk with your son. Filing this one away:)
Thanks, Mindy. We’ll see what happens tonight when we encounter Mean Kid at the basketball game.
You guys just don’t get it. The more you intervene, the more your kids are going to get picked on. Making that poor kid on the basketball court ashamed for trying to be funny just makes him hate your kid. His words and your son’s feelings are two very different things. DON’T intervene!! It teaches your son that he doesn’t have to solve his problems – momma’s gonna fix it all for him. And what about the “mean kid”? Do you realize that he’s probably insecure, embarrassed, and just trying to fit in? That he probably gets yelled at at home? You are a grown woman, attacking a poor kid for making insensitive jokes, and you expect that you are a picture of Jesus? What if HE was your son? How would you feel if some random adult started in on your son? Don’t you think that’s a little worse than another kid on the court making obnoxious comments? You’re right. You don’t make a good Christian. LOVE that other child, just as much as you love your child. Then you will be a picture of Jesus.
I do agree that sometimes stepping in can make the situation worse but if your child has made a serious effort to get the problem to stop with no results then adults need to step in before someone becomes extremely abused.
Lydia if child was being a bully I would have no problem having a parent call them out. Every situation and child/parent/bully is different and I believe she did the right thing in this case. Also sticking up for someone being bullied is never the wrong thing to do. She didn’t “attack the poor kid” and personally I think that child needed to hear that it was wrong/not nice. Kids that are not taught the difference between right and wrong need to hear it and her son also needed to see someone speak up for what is right, whether it was his mother or not. My daughter looks up to me and trust I have her best at heart. She would have wanted me to do the same thing, knowing someone cares and the world doesn’t hate her. There are tons of mean people out there, having each others back isn’t a bad thing.
I do not agree with you in some areas, Lydia. There is nothing wrong with defending your child. Even Jesus defended children when he told his disciples to let them come to him. The disciples were seeing the children as a bother to Christ’s ministry instead of a part of it. She did not make fun of the child either, she just told him that she would tell those in authority about his behavior, which was not acceptable. We, as parents, are to teach our children to defend themselves and other, but we are also put in a place of responsibility to help them against those that would hurt them. However, you are right that we do need to show love as well, but love does not permit people to treat others in old way they please, that is a false view and goes against Scripture. Sometimes love is confronting a wrong behavior and saying “I see what you’re doing! It’s not right. If you don’t make a change, there will be consequences.” If this mother had belittled the child with angry names and screamed and ranted, then she would not have been acting like a Christian. What she did was responsible. Leaving a child to be bullied by another when it was done in her presence with a “Hey, kid, handle your own problems!” is completely irresponsible.
Just want to comment that Sandy didn’t attack the child. She simply reminded him that people are watching, that his behavior is unacceptable, and that higher authorities will be involved if he continues. She actually modeled very good problem solving for her son. Why does helping her son mean she’s handicapping him and making him co-dependent? Wasn’t she SHOWING him how to calmly deal with a difficult and immediate situation? Even though she felt mama bear and anger, she showed her son it is possible to behave in a controlled and constructive manner in the heat of the moment, b/c sometimes we don’t have 10 minutes or an hour to calm down first and get a cool head. In this case, she had to deal with it in the moment, the go cool down after. AND she had to have courage to do it in front of a crowd of other adults and children. In this case, both she AND the dad intervened. When we teach our kids to share (and show them with our own behavior), when we insist they use good language, when we model for them how to shop at the grocery store, balance our budget, clean the house, etc. are we making them co-dependent? Of course not, we are showing them how to problem solve, how to care, how to be good people. As he gets older he will be stepping out into his own life and will have good, clear, helpful memories of how to deal with bullying and be able to use those. Plus, every time we help our kids in an age appropriate way, we are loving them, showing them they are worthy of love, and reminding them to be loving to others. I don’t expect my 5 year old to be great at sharing, tho I often encourage her to do so. I do expect my 15 year old to be pretty good at sharing, and am more surprised if/when he doesn’t. Do I take things out of his hand and help share for him like I do my 5 year old? No. Do I verbally encourage and sometimes insist that my teen share if he’s having trouble? Yes. Do I let him go through the thought process and make a decision? Yes. If it is an ultimately selfish decision, I point it out and help him see if he’d like to be treated that way. He always ends up sharing So I have to walk with him a little of the way, sometimes. Jesus walks with us adults, right? We as adults need help too, so why is it arguable that we abandon our kids. WE don’t want to be abandoned by Christ when we struggle….Anyway, just trying to illustrate some of the differences of implementation, and that the teachings and support (in appropriate ways) are always important, our whole lives. Also, just want to say that Jesus IS perfect, he is God. And from the Bible scripture quote above, you can see he was without flaws. Indeed, we are not always perfectly Christ-like, as we are not Christ himself, we are flawed and fallable human beings. So we need Christ’s help and look Him as our model and our guide. Being angry doesn’t mean we are not good Christians. Being angry just means we OJBECT to something. Being angry is just a feeling – it’s valuable information – that tells us something is WRONG. Then hopefully we engage the brain and do something constructive about it. Sandy was respectful and right on. If she had to take it to the next level, she would have and it would have been her right and her duty to do so for the sake of her child and all those that are severely mistreated in school. No, this child’s tauntings were not THAT bad, but they were persistent thru an entire game in front of a crowd – so the child had nothing standing in his way, knew it, and was unbothered by all around him. He was FREE to be as mean as he wished for as long as he wished in the future. UNTIL someone stepped in. Sandy was right to step in early and put a solution to the problem while it was small. Did she hit the child? No. Did she insult the child? No. She simply corrected him. If adults here on this forum cannot even accept correction being given to a child, how can we expect ANYONE to accept correction? It’s not any different than having one’s grammar corrected in front of the class, or a math problem corrected, etc. We all have to be able to accept correction when we are wrong or out of line. If my kids was being significantly bad (such as making fun of another kid, fighting, etc.) and I wasn’t there, I would definitely want his mistake and his limits pointed out to him by a responsible adult! Case in point, I was teaching a religion class when my middle school aged son S., and one of his friends, M., started making fun of another child in the class, N., calling N. “teacher’s pet,” etc. under their breath. This went on for several minutes, was loud enough to be detectable by me, the teacher, was totally uncharitable toward N. who was excited about the class, answering questions, etc. I had NEVER seen my son act this way, who is normally not a mean spirited child. So about 1/2-way thru the class I pulled both my son S., and his friend M. aside and pointed out how rude and disruptive they were being, told my kid how disappointed I was, and that he was going to straighten this up and consequences were coming. That night we had a long talk about how unkind my son was, and how much time he wasted and distracted the other kids not to mention how his behavior tempts more kids to behave in a delinquent manner. This was 1&1/2 years ago and he has never repeated that behavior again. I know b/c I homeschool! People can attack Jesus all they want, like someone above said, He was perfect and there were many who still didn’t like Him, who spat on Him, who tortured and killed Him! It should come as no surprise that, as we walk in darkness, others will attack us for having morals and standing up for what is right. USE your teachable moments. Don’t waste them! Go moms and dads! And teachers!
I don’t think just telling a kid that you heard the things he said, and will talk to coach or parent about it is really as horrendous as you are making it seem. You may be right that a mom/parent/sibling that interferes too much may become a reason to continue to mock the kid, but she also prepped her kid for future encounters. Not everyone who picks on others is being mistreated at home Either way, the fact that someone cares how their actions affect others is a good message to send to kids. Loving that other child means helping teach right from wrong. It doesn’t mean tear him down loudly and publicly, or call him names, or tease him back. This mom didnt do any of those things. She told him that his actions were inappropriate. Teaching and correcting can be very loving. Hopefully we would all correct our own child if s/he was acting this way too.
I believe that too much is left to the teachers and coaches to handle these days. Sandy was right to tell that mean kid to stop. I would have loved to have a parent defend me when I was young and harassed by others. And sometimes a child can handle it themselves, but when it get so bad that their self worth is deflated, it is OK to step up and introduce yourself or mildly correct the mean kid. Good going Girls.
If an adult told my child off for bad behaviour I would think my child is getting exactly what he deserves. You asked.
Just to clarify…I never “told the child off.” I simply approached him away from the team and told him to be careful how he spoke to my son and the other teammates or I’d talk to the coach and his parents.
Lydia- I agree with the fact that we need to equip our children with the tools to stick up for themselves and let them figure it out. But they also learn by example, monkey see-monkey do. If they see us do nothing, they will learn to do nothing. I can completely relate to the author, I also have a problem with ‘hating’ mean kids and have done my best to only intervene when absolutely necessary. That doesn’t make me a bad Christian or Sandy, it makes us human. No one is perfect. She is being honest about how she feels and trying to help others dealing with the same demons. Who are you to judge anyone?
Yes, definitely appreciate honesty!
Monkey see, monkey do can also be applied to you hating the “mean kids” though, right? Won’t this hate translate to our kids?
I mean we have to be honest we have hate in our hearts but shouldn’t we then pray to ask God to help us love those we don’t want to love?
No one is perfect is right-including this “mean kid.”
I just think we are being very protective mamas and papas and don’t want anything bad to happen to our kids, which is natural.
There is definitely a time and a place to step in and help. I am just concerned with all of the hate that is breeding.
I think we can be honest with our kids about our hate and model repentance and love and grace. It is definitely NOT okay to just take abuse. I’m not saying the loving thing to do is nothing. I’m just saying I think there is a component to our stories we can’t ignore and that is WE ARE ALL THE MEAN KID AT SOME POINT. What do we do with that as we teach our kids. I just think it’s dangerous to get into a mentality of “us good people” vs. “those mean people.”
I pick my battles. My daughter prefers to handle things on her own until the behavior of the mean kid escalates… Like when she was choked on the bus with her owns scarf; when mean girl #2 kicked open the bathroom stall when my daughter was pulling down her pants; when mean girl #3 pored hairspray in my daughters water bottle; or when mean boy spit in my daughter’s face. All these instances violated her personal space, so I intervened.
Renee, You are exactly right. I also think that kids do need to learn how to work through their problems, but only to a certain extent. I think you outlined the time to intervene beautifully. I tried to let my son work through his own issues at school, but things escalated. I attended meetings and tried to solve the problem, but we ended up taking the blame. My son now goes to school online and suffers loneliness. Dealing with bullies is so frustrating and often the authorities really don’t comprehend.
Wow Lydia, I think a small scolding, after her son tried what he could, to a child really isn’t worth all the outrage you’re having. Did you exhibit this bullying behavior because of abuse, Projecting much?
If my son was being a bully and I had no idea, I would appreciate any adult telling him to stop it, even notifying me so I could have a talk with him. Abusive parents can take a step (or six) too far and that is bad, but it doen’t make this woman a bad person IT MAKES THOSE PARENTS BAD.
As for picking on him more cuz his Mom stood up for him? I’d say that shows the kids character, and willingness to hurt. That comes from bad examples or frustration and neglect.
To Lydia: Are you nuts? If my kids were being mean to anyone I would be grateful for a parent to step in and say “hey! Kock it off”! if I were not there to dovit myself. There is a difference of having fun and trying to fit in with bullying. That mean kid needs to learn the difference and that it’s never ok to ignore someone when they say stop!
Lynda, you are obviously raising a mean kid if this caused such a reaction in you.
I’ve wanted to scratch the eyes out of some mean kids, but left it to my son to solve on his own with some behind the scenes guidance. Well, this year (3rd grade) mean kid pulled my son’s pants down in the middle of class. You bet I stepped in at that point! Obviously, mean kid has no respect for my kid’s wishes and wasn’t heeding what my kid was telling him. I made it VERY clear if that mean so much as looks at my kid again I will be pressing every charge I can. Mean kids never getting called on their behavior is why they NEVER stop. Mean kids’ parents being in complete denial that their little angels would do anything wrong is a dereliction of parental duty and exacerbates the problem. The few occasions I’ve been made aware my kids weren’t nice they had a heafty consequence and had to make ammends. I want to know when my kids are stepping out of line, and am completely ok with another parent pointing it out (calmly) to them/me. If another kid is mean to my kid and I sit back and do nothing it teaches them to be a victim and that no one cares about their plight. I was an adult, and married, before I felt like I had someone in my corner. I thank the Lord everyday for sending my sweet husband to me so I could learn what it felt like to have someone on my side. Now I can pass that blessing on to my own 6 kids.
I am sorry your son had to go through such humiliation. And I’m sorry you never felt like you had anyone in your corner until you were married.
I just think it is harsh to accuse someone of having a “mean kid” themselves. I had a similar reaction to the article (my comment is below). Kids are mean for many reasons. They are little sinners. I’m a big sinner. Just think we should be careful not to point fingers and get mean ourselves.
Lydia: Personal attacks toward me are not helpful. We can have a discussion about this, but this is my space and I reserve the right to ask you not to attack me or other commenters. Thank you. 🙂
I am not a parenting expert or an anti-bullying expert. Just want to clarify that from the get-go.
At the risk of sounding defensive, I never attacked anyone. I never raised my voice. I approached him privately, away from the other team mates. I do not find this approach to be “unloving.” Confrontation and love are not opposites. This is how Jesus told us to address sin. (Matt 18:15-18)
I was the first one to admit my “hate” and thoughts toward mean kids was not motherly, Christiany, legal, good, right or like Jesus. I wasn’t trying to paint myself as a model Christian (unless you define model Christian as a sinner fully reliant upon God’s grace–then yes, I am that) as much as tell a story of one incident that happened with my son.
This is not the only conversation I have had with my children about how to treat people. This was one incident. Total time elapse…maybe 15 minutes.
I know my son. You know your kids. Each of us is different. Each situation is different. In 16 years of being a mom, this is the first time I’ve ever confronted a child following an incident like this. Clearly, this is not my M.O.
I was frazzled in the moment and said the first self-controlled, legal thing that could come out of my mouth, considering my visceral inclination to protect my child. In retrospect, I should have had my son with me and gone up and introduced myself to the kid. Shook his hand. Maybe asked him his name and then perhaps asked what happened on the court during practice that made him treat son the way he did. And then let the two of them work it out. Maybe I should have just gone straight to the coach and make him aware. I don’t know.
I just know that my son needed someone to step in that day. I’m glad I did.
That’s not to say it should play out like this every time. The whole point of this post was the fact that I tried to equip him to deal with all bullies in the future.
It’s okay to disagree with me, but at the end of the day we are in this together and want to raise emotionally healthy and spiritually courageous kids, right? So, let’s support each other.
Well done, all around.
Remember, it takes a village to raise a child…mean kid needs to know there are social norms (not just mom and dad) and this interaction may have helped form that.
Frankly, I think you showed terrific restraint :). My first instinct is to run up and smash the mean kid’s face in. But we can’t do that, that’s bad. So we do the best we can. Sometimes it’s letting our kids try and work it out, sometimes it’s getting right in there, and sometimes it’s both. And sometimes, we are human and we let our emotions get ahead of us. The truth is, (and I am not religious but someone sent me this article and I really like it), we are all on this earth as a community. We need to take care of each other. Kids are generally not equipped to handle bullies, and it’s a myth to think so. I can bet that there are millions of kids around the world who are currently wishing hard that a grownup would intervene because they have no idea what to do. It’s our job as adults to protect kids whenever we can, and let them know that they are not alone. And then, we need help them learn when appropriate to help themselves. Letting them flounder teaches no lesson except that they are alone.
I totally get why you did what you did. And you handled it perfectly.
No Lydia you don’t get it. My daughter’s bully started in 5th grade. He was relentless. Believe me I did everything I could to help her cope but her teachers and principals chose to look the other way. I was even told by the principal that since I worked for the school district I could move her to another school. They moved on to middle school where it continued and she was physically attacked by him. She contemplated suicide during all of this. Should I have just stood by and not intervened? If I had chosen that route my daughter probably would have ended her life. This continued into 7th grade where she was being told by him to die and that she shouldn’t even be alive. Thankfully the middle school is working diligently to keep this from happening again. So far it’s been quiet but he goes through cycles. If he follows the pattern once he thinks he’s not being watched as closely he’ll start again. His parents are not supportive. The administration and his mother does know that the next time he does anything the police will be involved and we will press’s charges. That may sound extreme to some but he’s physically attacked her once and as they get older my concern is the next attack could be more severe. So Lydia no standing by and not intervening is not the answer. Yes kids need to learn how to cope with this but they also need a network of people to look out for them and do their best to protect them.
I agree with you 100% and I hate what your daughter is having to go through. My son has been bullied since the 5th grade. I am so infuriated with our school system that will allow this type of abuse to take place! What do you do when the school won’t do anything and you aren’t in a position to home school? The police won’t do anything because he hasn’t been physically assaulted. Technically no crime has been committed. You want your child to get the best education possible, to be able to learn without being scared to death.
in my state there is a law mandating the schools to intervene and yet last week a boy ended his life due to bullying…I do not believe the schools are taking these issues seriously enough…parents need to hold them accountable and push for the lawmakers to get involved.
There are too many of these stories. It absolutely breaks my heart.
If the bully does bother your daughter again, you might consider giving her some one-liner responses. Of course, this is a very personal decision to make, based on the situation, your daughter, the nature of the bullying, etc. If he is telling her she should be dead, etc. perhaps it may just perk up her confidence and change the subject enough for her to rattle off a line like: “Got anything wittier, ’cause I’m bored with the same old tired lines….” “I know, right? God probably went to the trouble to create all these people and nature because he couldn’t wait for it all to die” “Praying for you!” “Talked to God lately?” “Didn’t I see you in church on Sunday?” etc.
There are many good comebacks kids can make without insulting the offending kid. Takes some practice and rehearsing at home, but after awhile, the confidence comes and may help set her free from a lot of the negative feelings she’d have otherwise. Just a friendly suggestion. Of course, sometimes it’s better to totally ignore a bully so they get bored and fade away. Hopefully nothing gets physical again!! Therapy may also be needed, to help her turn her focus totally away from this bothersome and threatening student. Teachers and administrators definitely need to take the proper steps if it doesn’t stop. I hope it gets resolved for you.
I see your point a little, Lydia And I AM a parenting expert PhD and all. It is what I do for a living. But I also see the point foe the author more. Yes, we do need to let/teach our kids to problem solve for themselves. But our kids also need to feel like we are there to help when things get too big for them. And things do get too big for them to handle sometimes.
I think it takes a village and kids need to know that they are accountable and people are watching their behavior. My daughter was being bullied in kindergarten and even got a bloody nose from the girl. I taught her a plethora of strategies to employ. Some worked and some did not. And some were just too hard for her to enact in the moment (she was 5). So, one day I went to have lunch with hr at school. I looked the little bully right in the eye and asked “is everyone being nice to everyone on the playground?” She could not meet my gaze. I said, I sure hope so. Guess what. That did it. We have spent 2 years teaching our sweet, pure-hearted and trusting daughter how to handle bullies but sometimes the bullies are tougher, meaner and more manipulative and our kids will feel abandoned if we don’t then step in. SO it is a balance of not rescuing them constantly. One author say we rescue our kids as though they are drowning in ankle deep water. That is a mistake for sure. But we need to throw them a lifeline when they are in over they’re heads.
I see your point a little, Lydia And I AM a parenting expert PhD and all. It is what I do for a living. But I also see the point foe the author more. Yes, we do need to let/teach our kids to problem solve for themselves. But our kids also need to feel like we are there to help when things get too big for them. And things do get too big for them to handle sometimes.
I think it takes a village and kids need to know that they are accountable and people are watching their behavior. My daughter was being bullied in kindergarten and even got a bloody nose from the girl. I taught her a plethora of strategies to employ. Some worked and some did not. And some were just too hard for her to enact in the moment (she was 5). So, one day I went to have lunch with hr at school. I looked the little bully right in the eye and asked “is everyone being nice to everyone on the playground?” She could not meet my gaze. I said, I sure hope so. Guess what. That did it. We have spent 2 years teaching our sweet, pure-hearted and trusting daughter how to handle bullies but sometimes the bullies are tougher, meaner and more manipulative and our kids will feel abandoned if we don’t then step in. SO it is a balance of not rescuing them constantly. One author says we rescue our kids as though they are drowning in ankle deep water. That is a mistake for sure. But we need to throw them a lifeline when they are in over their heads.
Thank you for your insight here.
Lydia may be being misjudged here from where I’m sitting. Just because she may not agree, does not make her negative–she possesses a different view. If you put yourself out there on a blog, someone is going to disagree. We are all walking a different path, and it may not be on a level playing field. I have worked with and dealt with my own set of problems with a child who has spouted off in high-energy/stressful situations. He has made tremendous strides and has exhibited the best progress and continues to learn to police himself in normal, everyday sports and activities like basketball; but still not without my monitoring and redirecting. Believe me when I say that I don’t want him to hurt anyone in any way. But take into consideration how another parent who is walking this kind of path may feel. The ones who do everything that you do, but with a different result just because it is a different child. Pointing out the problem directly to the other child in front of everyone may have hurt others more than your child was injured. You have no idea where the other child started or how far he may have come in his own journey. You have no idea what his parents or other siblings have been through, but his mom could be more frazzled than you were in those 15 minutes throughout every day if he has one of a thousand other issues. There might be less hate if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, which I am guessing that you do because you are a Christian. One day your child may make some mistakes, so take a minute to think about the approach you might appreciate from another child’s parent.
You make a great point that this child may have serious behavioral issues and his relentless taunting to my son may have been a “good day” and “progress” for him.
Just to clarify, I did not point out the problem in front of anyone else. I approached the child privately.
I know my kids have made and will make many, many (many!) mistakes. We are dealing with a lot of personal things in my family that I have alluded to on my blog but do not write about out of respect for my children–many of which are behavior related. However, even with all that, I can honestly say that if my son had been relentlessly taunting another child on his team for complimenting the other players, and that teammate left with his head hanging low, on the verge of tears saying, “Sometimes I feel like the whole world hates me.” I would hope to God that the mother or father of that poor kid would take the time to approach my child and say something. How else would he know the impact of his actions if no one says anything?
If I had a sh*tty little kid that picked on other kids then yea, I would EXPECT a parent to check my child. Someone’s gotta do it..
I have a daughter that has ADHD, brain damage due to epilepsy, and is autistic. When she was in high school, she had a kid that picked on her and would send her home crying like her heart had been ripped out of her chest. She could not understand why that person did not love her like she loved them. If it were not for a child like Sandy’s son, the abuse would have continued (I did not know about it until after the incidents). This child stood up to my daughters bully and the kid backed down, apologized to my daughter, and gave her a hug. They have been friends ever since. Sometimes kids are mean because they are ignorant. They do not understand things so they decide to take a defensive approach. Educating the child is always the key. Even if your educating them about God.
I know my child isn’t perfect. I know they make mistakes. If someone witnessed my child bullying another, I would want them to step in and talk to them. They need to know it isn’t accepted in society to bully another person. What happens when they get out in the real world. If they bully someone it is going to be known as harassment and depending on how far they go with it, (and if it isn’t taken care of at a young age will get worse, I am sure) they could go to prison. Just saying. It isn’t always bad when another adult talks to a child who is bullying. I do agree though that if there is too much intervention from a parent then it can make matters worse. This is why this mother has sat down and talked with her child about how to deal with it, because she knows that she cant be (and shouldn’t be) there for every single incident in her child life that involves a bully. I love this post and agree with it wholeheartedly. I hope to pass a similar message on to my children so that they can know how to deal with situations like this that will happen in their lives.
great line i heard. Our job as parents is not to toughen up our kids to face a harsh world, but rather to raise kids that will make the world a little less harsh
There is an art to intervening and this could have backfired so many ways and she is lucky it didn’t. I understand the teacher who said not to intervene because we have seen enough overprotective parents who have conditioned their kids to inflate stories and manipulate their parents into using them as a weapon to fight their battles for them. The son needs to learn to fight his own battles, so the mother should have accompanied the son and let him speak for himself how much it hurt him so that a true resolution can be made among the kids. Good thing the other dad provided the backup, but without that, it could have escalated into future covert attacks when the parents are not around. If adults don’t learn proper intervention to help the children resolve conflicts on their own, these lessons will never stick because the weaker ones will always feel dependent on another adult to make things right for them. (And as a side note I spent years in Switzerland where parents did not intervene much, even for two year olds. My sons, who did get bullied at first, learned valuable lessons and learned how to stand up for themselves and love others at the same time)
If this were my son I would be ashamed of his behavior and happy someone handled it
I laughed. I cried. I was inspired.
Thank you. I am bookmarking this for future inspiration. And I’m sending it to a friend who needs it right now for her daughter. In grade 2! What is wrong with the world when second graders are mean girls!?!?
I was picked on in junior high so badly that I asked my parents to send me away to private school. Instead, they pulled me out of French immersion where I had had the same 16 classmates since kindergarten. Grade 9 was amazing. Same school, different classmates. When we moved at the end of that year I was so sad, because I finally had friends. But after I moved I was okay. That one good year gave me the confidence to make new friends and ignore the haters.
I love the message of this post. It’s great to stick up for our kids. But it’s even greater to teach them to stick up for each other. And know that their value is never in what the mean kids say.
Wow, Kelly…that is such a great example of the power of Mean Kids AND the power of Great Kids. I’m so encouraged by the fact that it only took a simple change for you to have a completely different school (life) experience.
And, yes…grade 2 and Mean Girls. I remember when Rebekah was in Kindergarten and some girls said to her “You’re not my friend anymore” she was so confused. She had never heard anyone say they would not be her friend. My heart ached for her because I knew it was only the beginning of Mean Girls. It’s gotten so much worse for her and continues to this day, even in high school–even in a Christian school.
We must teach our kids to navigate this.
I love what Kelly shared. Especially the part about ignoring the haters! People do what they do for attention. What we focus on expands. I do wonder what Sandy is conveying to her child. I heard, that they better not make a mistake or else judgment and harshness will abound. Children need help to understand that misbehavior in others is more about where they are coming from than the person on the receiving end. So, when someone is harsh to us it really is their problem. We do need to help our children not be targets. And, yes give them the courage and strength to be the ones to stand next to those who need a friend. I love that you encourage your son to be the one to stand next to the child being picked on. We need to model this. I appreciate that this behavior in others can really set off a feeling of injustice that we should correct. We just need to be sure we are not sending out a power move ourselves.
You heard that from this post? That’s not what I tried to convey at all! I’m sorry if I was vague or if you misread. This other child was not “making a mistake.” He was bullying my son repeatedly when my son was trying to encourage his team mates. Confronting someone about their misbehavior is neither harsh nor judgmental. It’s loving, Biblical and entirely appropriate.
Isn’t that what I said? “Kids are mean for a reason. Sometimes, it’s because it makes them feel strong. Sometimes, they are going along with the crowd to be accepted. Sometimes, it’s because no one ever told them it was wrong to treat people that way. Sometimes, it’s because someone has been mean to them. But almost NEVER is it because of you. Don’t ever define yourself based on the opinion of the Mean Kid.”
Yes, we have dealt with this too. I haven’t been brave enough to write about it yet because I think it’s just a little too close to home as of yet, do you know what I mean? But, I will too, because I think our kids are powerful creatures who know how to get around a ‘meanie’ and if we aren’t careful they might get damaged and we didn’t even realize it until it was too late. So, way to be proactive.
I completely understand about things being too close to home. The older my children get, the harder it gets to write about them. I get it.
This almost made me tear up. I can’t stand mean kids either, I mean, where do they get off?? I’m sure a lot has to do with their home life and for that i feel sorry for them for that, but still. My daughter is 12 as well and there is SO much peer pressure to be like everyone else. I want her to be herself she wants to blend in. I get it, I do, but I hate that she conforms to keep the light off of herself so that she’s not a target. I’ve always told her it’s just as bad to not say anything even if it means losing friends stand up for that person being picked on.
You gave great advice to Elijah, I’ll have to remember that!
It is so difficult for our girls, isn’t it? It’s like this delicate dance between “be yourself” and “but not too weird.” I haven’t even touched the subject of mean GIRLS. In my experience, that has been a different (and more ferocious) animal, entirely.
I just wanna throw my arms around you and hug you!!! This is fabulous! While I haven’t so much had to deal with this yet (my boys are little still), the thought has crossed my mind. I hate mean kids too. I’ve often thought that I’d probably beat my kids half to death (no, not really 😉 ) if I ever found them being mean to someone else. But this is a great resource I will be saving to help my kids…and me…deal with the mean people in life. God bless you!
Well, I would LOVE for you to throw your arms around me and hug me. 🙂
Where were you back when I was a kid being tortured, tormented, harassed and mentally beaten up? My tormentors started in 5th grade and didn’t let up until I was in 12th, and that’s only because I graduated and moved away from my very small hometown. I was told by my teachers not to be a “tattle-tale” and by my parents to “toughen up”. All that did was isolate me and make me not trust a single adult in my life. If my parents weren’t willing to stick up for me, who was I supposed to count on? To this day, at 42 years old, I still resent my parents for not protecting me, for not believing me that the abuse (and yes I do consider this abuse, as bad as any physical beating I could have gone through) was as bad as it was. I wish that my mom would have been able to spend even 5 minutes with you, so you could explain to her that it’s up to her to stick up for her kid, and not to let me get to the point where I didn’t trust anyone, not even myself. The 11 year old little girl in me thanks you!!!
Michelle, I am so sorry that you went through so much abuse without an adult putting a stop to it. Shame on them! I am glad you gave yourself a chance to make it through instead of ending your life the way so many of our young people have been doing now. Those “mean kids” and bullies often grow up and leave their abusive ways behind without ever knowing the real damage they caused and learning from it. The adults in your life not only failed you by not intervening but, also failed the bullies. I was also picked on in school for being poor and dressing badly. It hurt a lot and I used to think about just not being around anymore. However I also believed in myself and I grew up, became a nurse and made a good life for myself. I taught my children and grandchildren to never stand by while another is being harmed by bullies, even if they just go get an adult. They have all made me proud by standing up for others when necessary and by not intentionally being mean themselves. It is never OK to stand by in the face of injustice and all children become better adults if they are taught this!
Thank you SO much for giving me the tools to help my children! Right now they are only 6, 3 and 8mths but we have already had some talks. I know have a great outline for future discussions! We have talked about standing up for other kids and I am proud to say my daughter has. But I am sure someday she will be on the receiving end and hopefully she will have the tools to help her deal with it! Thank you AGAIN!!!
I love that your daughter has stood up for other kids. You must be a good Mommy. 🙂
Could you please come over for coffee? Because just LAST night,my daughter and I had a talk about mean kids, too. It breaks my heart, too. I love your advice you have to Elijah. I want to take this post and hang it on my bathroom mirror!
I’ll be over tomorrow around 11 am. I take my coffee with half and half and smidge of honey.
Wonderfully said. Thank you!
You’re welcome. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
this was an awful article…What awful advice.
Jk, there were no negative comments so I thought I’d be a bully and start something. great article.
Don’t mess with me, Nathan. Clearly, I am quite fierce when I’m angry.
I am the mother of four between the ages of 23 and 6, I can totally relate to your momma bear feelings of wanting to pummel a mean kid! As you can imagine, through the years I have seen my fair share.
I too have always told my children to stick up for ANYONE who is being picked on or bullied. I have always stressed to them the importance of not leaving someone out and to speak up if they see it happening. It is so important that we teach our children compassion. I wasn’t always a Christ following mother. My older three didn’t get the same messages of the bible my youngest is receiving, but they have always known to be good to people. You never know what another person (big or small) may be going through. I too have told them NEVER to be the mean kid.
In these times we see far to much bullying. It is easier with internet and cell phones bullying doesn’t even have to be in person anymore. Suicide is on the rise and we as parents need to stop bullying and give our children the tools to not only cope themselves but to help others.
EXCELLENT post! can I share your post on my blog?
If you share, kindly link back to the original post, if you don’t mind. 🙂
(oops! this was supposed to be a reply to you and I posted as a stand alone comment.)
I worry about the suicide thing, too. One of the reasons I stressed to Elijah to always tell someone when he’s being harassed is because so many times these kids are taunted relentlessly and no one knows. Then, suddenly, the child feels hopeless and just wants to escape the pain. Getting it out in the open reduces those chances.
I would be honored to have you share it. Thank you.
Wow! After my 9 year old son came home yesterday upset about the way a group of boys had been mistreating him while playing football at recess( some were friends) i was really hurt and bothered by what he was telling me. I prayed for God to guide me to show him how to deal with circumstances like these. And then I come across this on FB! The Lord workd in mysterious ways! Thank you so much for sharing!
Wow. I’m so thankful God used me and this post to encourage you.
Love this article and just what I needed to read this evening. Just today I had to talk to my son’s 2nd grade teacher about a mean kid and the Children’s Church Director at Church about another mean kid. My son has been picked on/bullied since he was in Kindergarten. Breaks this mom’s heart.
My daughter had to start dealing with mean girls this year in Preschool 🙁 Like another person posted, she didn’t understand why girls were telling her that she wasn’t pretty enough to be their friend and that they never wanted to be her friend.
I’m am absolutely overwhelmed with the number of kids being bullied at such a young age. Makes my heart hurt.
Me too! I am especially shocked and disheartened that little preschool and K age girls are siphoning out friendships based on being pretty or popular. What on earth gives them such ideas at such a young age! How awful! Hopefully mothers will get involved.
This is the best article I have read regarding bullying. Thank you for your biblical perspective. This is absolutely the correct way to handle it. Even when you want to tell your kid to kick the other in the chin.
What a generous compliment. Thank you so much.
(My pastor tells his 4 boys “If one of you comes back bloody, you better ALL come back bloody.” I love that!!! haha)
What a beautifully written piece. As a Mom that is just starting to experience the possibility of “mean kids”, I will hold this post close and use it as a light house. Thank you for sharing this story with us.
Thank you, Nikol. I pray you never “need” this post in the future.
As a mom of two boys, 5 and 7, I am already dealing with this as well. My 7 year old gave me a lesson in Jesus. He came home and told me a bigger girl in his class had been taking his things and dropping them or putting them out of reach. I told him to talk to the teacher (I was livid) and he calmly said “Mommy, I think I should handle it.” I said, “How do you think we should do this?” And he said “Mommy, maybe if I’m really nice to her, she will feel special. If she feels special, maybe she won’t be mean.” This time, it worked. Who knows about the next, but I’m glad his first thought was kindness.
On the other hand, my five year old has a habit of saying mean things that he hears older kids say but doesn’t really understand. We’re working on this diligently, so I hope my pre-K boy will be kind by Kindergarten!
Your 7 year old sounds like a great kid. And your 5 year old sounds just like every kid I know! I think they all repeat stuff they don’t understand. It’s good to stay on top of it. They’ll figure it out. 🙂
Thanks for this post. Dealing with 4 Mean Girls in my daughter’s 5th grade class. It’s sickening. Most days I want to punch some girls in the face and ring some mama’s necks. A threat to talk to parents would not help in this case…..parents who see no wrong in their children. This was encouraging and good words of wisdom. Thank you!
It’s so hard when the parents are just as rude. And I think dealing with Mean Girls is WAY harder than dealing with mean boys. Girls are so manipulative. Hang in there, Mom.
Our local newspaper posted your link so had to read it. I am with EandEsMama as i was just informed last night that my 12 yr old daughter is getting picked on in the locker room during PE.
So reading this has opened my eyes even more on how to talk to my daughter. You are correct the meanness is more in the girls then the boys. For EandEsMama i agree talking to the parents when they have their own meanness issues is hard to deal with. I am planning on talking to both these girls parents when i have a chance. I happen to work with the one girls mom so will be talking to her sooner then the other one. But I also gotten ahold of the school last night and told the prinicpal that i wanted to talk to him and the counselor at the same time on Friday(as they have no school today). He emailed me back this morning and said he would make time and would get ahold of the counselor and make time there also for me when i get to the school.
I don’t stand for my kids getting bullied and tell them not to bully themselves. We just all have to stand with eachother on this topic since it has gotten a lot worse in the last 20 years if no sooner. Thank you Sandy.
Would you mind posting the link of your newspaper so I can see it? Thank you so much. 🙂
“You are correct the meanness is more in the girls then the boys.”
I disagree, and think such gender labels are not in ANYONE’s benefit. How many moms are reading this? “Ah, yes, I’m a girl. We *are* more horrible than boys! lulz”
In many respects I was a tom-boy => Jane Goodall and the apes. In high school, I was in a boy-dominated drum line, and I can tell you that meanness is VERY alive in boys. They are most horrible to each other right out in the open. It horrified me, how they would call out abuse to each other, or sneak up behind and pull their sticks up into each other’s junk as a prank. (I had no idea how bottom-of-the-pecking-order me would handle such a sexualized offense, and thankfully I never had to.) When REALLY p***ed off, they talk behind backs too. Ever been in a shop class? Different social class of boys, same confrontations.
In researching for a college paper with the thesis that ‘girls need to open their career opportunities by studying more math’, I read an interesting study conducted in the UK between working class and middle class elementary school children. The girls had labels and expectations about only being good if they were reserved, CONTAINED their emotions and experiences, and helped out (nurtured) other classmates. Boys were free to be hellions and perform miserably in academics, and still earn the labels of “good” and “great potential”. Boys will be boys, after all. We are all human. Demons are just expressed differently, partly due to how “the village” allows it.
I’m not a bully expert, I’m just speaking from my own experience.
I have a teenage girl and the meanness started much earlier and has been much more manipulative. With boys, it’s been more physical and verbal taunting/mocking. With the girls it has been more ignoring, gossiping, excluding, backstabbing and back-handed compliments. It’s a lot harder to call out, because it’s often “friendly fire.” Girls within the friend group, ganging up on one.
For me, as the mom of both, it’s been much harder for me to guide my daughter through it than it has been to guide my son simply because it’s so much more sophisticated.
I have to agree with these observations. I am the one who pulled my son out. I think what you said is right on about how boys bully. I also depends on the sensitivity of the child. My daughter is sensitive, but she still seems to bounce back better than my son. My son was falling into deep depression and crying everyday after school. It does alarm me that my preschool age daughter has become aware of body image since starting school. Her classmates have been pointing out that her mom is fat. (me/lol) I am not offended, but I don’t like that that young of girls are thinking about that at all. I think that is coming from the parents.
Thank you from a Christian public school teacher. I have wanted to have the non-Christian response, too. In my classroom it is a daily battle dealing with mean kids. I try to use the same message only The name of Jesus has to be left out. Sad, but true. I try instead to model what Jesus would do instead.
My son was adopted from India and has had his fair share of cruel and insensitive remarks. He learned to walk away, but the sting remains in how he sees himself sometimes. However, he has become a champion for the underdog. He also knows…we still have his back…even at college. Thank you, again.
Thank you for being a Christian teacher in the public schools. What a light you are!!!!!
Your approach is much better than the one I chose when my teenage daughter shared a story about picking up her little brother from the after-shool program at the church gym. She told me that when she picked him up she noticed another kid bullying him in the gym. I told her to tell that kid the following: “if you ever touch my brother again or even look at him in the eyes, my daddy will go to your house and kill your parents…” Works every time, though.
Oh my gosh…I just laughed out loud. You win for funniest comment.
How is that not making your daughter the mean kid….people — all kids (and adults) are sinful in nature even yours…teach your children to see people as God sees them…hurting, struggling, trying to figure out who they are — yes these kids are making terrible decisions in their behavior but so do we at times…how many times do I yell at my kids when I could’ve just had a normal conversation… how many times do I jump to conclusions about their behavior without asking them about it?…Its a dangerous road when you can’t see your own sin and need for grace and forgiveness…that is what you need to be teaching your children not to threaten people with murder…
Sooo…..you are teaching your daughter to be mean in order to deal with mean kids? Doesn’t seem logical….besides that it makes all the other kids not like your kids, which ostracizes them even more.
At Robert, Your right that her approach was better than yours! Sorry, but yours really only adds to the problem and you and your daughter could get into trouble using threats like that. I am proud of you for being able to say that your approach maybe wasn’t the best one.
@everyone – it truly takes a village! I don’t care whose kid is doing the bullying, if an adult sees it happening, I believe it is their duty to call that kid out and let them know that their behavior is not acceptable. One comment given in a mature non-threatening, discreet manner is usually going to work the best. If the kid feels he/she got yelled at, he will become defensive and in most cases the bullying will escalate. Teaching our children to say something nice to anyone they think could use a boost, teaches them empathy. A compliment or smile and friendly greeting might be the only positive thing they receive in that day!
I think a person has to be very careful about teaching the child that bullying back is the answer. I know a boy who felt he was bullied in school and he got the idea from somewhere that if he could only defend himself, that would be the answer. After he left school he lifted weights and “bulked up” and even started being a sort of gang leader in the community. When he had sons of his own, he straightened up his life to a certain extent but encouraged his boys to fight each other so they wouldn’t be the bullied kids. The result was that when his son found out his best friend was going to be in the same class with him in kindergarten, he asked, “Is he the one I am supposed to fight?”
spooky! that is just teaching kids to be bullies in return. And to make empty threats . where is the good in that?
It’s funny how God puts things in front of you when you need it. I am reading this during a sleepless night because my daughter was bullied by the mean girl just today. The only difference is this mean girl is an adult who was administering a reading evaluation to my daughter. She went as far as to ask another teacher, in front of my daughter, “shouldn’t first graders read better than this?”. Who does that?! I am having a real hard time walking in love on this one, but it is my goal. The school my children attend just finished an anti-bulling week…that should include adults as well. What a terribly confusing situation for those children.
Oh Kim…I would be at that school in a SECOND. I think dealing with an adult changes the situation entirely. You can still act in love, but an adult bullying a child is something that needs to be dealt with swiftly and directly.
Real and brilliant Christ centred reflection thank you.
Thank you, Elaine.
I needed this today. My six year old son has been bullied so bad at school, that he came home yesterday and said he wanted to die. At 6 years old! I had a similar life talk with him.
Ashlee…that makes me want to cry. My son came home from school the other day and said, “if this happens 3 more times by the end of January, I’m moving to a different county.” :/
Have you talked to the school about the incessant bullying? It sounds like someone there needs to step in. No 6 year old should want to die.
This made me cry! Beautiful words of wisdom♡ I had to give my daughter this talk when she was in first grade! She has such a good heart that she could only ever see the good in people and so when her bully “apologized” she accepted it as truth. She eventually realized that it was safer to stay away and move on but it hurt her to do so. I was always there for her though and she knew it. Thankfully she learned to be the person that stands up for the kids being bullied! I told her to stand by is to be a bully too. Thank you for your wonderful words Now that my daughter is 12 the bullying looks a little different. I’ve talked with her about this but she may need some more kind words of wisdom so thanks again for those!
My son has a good heart, too, and is so quick to forgive. I love that about him, but it sometimes means kids take advantage of him.
And yes, bullying for girls at 12 is a whole different ball game. My daughter is now 14 and in HS and I cannot believe the way her “friends” manipulate each other, gossip about each other and exclude those who don’t conform. She’s not very receptive to input, so I need to approach it differently with her. It’s hard.
Bravo for you! I think you did exactly the right thing. I always have the fear that some parent will get up on my face for “speaking” to their kid (cause that happened one time) but sometimes you just have to say something to let them know that behavior is not okay. I was at a play place with my kids one time and my 3yo was playing in a little area that was blowing balloons around and some 8-10 year old kid was standing outside the area trying to get one of the little kids to give him a balloon. After several attempts of “hey kid, give me a balloon” and “hey, send one over here!” he upgraded to “hey you little twat give me a balloon!”
I’m not sure he even knew what that meant, but I immediately barked, “watch your mouth!” at him and he stood up straight immediately, apologizing and making a hasty exit.
Yeah, I agree about not being sure if the other parent will be receptive. If I had known the father, I would have spoken directly to him. It was a new team and I don’t know the kids yet.
You did the right thing by saying something to the kid at the play place. 🙂
I am totally using this as my children’s church lesson this week. I always talk to the kids about praying for the “mean kid” and not being the “mean kid” (Wouldn’t it make your parents upset if you were mean to one of their kids? How would God feel if you were mean to one of His children… and aren’t we ALL God’s children?) I talk to the kids about how mean people were to Jesus, yet He still prayed for them even as he was dying on the cross for us. I remind them that no one is that mean to us, so we too should pray for them. But I’ve never thought to remind them that even though Jesus was perfect people were still mean to Him! I love that connection! On a separate note, I too have approached children. My favorite tactic is to give the “mean kid” another chance by saying, “Hi, I’m Mason’s mom. You must be John Doe. He tells me you’re mean to him at lunch. I hope that’s not true, you seem like you would be a nice kid!” So far so good with that approach! Seems like kids respond well when they know that you know, but still give them a chance to be nice on their own! Loved your commentary, it made me cry! Thank God there are caring parents out there, especially ones willing to share their advice and experiences to help other parents!
Your approach is outstanding. There was another commenter who had a similar approach of simply introducing herself to the mean kid. I am going to borrow this. Thank you.
Thank you for posting this. I have had the knee jerk reaction as well. I sometimes feel like I am at my wits end with the amount of bullying or just mean kids that I see. I am a mother of a 10 yr old and 8 yr old and they both have seen this happen and unfortunately been the victims as well. It was so bad this past year for my 10 yr old that I took an open position at the school so that my daughter felt more confident and safe. Your advice and talk that you had with you son is exactly the words I have been looking for. Thank you again. And it is nice to see there are other momma bears out there 🙂
Momma Bears UNITE! 🙂
I am a first time reader. Beautiful post. We just took two of our five out of school. Both fourth graders, one boy,one girl. They both had their own struggles, but the same thiing. For our daughter, it was mean girl stuff. As you said in response to a reader-the mean girl stuff is on it’s own level. I know how to parent them through bully stuff. All but one of my kids has had issues. We find it usually happens at lunch,recess, or passing periods depending on the school level. But this mean girl stuff in elementary school is on a whole different level. It is so sophisticated in nature, so adult. I have tried to bring change, we have been working on it for two years-nada. My kids are resiliant-but only to a point. My fourth grade son told me just yesterday(they have been home schooling for two weeks now) that he could handle being bullied,picked on, and told he was no good. But what he couldn’t deal with was how it made hime feel when it happened to others. He said that he felt so protective that all he wanted to do was punch these mean kids-even the girls. And that made him not like himself. So as you can see,it can be hard emotionally in different ways. I am just so glad we made the decision we did-we have much happier and less stressed kids at the moment. We plan to make changes for all the kids next year or sooner if need be. The hardest part in all of this is when you confront the parents and they feel their kid is fine. They feel we are not doing our job because our kids should learn to be stronger and not get upset over being treated badly. I personally feel that we do not give kids enough respect ion matters such as this. If we were listening to an adult who was telling us about being picked on,bullied,or anything of that abusive nature, we would be encouring them to leave,move on. We would tell them no one should have to put up with that. We would say things like,”like yourself enough to not be treated that way” etc. But children-we say look the other way,we say it happens to everyone and it’s not right, we say you can handle it etc. why? Anyway-thank you for your empowering post-I hope it gives more parents the feeling they can step in and stick up for their child. I hope your readers take a minute and look through the responses, so they can see that for some removing them is the best thing for them-maybe not for the parents-but for the kids. Have a beautiful day and I am looking forward to reading more of your blog.
I have considered taking 2 of my 3 out of school. I get it. You know what’s best. Sometimes you just have to protect them…
I have six children between the ages of 6 and 13. My two oldest are girls. We were brand new to a school and my oldest daughter saw a boy being picked on by pretty much the entire class. She stood up and told them to stop and became his friend. It changed the way the entire class treated him. The teachers were amazed at the change that one child could make in a class. My second daughter has been bullied by the class “queen.” We have had many discussions with her and I see her strength growing. She is able to pull her shoulders back and and stand up to this girl. The teacher is always there beside her to support her and she knows that I am there too. The other girls are gaining strength and pulling away from being under this girl’s power. There are hard days and sometimes tears but we know who we are – children of God – and that gives us the strength to pull through those hard days. Thank you for your blog and words of wisdom!
I love your daughter.
The basis of bullying is the imbalance of power, say an adult verses a child. Shame.
I can definitely be that. Thank you for taking the time to comment. 🙂
But as adults and parents it is our job and responsibility to have the power to teach and shepherd children into becoming good adult members of a community. She was not bullying. She was shepherding.
LOVE this! As the GRIZZLY of Momma bears!
I am Mom to a now grown son who was very hard of hearing his first 5 years of life and as a result developmentally delayed. He had to take special Ed classes to catch up in school.
Bullying on “special” kids is multiplied!
The WORST thing is bullying does not always just mean the KIDS are doing it…
He had a TEACHER when he was 16 years old who had a can with many shapened pencils in it on her desk for times when kids forgot pencils.
My son forgot his FREQUENTLY… or would lose it during the day. (part of his disability is disorganization). She clearly had a chip on her shoulder against Trey for some unknown reason.. let me also say THIS was one of his “SPECIAL ED CLASSES”.. one day when he forgot his pencil she refused to let him borrow one from her stockpile.
INSTEAD she called him out in front of the class for forgetting and FORCED HIM TO WRITE 100 TIMES with a COLOR CRAYON “I will not forget my pencil anymore in Mrs. Underwoods Class”.. of course this embarrassed him horribly and made him the butt of so many jokes throughout the school. It was at he point where he wanted to drop out of school.
My son told me what happened. Momma Grizzly immediately called the school alerting all of the officials of what was going on in her class. (this was not the first ugly thing she did to him and I am sure OTHER students, she had quite the reputation as being hateful and belittling to her Special students. ) I gave her quite the talking to… the equivalent of body slamming her thru the phone as her aide told me she walked away crying… saying I was the RUDEST parent she had EVER talked to in her life…. a few days later she was in class again trying to make a spectacle of my son getting the kids to laugh about him getting his Mommy to take up for him… THAT time I BODY SLAMMED HER CAREER! She was fired!
Moral to that story… be careful who you bully… his Grand Mother just might secretly be the assistant to the Superintendent!
It sounds like you did your son and the entire student body a favor. There are a lot of wonderful, self-sacrificing, loving, patient teachers out there. But sometimes, they need to find another career. Good for you.
I found your blog on facebook through some friends who shared it and I have to say Thank you! My 2 older girls, 12 and 9 have been being bullied since the being of the school year. We live in a small town and just moved here 2 years ago, so they don’t fit in because they didn’t grow up here. My 9 year old came home and a couple months ago and was crying and told my husband and me that she never wanted to go to school again. (She is extremely intelligent and she loves school, so we knew something was wrong) She said that someone made a list at school and told her that she was on the unpopular list and was below the boys’ bathrooms and the janitor 🙁 I called the school and talked to the principal, teacher and counselor, they then had a talking to all the kids in the 2 4th grade classes. It honestly didn’t help. She was picked on and teased because her mom called and “told” on everyone. I have been trying to help both the girls out and some days I am just lost at what to say :/ It breaks my heart not knowing what to say. I can only do so much without getting arrested. I am constantly trying to find a way to explain to them that those kids’ opinions mean nothing, they are just the mean kids!
Thank you again. I plan to sit down and talk to the girls as soon as they get home from school!
Ugggh…I just want to hug you and your daughters. I’m so sorry.
I can’t explain why, but this post brought tears to my eyes. I have three grown girls who are strong confident people, but I empathize with the horrible power of bullies. I love and admire how you handled this, not only at the time of the action, but even more the morning after. If only as parents we could always find the right words to empower our children.
Kudos to you. Thanks so much for sharing this story. I hope it shows other parents how to empower strong, loving people.
Thank you, Ramona.
Bless you for this, it is the first time I have seen both an explanation of how the bullied person feels and a viable solution to the dilemma. Of course as mothers we are going to protect our child to the ends of the earth, but empowering them with the knowledge that the bully may have problems in their life as well and that their bullying may be a result of those problems and not a reflection on our child’s worth is a valuable lesson about the realities of life. There are so many stories of bullying in the comments, and just from the past few days, this is a very real problem with lifelong damage. The bully definitely needs to know that they are not building themselves up by tearing someone else down.
I am overwhelmed by the number of families dealing with this. It’s heart-wrenching…
I thought your advice was wonderful. I couldn’t help but think that it is great advice for adults too. We should all strive to “never be the mean kid”. To stand up for those who are hurting and to remember that people are often mean because ” Sometimes, it’s because it makes them feel strong. Sometimes, they are going along with the crowd to be accepted. Sometimes, it’s because no one ever told them it was wrong to treat people that way. Sometimes, it’s because someone has been mean to them. But almost NEVER is it because of you. Don’t ever define yourself based on the opinion of the Mean Kid.”
Absolutely! I tell my daughter all the time, “You are going to be dealing with Mean Girls your entire life. I’m 45 and still deal with them.”
We are our children’s biggest advocates so it is great to see you there for him. And, taking it further, advocating for those that don’t have the support/guidance they need from parents. Great article and well said. My kids are 7, 4 and 6 mo. and I can’t believe how many times we have already had to discuss bullying and ways to handle.
Keep up the conversations with them. It will make a huge difference.
I just stumbled upon this post and had to tell you how much I love it. My child is in Kindergarten..KINDERGARTEN…and we’re already dealing with mean kids! Thank you for sharing the discussion you had with your son. I’ve been telling my son the same things, only on a 6-year-old’s level and I pray it sticks with him. I look forward to reading more from you.
Isn’t it sad? Kindergarten should be coloring and recess. 🙁
Your thoughts in this article are so helpful, thank you. My daughter recently was sent a text from someone she considered and valued highly as a “best” friend. I read the text, it was pure hate…things said like I’ve never like you, you made me be fake, therefore, you never knew the real me, I don’t want to be friends with you. This friendship has been for close to 4 years. My daughter was shaken and hurt, and her question, “how do I know who is being fake or real, who can I trust”. We explained to her, that she couldn’t be defined by this girl’s words. The mama bear in me wanted to go straight to the child and parents, we prayed about it and decided to pray for this child and her heart. At the same time letting our daughter know, that the friendship would never be the same, we encouraged her invest in healthy relationships, to make sure her words were pure in conversation. See, these two had engaged in conversations about other girls, we had warned our daughter, that this could come back and hurt her and others. My daughter has learned a huge hard lesson, one this mama has a hard time with. She is doing better now, and I am so thankful she opened up about and shared the text with us. This texting subject is a whole other subject. Thank you again for your thoughts.
Oh, the texting–and all social media. That is a completely new level of bullying. We are dealing with it daily with my daughter. It sounds like you handled it beautifully. It’s a hard lesson, but I’m sure your daughter will grow in character because of it.
I’m crying, Sandy. Your words to your son were so beautiful, and so right on. One of my college girls was bullied by her roommate last year, and that situation has left deep scars. I wish I could have said to her what you said to your son. Thanks for those words.
I had a very similar conversation with my daughter last year. And in addition I wrote her a letter pointing out all the qualities I see in her, those God given talents, her little quirks that make me smile. Everything good I could think of or that other people have noticed. She still keeps that letter with her and reads it every now and then when she needs a pep talk and I’m not there.
I recently had a similar situation occur. We live in the very back of our neighborhood and most of the children playing don’t always venture all the way around to our area. But when they do and they want to play, because we have a lot big enough for football or softball, I always welcome them. This one particular day a few kids showed up and my son and his overnight guest were out playing. I assumed having fun. My husband walked out to witness my child being ugly to one of the kids I have never met. I instantly ran out, grabbed my son by the collar and in the house we went. I scorned him, he was punished and then his guest walked in and said…. That kid was being really ugly to your son. He was calling him and me horrible names. He was just taking up for us. I felt like the worst mom on the earth. I instantly ran out the door in tears, jumped in my car and drove until I found this kid. This is what I said…. You come to my house, play in my yard and have the gall to call my son and his friend names? Really? I know your mother and she would be devastated to know how you treated my child. If you can’t be nice, you can’t play in my yard. Period. My child was punished yet you are the one who should have been. . If it happens EVER again. I will knock on YOUR door and let your mom in on the the secret…. He has since been kind…… My son plays with him often. He just needed the reality check that an adult was aware of his actions. I had a long talk with my son about mean kids that day too.
I am so glad I ran across your blog today. Wow….you ate spot on. I wish I would have thought of all these things to say to our son when he was being bullied. We moved to a town when our son was in 4th grade and he was constantly being called names. We went to the principal, to certain parents, and nothing changed. Finally, last year when our son was a freshman everything came to a head…..our son was being physically bullied. We didn’t find this out from our son because he was to afraid to tell us anything, thinking that if we said anything it would only make it worse. A fellow team member on his football team told our daughter what was happening…..our son had been shoved in a locker and his head put in a toilet. We immediately went to administration with what we were told and we were told by them that boys would be boys. Are you kidding me. You seem we knew something was going on with our son, because he would come home from school and be really mean to us, he just never would tell us what was wrong. We decided to leave this school district since nothing was being done and move to another school district in the area. Our son is a totally different child, he’s happy, treats his family well, and the students love him at our new school. We have had to go back to the old school because of a game we played against them, and right there in front of the superintendent the entire student body of the school we left, made fun of our son as he was walking across the court. Nothing was said to them and nothing done. It’s ridiculous that there are schools out there who aren’t teaching students that bullying is wrong, and obviously neither are their parents. Thanks for your words of wisdom.
Oh, so many of these replies are our story. My 16 year old was bullied to the point of becoming depressed. We removed her from the school and sent her to another where she is thriving and loving school. What we didn’t realize was even though she really was happy and appeared happy the depression hadn’t gone away. More than a year later the depression reared it’s head and she ,lucky for us, she shared that she had thought about suicide. She is now healthy and well with medication and therapy. Bullies do much more damage then most people realize.
Through tears I write this. And I’m sure it will be through tears again when I read it to my son this evening.
“Shining light on darkness makes darkness go away.”
I almost cried reading this and would have if my 3 year old hadn’t been sitting next to me at the time. My son hasn’t had a problem with other children yet, but about a year and a half ago we came out of an abusive marriage. While it is better, we still have to deal with emotional, verbal, and psychological aspects of it. Almost every phone call my 3 year old has with his dad leaves me close to tears. Not only does he get used as a tool of control, abuse, and manipulation toward me, he is made to feel guilty and to feel he needs to choose sides. This is article is helpful, and I will be telling my children these things when they are older. It doesn’t matter who it is, a bully is a bully. I always want my children to know I m on their side.
Your story touched me. Praying for your safety.
I saw this posted on FB by a friend. As a new Mom, it sounded like a good read. Although I very much appreciated what you said for children, this actually applies to adults too!! I have not had to experience this yet for my daughter as she is only 2-1/2. But I found myself thinking, maybe I need to do this for myself with the mean women I work with! Thanks for the inspiration!! It just what I needed for the new year!
Will you adopt me? 🙂 ( Just kidding…I’m a 50 year old grandma.)
I have never left a comment on a blog. I really, rarely read blogs. This was simply beautiful, touching, and completely hit home! My 13 year old son has his first basketball game tonight and really did not want to go, he never would tell me why. I’ll be watching tonight for sure to see if there is a mean kid! I am also going to have the don’t be the mean kid talk – sometimes maybe we just assume that our kids know we don’t want them behaving a certain way – this has inspired me to make sure they KNOW! Thank you for taking the time to write this.
Think the number one thing parents can do is help your kid fit in where you can & to help them build their confidence, friendships & sense of belonging by keeping them active in sports or some hobby or activity that helps them connect with others like them. I always talk to my son & I taught him early on to always defend others in need & that bullying is usually a kid who has his own issues or has it rough at home but they still need to build there self esteem and sense of belonging. I think the book that helped me a lot was “Hoe to have a good kid by Friday” He has a lot of amazing points
I coach my 4 year old in tball and soccer and I am appalled at how mean spirited kids this age can be to each other. We’ve not had any issues with my 10 year old daughter, but I’m hypersensitive to it with my son because he is one of the smaller kids and takes it too personally when somebody doesn’t like him. Part of coaching these days is teaching the kids to be good losers, teammates and people. At least that’s how I roll.
Perfect. That, was perfect. The way every parent, everyone should handle these situations, just perfect.
This is just what I needed to hear today. You said it all so perfectly. Thank you!
I have been searching for a solution to help my 3rd grade daughter. A week ago she was hurt at school due to a poor decision of a mean student. She was thrown down a flight of stairs all for a laugh…and not on her part. I was upset I heard this from my scared daughter a day later and not from the school itself! This is the 2nd incident at the school with my daughter…but this time it wasn’t just humiliation…it was violent.
Your post gave me great insight on what I should do. I will pray and hope this doesn’t happen again. I will pray for the child who did this mean act on my daughter and hope Jesus can reach his heart so this will not happen again! I will attempt to “shine light on the darkness…to make darkness go away”. Thank you for shining light on this important issue!
You hate mean kids??
This is the first time also I read your blog so I do not know you. But after I read this I was just left feeling the opposite of what I think you were trying to convey. You want to teach your kids to never be mean but you combat it with anger and meanness.
I am really sorry your son got/is getting picked on. I think it’s great you are teaching him how to handle it himself (well except you stepping in) and how to stick up for others who get picked on!
But you kinda left out that Jesus loves the mean kids too. And your kid (and mine too!) will be mean. You will be mean and I will be too.
So what then? I just think there is more to be taught in this situation. Of course we have to protect our children and don’t want them to get hurt. But if there an opportunity to show love and grace to the bully, shouldn’t we? Like you said, they are mean for a reason so perhaps they need some Jesus love and grace too. I know I desperately need it everyday. I just don’t think it’s enough to say “stop it!” and “you never be mean.” And is that kid solely defined as a ‘mean kid’ because of his sin? I sure hope my sin is not my identity.
comment in response to Julia above. Thank you… Wow … I can’t believe nobody else had this reaction. Every child is capable of making bad choices and being “mean” while learning and maturing. Labeling children is wrong and can be reinforcing of the wrong behavior. Be very careful of being too quick to label any child as a “bad” kid. Does it not take a village to raise a child. How about role modeling kindness?
I can see both of your points. But I think you have missed the point of this post. Everyone needs Jesus. Everyone. The bullied and the bullies. And the villages that raise the bullied and the bullies. None of us are going to get it right every single time. But showing grace doesn’t mean we don’t stand up for our kids. Showing love doesn’t mean we don’t step in and have a voice when something needs to be said. This post focused on what her son needed, what her son had to learn, what her son had to be equipped to deal with. And I think she did a great job. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a heart for the kid who chose to be mean in that situation.
My father in law says all the time that it was harder to be bad when he was a kid. Because if his neighbor caught him being bad (in various ways, including being mean to another kid) he’d get a whooping from his neighbor and then another from his mom after the neighbor called her. Now I am by no means saying we should ‘whoop’ other people’s kids!!! But I don’t think there is anything wrong with an adult telling a child when he/she is out of line, especially when protecting another child. I have stepped in, once even when the child in pain was not my own. And I would do it again.
Thank you, Kelly. 🙂
Julia: Thank you for your input and for saying it kindly. I can tell you are a very loving, caring person. Please allow me to respond, as I’m sure there are many readers who left feeling the same way.
1. I am not a parenting expert or an anti-bully expert. I wrote this post after one incident and one conversation with my son. I am an avid student of my own children, but I have no idea how to parent anyone else’s…and most days, I’m not quite sure how to parent mine.
2. I was the first one to admit that my feelings about mean kids were “neither motherly, nor Christiany” and went on to say what I felt inside toward mean kids was “wrong, bad, illegal and not at all like Jesus.” I wasn’t trying to imply that any of it was good or loving. Just that it “is.” If you read through any other posts, you will see that I am happy to throw myself under the bus to illustrate how NOT to do something. Most of my posts are born from me doing something wrong and then trying to make it right.
3. You pointed out that I never told my son that Jesus loves the mean kid, too. Just to clarify, this post was never meant to be an exhaustive dissertation on the subject of bullying or the love of God. It was one conversation. I’m sure I left out a lot of true and good things to say. I’m sure we will have many, many more conversations about this as the years go on and opportunities present themselves.
4. I agree that we all have the capacity to be mean. The more my son is picked on, the more I see the capacity grow in him to repeat the cycle. That is precisely why I stressed to him the importance of NEVER being the Mean Kid. More than once, I’ve handed the phone to a kid to make the apology call, proofread the apology note, stood with a firm hand on the shoulder during a verbal apology and marched a kid straight over to a neighbor’s house to apologize. I’m a giant advocate for nipping my children’s meanness in the bud at the earliest age possible and as often as necessary. I tell my kids over and over, “Jesus cares very much how you treat people.”
5. You asked, “If there is an opportunity to show love and grace to the bully, shouldn’t we?” I believe that sometimes the most loving and grace-filled thing we can say to someone is, “No. That hurts” or “Stop it.” In fact, that is exactly what Jesus told us to do.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matt 18:15-18
The actual confrontation can be the very thing that wins them over to Christ.
(Incidentally, after the next practice, Elijah told me that he and this kid were totally cool. He told me his name and he said, “We’re friends now.” I guess this Bible stuff can really work!)
6. My intent was never to label the child or define him by his sin. I called him “Mean Kid” because I didn’t know his real name (wouldn’t have used it, even if I did) and for effect. (You know the movie “Mean Girls”? I was thinking about that.) I am sorry if that’s how it came across.
Clearly, you know your own kids best, and I know mine. My son needed someone to step in for him–to stick up for him–that day, and I did. I’m very glad I did. I may not the next time. As I said, the best thing I can do is empower my kids to handle Mean Kids on their own.
As a mother, I link arms with you and support your efforts to raise kids who love the Lord and treat other children (and someday, adults) with kindness.
Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.
Blessings to you and your family.
Thank you for taking the time to reply and clarify some things. Also really appreciate the thoughtful discussion!
I am a former public school teacher myself. I had to be the advocate on both sides of the party. Bullying can be a very serious issue. It was so hard to get the “mean kids” to understand really WHY they were being mean, to really get at the heart of it in order to really instill change. When I taught 6th grade, we showed the kids a clip about the Columbine shooting (I know, a whole other issue) as part of a movement called Rachel’s Challenge in order to instill kindness. One of the issues we talked about was the perspective of the shooters and how they were possibly treated in the school. Don’t want to start a whole debate about this but just wanted to say was so difficult to teach my students to be kind.
Also read more of your story on here. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story about your family, especially of Noah. I am so sorry for your loss. I am almost crying here thinking about it.
You reply post is eloquent and well spoken, but I want to share something with you. I was a bullied child. Now, I am a grown woman with a grown child. I love my mother dearly, but I still have negative feelings about how my she handled this type of situation. I don’t blame her, she was doing what she knew and the best she could, but her idea of handling it was to teach me to turn the other cheek. Ignore it, it will go away. The teachers said the same thing. That is just simply not the truth. The feeling of being abandoned to handle something I was not equipped to handle has shaped my adult life and how hair trigger aggressive I was to defend my own child. The repercussions rippled many years from the actual events. I understand that the bully needs love too, and he/she may not be getting it at home, but the child being bullied needs HELP immediately, not just love. Mean is mean, no matter how you label it. So many kids are mean and their parents are mean because they weren’t taught to be nice either. Not enough people step in and say this is not ok! I am not trying to debate anything, just wanted to give the perspective of someone who has gone through this herself and with her child. Do something, anything, to let a child know that you can be depended on. This is a trust issue between parents and child/teachers and child. If you are not there when they need you how do they ever trust you again?
Sandy, I applaud you reaction. It was diplomatic, tactful and effective, but most of all, your child trusts that you have his back!
Wow, you hit the nail right on the head! I was the same way as a kid, and to this day I still have some resentment towards both of my parents over how they dealt (or didn’t deal with, in my case) the abuse I had to go through.
I have a very similar story, and I still struggle with the repercussions. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that “ignore it and it will go away” did not work. To this day I still can’t comprehend how the adults in my life stood by and watched day after day but did nothing to help.
Love this!!! Beautifully written from a loving mom’s heart!! Thank you so very much for sharing!!
I do really love this! I think it’s something that needs to be addressed with every kid. I wish that there was a little more talk about grace given to the “Mean Kids” (as a former mean kid…. that was dealing with some pretty traumatic stuff). I acted in some ways I’m not proud of as a 10-13 year old, but there was a lot of good in me too and I would have been completely broken over a parent chastising me (not that you necessarily did). Especially since I was already getting that at home. Just a thought.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. The advice and counsel you gave your son was perfect! I was tormented by mean kids most of my elementary years. For no reason really. I was athletic. I was nice. But on my first day of school I somehow managed to get on the bad side of the ‘mean girls’ ring leader. And even now at 28, I am still plagued with feelings of inadequacy. I wish my mom would’ve given me this advice. I don’t think she knew how to deal with my situation. She probably just figured I would figure it out and learn to be a better person because of it. And I DID! I really tried to better myself and be aware of how I treated people. But, like I mentioned I still feel self-doubt because of the mean kids. This post helped make sense of things and to ease the pain of the little girl inside of me. Thank you so much! Now I feel like I would be able to know how to talk to my own children to empower them.
You go girl! That was awesome!!! 🙂
this is so wonderful!! our kids are go getters in sports so they constantly feel left out and even mocked. we’ve had these conversations before too!
what is so sad is that these mean girls that are rampant in high school grow up to be mean women and teach their daughters and sons how to behave this way. it’s a gruesome cycle full of cattiness, heartbreak, broken relationships, gossip, insecurity, shame, and pain. my heart breaks for kids that are picked on and bullied. we have always told our kids to be friends with everyone and to stand up if someone is being picked on.
thanks again for sharing this with the world!!
Thank you so much for writing this. Going to talk with my daughter about this again for 3 years she has been teased with ” Hannah touch ” instead of the “cheese touch”. This all started in third grade. She now in fifth and has learned just to let me know when it’s happening again. In third grade it was happening so often that her teacher told her to “stop complaining to your mom about it”. You want to see a mamma bear knee jerk reaction. Still not proud of myself for that one. Anyway thank you for reminding me to keep inspiring my daughter, and to take the high road.
((Hugs)) I am so sorry your daughter is dealing with this. My child dealt with much the same tease earlier this year. After giving her ideas and suggestions to try to resolve the issue herself,which didn’t work well, another child was overheard by a teacher making a comment. Thankfully this teacher didn’t brush it under a rug but notified the school social worker and Director. They handled it in a way that so far has had positive results.
Praying someone is able to find a way get through to the kids.
Great Entry! SO true:)
Great post! I’m a special education teacher and I’m consistently dealing with kids who are mean to each other. You would be amazing how young bullying starts. I have a six month old son and somedays I hate to think about how one day he will be going to school with bullies. I’m going to keep this post around for future reference for when my sons grows up.
Wow. You have a new faithful reader! I saw this linked on Facebook and I just love it. I will definitely be bookmarking your wonderful words. Our children are 4, 2 and 5 months, but we have already unfortunately dealt with this with our 4 year old son. 🙁 My heart was broken for him when he came home from a church event and told me that the kids wouldn’t play with him. I wanted to go all “P90x” on them too, but resisted and gave my son a good pep talk instead. Next time this happens, I’ll be ready with your amazing words instead. Thanks for the inspiration!
My daughter has a speech problem called apraxia and in second grade a little boy bullied her so badly she quit talking altogether. He would push her, trip her, intimidate the other kids from being her friend all the way to telling her she would never find a man to marry her because he would never understand her. She went from a fun loving little girl that just loved school to hating the very site of the school. It got so bad that even the gym teacher was allowing it and even dis-included her from activities and had her play by herself because the kids wouldn’t pick her as a partner. I went to the principal a couple of times and she told me it would be taken care of immediately and then finally I said “If you don’t take care of this right now today I am calling your bosses boss! The superintendent”! She then came back to me with, ” Mrs. Tolley your daughters speech problem is so bad she will always have bullies and I do not have enough time in my day to take care of all her bullies., you as her parent need to toughen her up”…I was furious, no way my seven year old daughter should have to toughen up to take that abuse. I finally said some mean girl words to that principal and quietly and it went something close to “she is the bottom of the barrel, pond scum and had no reason to be teaching children let alone supervising teachers.” After that I left the school… we are now at a much better school with a great administration. She is on probation with her job and has had several complaints filed against her. Yet the school system does nothing. I live minutes from the little girl who jumped to her death from the water tower in Florida. Lets just say some of these kids are a horrible bread of their parents. I will so be using your words to enforce a lot of what I have already told my daughter and son because I loved your blog! So empowering.
I have to say though now that she is doing so much better.. she see’s other kids who were also bullied and maybe transferred or moved away from their school and makes them little gifts to say.. Hey I am here for you. I know your pain.. and I care. I got a gift from a friend in Canada who heard about my daughters troubles and sent her a book called “I like me” and the authors name is Saidat. You can find her on FB. She has spent her life savings to put together a anti bullying program for kids of all ages. for a younger kid this book is AMAZING! tomorrow night at dinner I will incorporate your words into my nightly dinner. Then we will discuss. Thank you for sharing your story it will help so many.
Your story moved me. Thank you for sharing it.
I really like your blog. I have two boys and I have tried to instill in them that they can not be the mean kid. We move around a lot so my kids are constantly the new kids in school and I know that it appears to them sometimes that it would be easier for them if they just went along with the crowd to avoid being the kid picked on by the mean kids. Thankfully they have always been able to make good friends that have good values even if they aren’t the most popular kids. they are both now teenagers and I have to share what one of them did not long ago. We had just moved again and I was telling my husband about a new friend of mine whose son had been bullied by mean kids for years. He was a good kid, but when he finally decided to stand up for himself he made some threats to the mean kids that were overheard by one of the teachers. Because of the schools zero tolerance policy he was expelled while these kids who had been tormenting him for years had no repercussions. My oldest son must have overheard us talking because without prompting by me, he turned around the next day and sought this kid out at scouts, making sure he included him in everything. Thankfully my son has made good friends here who have surrounded this boy with my son and over the last six months ensured that he always feels valued and no on picks on him when they are around.
I have just read the whole article and think it is wonderful and inspiring. I have a daughter who can empathise with Sommer Tolley. My, then 14 year old, granddaughter was enrolled in a high school in a new city and, from the start, was picked on by a crowd of bullies. She would be on the phone, in tears, daily to my daughter, who incidentally, has a teaching degree, to bring her home. Finally, after fruitless efforts to have the problem addressed, my daughter snapped and really told the principal a few home truths before taking her home for home schooling. I am happy to report that she is now enrolled in a church school where she is thriving, has a boyfriend who is also into horses in a big way.
My grandson was bullied for 5 days at a 4-H camp by the junior counselor. We contacted the 4-H council but we are not sure if that counselor was reprimanded in any way. So disappointed in 4-H and their Character Counts program!!
Good post. But just remember to love everyone as Jesus would. When I was a kid I picked on a girl but I honestly didn’t mean to hurt her maliciously. I didn’t know any better. That night her mother called my parents and that night my father beat me. You have some good points but we don’t always know the situation that happens behind closed doors.
Christine: I am so very, very sorry you were beaten by your father. That is horrible. 🙁
I agree that many kids (most?) have no idea the weight of their words and actions, good or bad. That is why we (parents, adults) must tell them. Loving as Jesus would means sometimes we confront the person. Multiple times, with witnesses, if necessary. Love and confrontation are not opposites.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matt 18:15-18
Amazing article.. taught me a lot about teaching my child how to stand up for himself and for what is right.
I was assisting at a grade school. 2nd grade. A new boy joined the class part way through the quarter… I could tell he was terrified. I reassured him that this was a friendly place with good people and lots of fun things to do.
A month later, I was amazed to see him picking on other children. I pointed out how he must have felt as a new person, and other children had feelings,too.
He blew past me like I wasn’t there. Hopefully he grew up somehow.
Getting on fb tonight, a friend who knew the story of my son taking up for someone being bullied recently, had posted a link to your blog on my wall…..because she knew my son had been THAT kid. What she didn’t know was the back story – the endless bullying my son has been through in the last few months. The tears, the talks, the hugs, the talk with the school counselor just this morning as I am out of ideas but yet I see my son ‘dying on the vine’ so to speak and I won’t stand for it. I won’t. I sat outside the door of his room and listened to my amazing Dad as he skyped my son tonight and talked to him about mean kids and how they evidently don’t know Jesus but my son does which makes a huge difference between them/him…..that the way they treat him says nothing about him and everything about them. Then I tucked him in and prayed with him…..when he was asleep, I prayed over him and asked God to please just help me as this precious boy’s mama to help lead him through this. My friend had no idea the blessing she gave me tonight by sharing your blog post with me. Thank you for sharing your precious mama heart with those of us who need it. Bless you…..
Thank you for this. I was praying about how to let some of this go – my son’s friends are all of the sudden excluding him. He is also 12, moved from a very small elementary school to a much larger middle school. I trusted that the Lord will show me (and him) the way…and there was this blog post. Be like Jesus, it always comes back to that. Thank you!
Wow, Sandy, I wish I’d had a friend like you in school.
I don’t think I was that kind of friend in school. 🙁 Hoping to teach my kids a better way.
Thank you for this. I loved your wisdom. My daughter has been bullied a few times…and I never knew what to do.
i think that this is GREAT! my daughter has been bullied horribly by the mean kids on our block- to the point where she will NOT go outside to play…it is really sad…she is and has been nothing but nice to them, yet they seek her out and torment her when she is outside…really PISSES me off! and i have addressed it on many occassions. my son was also bullied by another child where the child knocked him down and kicked him, repeately while the bully’s mom sat and watched and did nothing…when the nice kids in the neighborhood told the mom- she said, ‘ he derserved it.’….i went up to talk w/ mom as i thought we were friends, but she said exactly what the kids said she did…i was absolutely floored…i wanted to call the cops, but my husband didn’t want to, so we didn’t…looking back and given events since then, we really should have…
but the sad thing is that the parents of these children/bullies are exactly the same and worse….as they have attemtped to excercise bully tactics on our whole family- from standing on our doorstep ranting b/c i spoke up and called a spade a spade in which they defend their children saying’ thier kids are not mean’….i actually found it absolutely hysterical, yet incredibly sad, that as one of the parents was exercising bullying tactics.-the parent had no idea what the definition of being a bully was…repeatedly pointing out their kids do not hit others…telling us that our kids have skin as thin as glass and they need to stop running to mommy about everything- they need to learn to stand up for themselves….to which my husband explain- bullying is MORE than just hitting…it is emotional, psychological…and what is being done right now by thier actions of standing on our front porch in the manner in which they are doing is also bullying…well….very commical to see thier face when the point was made and it hit home….
we tell our kids to be the better person- don’t give them thier time, energy…bullies are not worth it-if you watch when bullies are doing thier thing and no response is given, they get flustered…..at one point i told my son to give a salute like in the military and say, ‘aye aye captain!’ then walk away…i watched when he did it and cracked up as the expression of the bully was absolutely priceless b/c she didn’t know what to do w/ that….
our kids stand up for others as they get very upset when thier friends are picked on by others…they stand up for them as they know what is right and wrong- they do not like seeing thier friends hurt….and what’s nice, they too are in a different school and thier friends there stand up for them too…;)
SO, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
I hate mean kids, too. They grow up into mean adults – but I love your example of how Jesus was also mocked and hated and he was perfect. It’s so hard to see others picked on at that age and it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job protecting your child (when you can),while also preparing him for an imperfect and sometimes cruel world.
I am so glad that you kept it real by telling us what you really would like to do. I think sometime as christians we don’t tell people what we are really thinking. We are afraid to let people know that we struggle with the same things everyone struggles with, no matter what religion they are. I am so glad that you followed through the next morning and taught you child how to take care of himself and others that are going through the same thing. You have empowered him to change his world and in turn change the whole world. I thank you for sharing. Now I have a good example for my kids and my sunday school kids.
In Christ love and mine,
Thank you for posting for my son has faced this issue in school for the last two years. Last year it was just pure bulling this year its making fun of him having seizures. I can not stand mean bulling kids and i have always taught my boys in are no better than anyone else no matter what you have in life and if you ever see someone being bullied take up for them, you always treat people with respect and how you want to be treated in return.
Thank you so much for this. As a father, I worry constantly about my son being bullied – he is a tender, empathetic kid with a love for books and a constant smile. Perfect target for the Mean Kid.
Reading about your encouragement and affirmation to your son, I seem to have sprung a leak in my eyes. Thank you again.
I love this. And I love explaining why kids are mean sometimes. I’m a teacher and have 6 of my own kids, so sometimes I have to talk to my own students or kids about their mean behavior. Usually it starts out, “I would never let someone else talk to you like that and I can’t let you do it either.” It reinforces, “Hey, I love you. You’re mine, and I’ve got your back. But he’s mine too–and I’ve got his.”
There are 2 girls in our neighborhood that are just horrible with each other. One, in particular, is a *wee* bit demanding of her own way every time. I’ve explained to my daughter that this girl is going through a rough time at home, so with her “friends” is one area that she feels like she does have control over. It’s helped my daughter understand a bit more (she’s 10). That being said, she tries to bring peace to the situation. One day she came in, though, shaking her head, and saying “They will either figure it out, or kill each other trying. I’m done trying to help them solve their problems. They fight, and that’s how it is. I’ll be friends with both of them, but when they start up, I’m just going to come inside from now on.” They all know that I refuse to have that in our yard. I’ve told them before that, in our yard, they are not allowed to use their words and be rude to each other. They are to be kind, and find a different way to solve their differences by being rude and fighting. We’ve stressed that all of them are created equally, and we need to treat everyone how we ourselves want to be treated. I will step in if it gets bad, and I will step in immediately if physical violence is involved. I will say that I’ve told my kids that, if they are caught in a situation that they are being hit, and they cannot get away to tell another adult, then they have my permission to defend themselves however they can to get away from the situation. My rule of thumb, though, is to go find an adult first, if at all humanly possible.
I am not really a religous person, but I love this and will keep this in mind if my boys were to ever go through this. Good advice!
I think you are lucky at how this played out for you and your son. I would have been humiliated had my mother done this and it could have turned into more humiliation from the kids. I will never do this but glad it worked out for you and your son.
You know your kids best, and I, mine. 🙂 This day, my son needed someone to stick up for him. I’m glad I did. It’s not really luck, as much as it’s being an avid student of my children and trying hard to be led by the Spirit of God. There is no formula. And next time will probably look different. God bless you.
This is exactly what I have told my kids. I know it got thru to. But the way I found out I wish on no one. My 18 year old son died in 2012. At his memorial service, I had several kids come to me and tell me what a difference he made in their life. Whether they were being picked on and he stopped it or it was their first day at huge class 7a school and they were lost and he showed them the way.I really found out how many lives he affected with his love and kindness. As a parent, you do your best and hope it works. Most of the time, you never know fully if they got it. I was blessed to find out it did. I am truly blessed and honored to call him my son.
And pray for them too….If you were to witness my preschool son’s behavior on a crowded playground you would likely want to put him in a room with all the other children you would like to “flick in the head”. My son is diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and also comes with other labels you might have heard of such as high functioning autism or Asberger’s. He has a very a difficult time regulating his behaviors in busy environments such as a crowded playground or bustling restaurant. As a result, he will use unkind words or physically aggressive behavior, as his body is reacting to the sensory overstimulation in a “fight or flight” way. Does this make his behavior “ok” or acceptable, ABSOLUTELY NOT, does it break my heart, ABSOLUTELY YES- for him and the other children he hurts. I stay awake at night wondering if he will have friends in school, have girlfriends, or find a spouse. I sit in my parked car at preschool and sob after a teacher report about a “bad day”. We and other parents of children like mine, typically don’t go out in public much because of it. When he was 2 or 3 years old we could laugh it off with other parents of “neurotypical” children as typical toddler behavior. Now that he is five, the wild temper trantrums and aggressive behavior get us plenty of stares, dissaproving looks, and occassionally, very painful comments from adults and parents. We are working hard to help him…thousands of hours of occupational therapy instead of playdates, reading every book, blog, etc. I can find to help him instead of socializing with families, and above all PRAYING HARD, everyday for help. If you see us in public, he appears very much like a typical child – he is potty trained, he can communicate with words….once his SPD behaviors start it looks like either a really spoiled child or really bad parenting. I am trying, but sometimes wanting to put a bag over my head and retreat back home asap. As you are probably aware, my son represents a ever-increasing number of children on the autism spectrum. Does make it ok for our kids to be unkind to others, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Training them how to treat others and the developing a sense of empathy is not a straightforward path….it requires unimaginable patience and love, progress can be excruitingly slow.
You raise a very good point too, there are also children that are likely suffering from abuse , neglect, or constant, unrelenting critism from a parent(s). These children have never known love from their families, the way our children do. They likely firmly believe and act out the negative and mean messages they are constantly receiving at home. Pray for them too, and when possible, show them Christ-like forgiveness that only HE can grant us. An ernest attempt to be friend to lonely, isolated child migh
And pray for them too….If you were to witness my preschool son’s behavior on a crowded playground you would likely want to put him in a room with all the other children you would like to “flick in the head”. My son is diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and also comes with other labels you might have heard of such as high functioning autism or Asberger’s. He has a very a difficult time regulating his behaviors in busy environments such as a crowded playground or bustling restaurant. As a result, he will use unkind words or physically aggressive behavior, as his body is reacting to the sensory overstimulation in a “fight or flight” way. Does this make his behavior “ok” or acceptable, ABSOLUTELY NOT, does it break my heart, ABSOLUTELY YES- for him and the other children he hurts. I stay awake at night wondering if he will have friends in school, have girlfriends, or find a spouse. I sit in my parked car at preschool and sob after a teacher report about a “bad day”. We and other parents of children like mine, typically don’t go out in public much because of it. When he was 2 or 3 years old we could laugh it off with other parents of “neurotypical” children as typical toddler behavior. Now that he is five, the wild temper trantrums and aggressive behavior get us plenty of stares, dissaproving looks, and occassionally, very painful comments from adults and parents. We are working hard to help him…thousands of hours of occupational therapy instead of playdates, reading every book, blog, etc. I can find to help him instead of socializing with families, and above all PRAYING HARD, everyday for help. If you see us in public, he appears very much like a typical child – he is potty trained, he can communicate with words….once his SPD behaviors start it looks like either a really spoiled child or really bad parenting. I am trying, but sometimes wanting to put a bag over my head and retreat back home asap. As you are probably aware, my son represents a ever-increasing number of children on the autism spectrum. Does make it ok for our kids to be unkind to others, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Training them how to treat others and the developing a sense of empathy is not a straightforward path….it requires unimaginable patience and love, progress can be excruitingly slow.
You raise a very good point too, there are also children that are likely suffering from abuse , neglect, or constant, unrelenting critism from a parent(s). These children have never known love from their families, the way our children do. They likely firmly believe and act out the negative and mean messages they are constantly receiving at home. Pray for them too, and when possible, show them Christ-like forgiveness that only HE can grant us.
Please be sure to tell you children about these possible challenges “the mean kids” may be struggling with and emphasize their bad choices have very little to do with your son’s worth as a person.
Tears. Thank you for writing this. My son is only 2, but he’s a sensitive soul and I’ve already worried and prayed about how I would help him deal with mean kids one day. This was an answer to prayers. Pinning this for later because I want to be able to give him that same speech one day. Thank you!
I feel for you the first time my daughter was attcaked she wwas hit in the face. She was only one and had no way of telling me but i knew what happened after i saw the mark on her face. Her scream struck anger in me as it should but I looked at my baby and said as long as I am here I will not ever let someone hurt you like that again or get away with it. Because not only is it not good for my child to picked on its not good for the other to pick on others. So the next time it happened i told those kids to “Stop it and dont lie about her doing things she is not doing. Don’t hit each other or push either.” They were shocked i said anything and i haven’t had any problems sense. I watch her her always because she doesn’t understand that shes being bullied shes still too young to tell me. It just hurts me to see her be treated that way. I went through the same thing and no one stood up for me.
My mom found and shared this blog with me the morning after this EXACT incident happened with my son. Right down to the sport. I handled it the same way except the child was already gone so I spoke to the coach about it. Unfortunately the other difference in my situation was that the child used words that I’d like to believe my son had not been exposed to before. Nasty words and for no reason at all. My child just happened to walk past him directly after they’d lost their first game. My son didn’t even play much so certainly wasn’t the cause of the loss. This child was just mad and took it out on the next person that walked by. My son is a sweet boy. ALL BOY and a little ADD but sweet with a good heart and has accepted Christ so is trying to live a kind Christlike life with friends. Because of this he is often the target of mean kids. They know he will take it. I so appreciate your sharing this 1 for making be feel better about how I handled it but 2 so I know how to take this and use it as a teaching moment for my son. Thank you.
Thank you for that. I shared your words with my son who is also 12 and is struggling, even in a small school, with bullies. He has the kind that are blatant, and he has the kind I call friend bullies. He has a hard time with how to handle them, especially the “friend” ones. I try to tell him that if someone is hitting you, touching you, or saying mean things to you, even if they are your friend, that is being a bully. These years are so hard. I wish I could bottle confidence and give it to him for breakfast. If only they knew how special they are – every last one of them and would all band together to rise each other up instead of tearing down.
I pulled my daughter (Sara) out of a CHRISTIAN Academy in the 6th grade due to a set of 5 “mean girls”. We live in an Army town, and it was my daughters 1st day in a new school. I was thrilled to see the small town offered a private Christian Academy and just knew my daughter would thrive there. But on her very 1st day, a “mean girl” quoted the movie exactly.
Mean Girl: “Your eyes are so blue. Your hair is so blonde and curly. You are so beautiful!”
Sara: “Thank you very much.”
Mean Girl: “So you do actually think you are beautiful? So concieted!”
Later that day, Mean Girl tripped my child in the hallway, pretended to appologise and asked her to join herself and her “group” at lunch to make up for her mean quips. Then at lunch Mean Girl “accidently” spilled chocolate milk in my childs lap and stuck bubble gum in her long, blonde hair which had to be cut!
She tormented Sara for 3 more days, until Sara told me she wanted to be home schooled! I went to the school and spoke with the principal about the Mean Girl, and the principal informed me that the girl was the Pastors daughter and was “just very spirited” and I should not take it the wrong way.
I spoke to the pastors wife, and she told me my daughter should try not to be so “tender hearted”. Because her daughter only picked on her friends, so my child should be honored that Mean Girl took to her at all!!!
I pulled my child out of the school. I entered her into a small public school in a nearby small town, and she is thriving! She has made amazing friends she will keep for life. (She is a Senior now!) I am a Christian woman, but I have NEVER wanted to slap a grown woman as much as I wanted to hit Mean Girls Mother that day when she told me I should be glad her daughter was abusing mine! The rotten apple did not fall far from the tree!!! Sometimes it is indeed the parents fault. Kids mimic what they see and are simply a product of their environment. I raised all of my children to turn the other cheek, to forgive and forget, but this is not always the answer… I learned this the hard way. Sometimes, they need to defend themselves or turn to an adult who can help.
I was hoping you were making this story up. It just sounded too horrible. I’m so sorry this happened to your daughter. And I’m so glad she’s thriving in her new school. God bless you.
My 16 year old son was recently verbally attacked by the mother of a daughter that he knows. He had poked her in the ribs, (as boys do) and scared her while at school. He wasn’t picking on her; to the contrary, he was playing with her. He has often stood up to other kids who WERE picking on her or teasing her about her long “ginger” hair.
So this woman shows up to my house when she knew that neither I nor my husband would be home and lit into him about NEVER TOUCHING MY DAUGHTER AGAIN! My poor son had no idea what had happened. When she stormed off, he shut the door and went on with his day.
So when the “mama bear” in me heard this, I wanted to RIP HER HEAD OFF. This woman has serious issues, and took them out on my child. (Yeah, I get that he’s 16 – he’s not really a child anymore – but he is MY child.) What do you do when the bully is an adult? I look to Christ and imagine the woman caught in adultery and the men wanted to stone her and he drew in the dirt and said, “let him without sin cast the first stone”, and I don’t know what to say to this woman – if anything – to let her know that her behavior isn’t acceptable. I’ve instructed my son to avoid her daughter, (go thy way and sin no more?) but this woman is a member of my church congregation, I won’t attend another, and I’d love it if I just didn’t have to deal with her ever again.
Jill, I was abused as a young girl and at 16 if any boy no matter how nice he was or even if he was a friend, would have poked me in the ribs it would have upset me, ALOT! I’m not saying what the mother did was right, however you dont know how that affected this young lady! My advise is to sit down, you and the mom and find out what is going on. let her know that you understand her concern for her daughter but that coming to a childs home and confronting them with out the parents present is not exceptable! Hugs mama, I hope this has already been resolved!!
One thing I noticed you didn’t mention to your son is the possibility that the child may have been suffering from a mental illness. My son is nine years old and has been recently diagnosed with early onset bipolar mental illness. While we don’t condone him being mean or saying hurtful things to others, he often is fighting an illness that doesn’t allow him to realize how his words and actions may be hurtful to someone else. He is not in any way intentionally being mean. He is suffering and I can tell you as his mother, my heart breaks knowing that he does. How exactly do you tell your child to deal compassionately with them as I am sure you wouldn’t want him to be unintentionally cruel to someone like him, mistaking him for someone who is being mean.
Thank you for sharing about your son and his mental illness. That hits close to home with me for many reasons I cannot write about on my blog. So, my heart goes out to YOU.
No, I did not mention that possibility. I’m sure there are hundreds of reasons children can be mean or perceived as mean. My son was feeling terrible about himself, so I was just trying to illustrate that the reason kids are mean is usually not because of Elijah (and most definitely was not in this case, as the other boy was mocking my son relentlessly for complimenting other teammates on good plays.) I do want my son to deal with everyone compassionately. Absolutely. And I also want him to be able to tell someone to stop hurting him when that is happening, too.
Thank you so much for your input.
When my girls were little, we moved to a new state and neighborhood. They were 5, 6 and 9. The first couple of days, they came home crying from the bus stop because a 5th grade boy from the neighborhood was bullying them. Then next morning, I took them to the bus stop, I walked up to the bully and told him privately that if I heard any more bad reports about his behavior at the bus stop, I would go to the school and have him banned from riding the bus. That evening, he and his father showed up at my door, with the dad wanting to know what was going on. I calmly explained what he’d been doing and stated again that if his behavior continued, I would have him banned from riding the bus. His father apologized, and made him apologize, and there were no more issues at the bus stop. The next school year, I was teaching at that school and this boy made it a point to always greet me and was very respectful when he saw me in the neighborhood.
I know it doesn’t always resolve so easily. I had to deal with bullies in the classroom as well that sometimes just didn’t get it or didn’t care- but I tried to teach my own kids as well as those I work with at school that it is never ok to bully someone else. At least now it is being recognized for what it is, and not just ignored as “kids will be kids”. In that way, it’s progress.
I love this!! Thank you so much!!! All us moms need to stick together!!!
I could not have read this at a better time (divine intervention, maybe?). I had to contact my son’s school twice this week due to mean kids picking on him & making him feel like a fool in front of his peers. It has been happening for a while but this week we finally had enough. My husband and I wonder if our son isn’t an easy target because he is so nice and kind, and I hate that other 12 year old boys see that as a weakness. He was feeling quite down about it and my husband and I were trying to talk with him about how to verbally stick up for himself. We told him some of the same things you mentioned, especially about being loud when he rebukes the mean kid drawing attention to the fact that it is happening and about making sure he tells a trusted adult. When I read your post, I called him in to me and had him read what you said to your son. Thank you for helping me figure out how to talk to my son. You made a difference in his life today and mine.
Sandy, I’ve never read your blog, I just found it as a link on facebook. I just wanted to tell you that I think you are doing an absolutely awesome job, both with your child(ren) and this blog. Keep up the great work!
Thank you, Mark.
When my first started all day school in kindergarten bullying was my biggest concern. For a few weeks he was pretty vague about what was happening at recess until I really pinned him down. He said that he was spending his time behind a shed letting another child punch him so that child wouldn’t punch others. My heart felt like it fell out of my chest into my shoes. This other child had been in our home, had been best buds in preschool but I knew had a rough home life and some diagnosis. All I could muster was, “do you think he’s trying to be mean?” My precious 5 year old said, “no, I just think he doesn’t know how to control his body and he doesn’t know God.” The Holy Spirit absolutely covered my failed humanity to proceed logically asking, “did you tell an adult?” He answered, “No, I don’t want him to get in trouble.” I explained that the other adults only want what’s best for the other boy and to help him know how to be a nice friend and asked if my son wanted me to talk to the other boy’s mom. He said it’d be okay if we were in a meeting or something. The next day I called the principal sobbing who followed the situation as closely as I did from then on, thankfully. I trust that God will protect my children as they are ultimately His anyways. I just pray that I will be faithful in walking them through these trials. I pray the same for you and every other parent too. God bless.
This story breaks my heart.
ALWAYS advocate for your kids. Always. It’s not always going to make your or them popular, but God has entrusted me with these gifts. God honors, defends and protects me. He loves me and comforts me. If my heavenly father does this for me, shouldn’t I too do it for my children?
I have never posted a comment to an article before, but yours struck a chord with me. I actually had a similar experience this past summer with my son. Another child was consistently mean & rude to my son, who was just trying to fit in with some new kids on the baseball team. (My son attends the Catholic School in town. My husband and I try to get our kids involved in activities in order to meet more children.) After watching & listening to this child talk so rudely to my son, this momma bear had enough. I approached that child & told him he needed to stop treating my son that way. The kid apologized on two different occasions. From then on, he would talk to me after the games. And I hope I modeled positive behavior by engaging in conversations with him. Makes me wonder if anyone ever told this child that it is not “okay” to be mean to others?
Thank you for taking the time to respond. I feel so honored that I’m your “first.” 🙂
The days of “let them fight it out alone” are gone. Our kids are committing suicide or developing destructive eating disorders or even Cutting to get rid of pain, at an almost epidemic proportion because of bullies and parents that don’t know or do know and don’t intervene. There is a fine line between helping them and being the over bearing parent. I think what you did was a fair way to react, not perfect but as it has been stated here many times, we are not perfect. I personally think the best part of that whole lesson was when you sat your son down and had a heart to heart talk with him, that I think did more for him than anything else.
The bible says get angry and sin not, It does not say anger is bad….in other words anger is ok if you use it correctly and don’t let it become a source of sin.
Anger was given to us by God to alert us that a barrier has been crossed once we acknowledge that we need to then use it constructively to find a solution that does not create sin but also does not allow others to continue to cross the line.
I am reminded of a time when my daughter was young she lacked in the self esteem department and was a bit clumsy (like her mom) so we put her in a Tae kwon Do close, one that was run by a christian couple. They not only helped with the self esteem and balance but taught her that being able to defend yourself is good, knowing you can and then finding a way to not use force is even better. That same year she was on the school bus and got into a fight with a kid that was picking on another kid. Before it was over the other mean kid tried to choke her and she did exactly what she needed to do to break free and it ended there. Her instructor had to discipline her because she chose to fight instead of finding another way, which started it. But while she was walking out her discipline, behind her back he went “YES!” and smiled at me because she defended herself and stopped as soon as no further action was needed. I did have to take them off the school bus in the afternoons, as it was an hour long trip (we were in the country) and in the afternoon the kids were just too rowdy and wound up and the school bus drive did very little to intervene.
For the parents that are having an ongoing issue, you might want to consider some type of group or class that teaches the things my daughter’s Tae Kwon Do Master taught. Just knowing that they can defend themselves is often all they need to be confident enough to stop the bully verbally or refuse to play along and just walk away.
I agree the consequences of NOT intervening are too great. Thank you for your input.
I dont disagree with anything in the post in fact I think it shows a very Christian approach to dealing with the “mean kid”, but incomplete. In the story “mean kid” apologized twice, once when he was reproached for his sin because of guilt, and once later on his own because of contrition and repentance. I read through all the comments and replys. Megan used the phrase ” Grace given to the Mean Kid”. but unless I missed it, the words forgive and forgiveness are not used anywhere. We need to all remember that until we too are absolutely perfect (as in never) that we need to live the rule of Seventy times Seven (Matthew 18:21-22). I realize this post is about bullying which is completely unacceptable and not to be taken lightly but it also talks of teaching moments for children and it just seems to me that forgiveness is a critical part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is often forgotten in these moments.
You are correct. This story was never meant to be a full dissertation on bullying or the Christian Response or How to Raise Kids. It was one snippet of our lives, total time elapse, about 15 minutes (including the talk at the end). The next practice my son walked up to the boy and put his hand on his shoulder. They laughed about something together (I was watching from the other side of the court). Yesterday, my son told me his name and said, “He’s my friend now.” So, yeah…there is more to the story and my son most certainly forgave him.
Thank you for adding that.
I’m a first time reader and this article really hit home. I was one of those kids who was bullied in school when I was growing up. I was always one of, if not the, smallest boys in my class and I would always get picked on. It started out verbally and then escalated to physical when I got into middle and high school. I was too scared to tell anyone but my parents and when they tried to intervene, nothing was done (“Oh, it’s just boys being boys). In fact, when I was getting abused in high school PE class (I say abused because one of the boys would smack me with a towel in the dressing room and it was hard enough to leave red marks on my legs and sometime back) my parents reported it to the head football coach because he went to the same church as my family. His response? “We can’t do anything until we catch him in the act”. It got to the point where there were a few days my freshman year I faked being sick so I wouldn’t have to go school. Luckily, things got better after my freshman year because I started participating in sports, school clubs, etc.
Believe or not, as an adult I have been bullied by other adults. My dad’s business partner would verbally abuse me unmercifully and when my dad confronted him and told him to “lay off”, he said, “I’ll treat him any way I want too”. When I was a 9th grade coach at a local high school the head varsity football coach also verbally abused me. The head 9th grade coach tried to stand up for me but he was told by the head varsity coach, “This is my (expletive) program, I’ll do any (expletive) thing I want to, and I’ll treat him any (expletive) way I want too”. The most unbelievable person who bullied me was a church pastor. After my father died, all he could do was pick on me about not being married. He also picked on my mother, which if I would have found out about, I might have turned into a MOMMA GRIZZLY.
I am now working with children in both my church and in the schools (I’m a certified teacher with a Master’s in Education) and the one thing I will not put up with is bullying. I know what is like to be bullied and I don’t want any child to be exposed to the kind of things I had to face when I was growing up. I’m glad things have changed in the schools where I live in regards to bullying. In fact, most of the schools follow a certain kind of anti-bullying program where the kids are told that it is OK to tell an adult if a fellow student is being bullied. They are also told to stand up for anyone being picked on. If this had been in place when I had been in school I’m sure things would have been different (when it happened to me everyone around me ‘disappeared’ and I was left to fend for myself).
I’m glad you stepped in and took up for your son. My parents tried but didn’t get any results. Thanks again for the article and I hope everyone sees that bullying is a problem today and that steps need to be taken to control it.
Thanks for writing this article Sandy – it’s certainly prompted some lively comments, and given me some food for thought about how I can better help my kids when they are in similar situations (which I’m sure all kids are at some time or other)
I was at chuckEcheese last week with my 10yr old daughter. She came to me crying because a little girl took the tickets from her skee ball machine. I told her I would watch to make sure it didn’t happen again. Sure enough more tickets came out and a little girl walked over and snatched them. I am not a fan of confronting other kids, but if had no choice. I approached the little girl and said, “did you take her tickets?” She said no. I said I saw you take tickets from her machine. She again said “no I didn’t”. So I said, “where is your mom? I would like to talk to your mom.” She them reached in her cup and gave my daughter two tickets, she said “I only took two.” Enough said, I walked away. I am pretty sure that kid will not take anyone’s tickets anymore. Not a big deal, but sometimes we have to step in.
Thank you for this article. I was picked on when I was in school. I wish I’d had this article when I was young and when my children were growing up. Thank you for your insight. Good advice for adults who are also, ‘picked on’. God bless your ministry.
Thank you for sharing! It’s terrible this behavior is even seen in pre-schools. My son has been bullied in Christian schools in kindergarten and 1st grade. I was please how it was handled. Now he’s in a new school, and they are on top of the bullying and teaching the children daily about character.
My simple response to my son is hurting people hurt people and we pray for those children. We’ve seen the bully turn around and they are now become friends! Thank you GOD for answered prayer. We also read Jesus Calling each morning in the car as a reminder God is with us, and teaching my son to turn to God when he’s having a hard time with other people.
Thank you. Just this week my 8 year old son was bullied and threatened at school. Mama Bear was unleashed. He did the right thing reporting it to teacher and principal. Had a meeting with principal. It was addressed and “mean kid” got disciplined. My son was scared of retaliation. I was so proud of him for sticking up for himself. Then I have a step daughter that is a cheerleader. Which you know how kaddy cheerleaders are. Enough said there. The ugliness has to stop. They know they are is loved and have the support of their family. The Mama and Papa Bears need to stand up and support their children and teach them truly what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
My 13 year old son ran in the cross country meet. He was about lower middle of the pack crossing the line. (Not fast just a diligent runner) Our rivals (another middle school) had 3 talented runners-all made like top 5 out of 150 kids!). They approached him after race. One of them said, “Hey, what was your time.” My son said, “Well, not as good as yours. haha.” I walked up. Not sure if they were about to tease him or not but the next words saved them:) “What place did you get?” My son replied, “Ummm…like 80th or something. Not sure.” All three of them took turns encouraging him, with “Hey, man next time you will improve a lot, I bet.” (Other comments followed). I am a former teacher of the district where he goes to school so I made a bee line to the principal and told him how kind these 3 young men were (whether they did it because I was standing there-I do not know but I prefer to think they were just being good kids). He raised his eyebrow…are you sure? I gave him their numbers on the back of the jersey. He was kind of shocked. I picked up they might be trouble makers at school. But by the time Monday rolled around they had been called into the office and congratulated on sportsmanship. Then it got to the district officials. Next track meet-they sought out my kid again, encouraging him. I called or emailed again. Somehow they needed the praise-so I gave it. The next track meet I pulled them aside. I told all three of them, “This year has been hard on my son. I have stage 2 (now stage 4) cancer. Running track is just something he threw himself into to take his mind off of my illness. You hold great power in your words and I am so glad you used them to lift him up.” One of the boys got choked up. “We got his back.” Sometimes a little sugar goes a long way with the roughest of kids. Consequently, I have seen them here and there and they kind of seek out my son. Not friends but encouragers. I have a feeling they were not always this way. That is ok. I am just glad they used their power for good..not evil. Thank you for writing your post! Mean kids make me crazy!
I am so sorry about your cancer. Oh my. I will pray for you.
I have to add, this story is AWESOME! I love it. Not long ago, I slipped a note in my son’s lunch just telling him I hope he is having a great day. The kids at his table started making fun of him because his mommy put a note in his lunch (I only knew about it, because I found it crumbled up and asked why–he used to save every single note I wrote him and I was surprised to see it destroyed). Anyway, he told me that the kids started making fun of him but one kid at his table jumped in and said, “I think it’s cool your mom wrote you a note. I wish my mom would write me a note.” I immediately sent a text to his mom telling her thank you to her son for sticking up for Elijah. She texted back and said, “You’re welcome, except he didn’t really say it to stick up for Elijah–he really DOES want me to write him notes. I had no idea! I’m sticking one in his lunch now.” I thought that was cute.
My point: Yes, when kids encourage each other, it should be celebrated. Big.
What a beautiful story or love and encouragement. It made me cry. Many parents are so quick to point out bad behavior. Bravo to you for taking the time to draw attention to the kindness of those boys.
I will pray for you too.
My son was bullied mercilessly from grade school through middle school. I did not know how close he was to committing suicide. We switched schools the beginning of 9th grade to a Christian School and he blossomed. He also met the love of his life and they were married the year after graduation. They have been married 10 years and are expecting their 3rd child and he is studying to be a middle or high school teacher and to help kids who are being bullied. Not everyone can switch schools but we were fortunate that we could. Thanks, Sandy, for your wonderful comments.
Well done mom. We dont have to be afraid of our kids going to school and getting picked on. They will go through this their entire life. Especially Christians. Its not because they go to school and home schooling them wont protect them from bullies. I hear that fear a lot in parents with young kids. We have to do our job as parents and they will be okay.
I am the teacher in a tiny private Christian school. I have an 8th grader who tells her mom and aunt that she is bullied by another girl at church and youth group events. From my perspective, she is insecure and so possessive of another 8th grade girl’s friendship that she is jealous because the other girls are friends. I hear her make comments that remind the class of times when the other girl was embarrassed. She is bossy and gets upset at little things like whose turn it is to read and how long their turn is. I have talked to all 3 moms. All 3 girls told their parents that at times they wished they could go to school somewhere else because 2 of them were afraid of being bullied and the other was tired of the possessive girl trying to stop her from being friends with everyone.
During school hours they seem to get along. I have been aware of the situation for several months and have never seen the other two being unkind, exclusive, or mean to the one who thinks she is a victim. When I talk to her mother, she cries and tells me how much it hurts, and I believe her, but I see her child as the problem. I have tried to gently suggest that the mean things she says and her possessiveness are pushing the others away, and she always answers that she has text messages to prove it. I suggested she show the texts to the other parents.
We teach anti-bullying and the kids tell me they feel safe at school. We just had a formal evaluation, and they wrote on the student survey that they feel safe. Yet one of the girls was sick 2 days last week, but her aunt said it was because she is picked on by the other girls and couldn’t bear to be with them. I see them working together cooperatively. Am I blind? I have been trying to catch the others for several months. What else should I be doing?
Have you tried to get the 3 girls together? My daughter and her friends had a similar dynamic and I just could not figure out what was happening to make my daughter so upset. So, I invited all the girls and their moms to my house for a bible study. It was summer, so we met for 8 weeks. It broke down a lot of barriers and helped them bond. It also helped me observe first hand what was happening.
Girls this age are so hypersensitive. One wrong look and it’s “She hates me.” The hard part is, even if it’s just a perceived hate, it feels the same as real hate to the “victim.” So, either way, you have to deal with it.
I would either continue trying to get the girls to work through it or steer each of them toward new friendships.
Lydia gives a common point of view, but an example of erroneous reasoning. Ask yourself thus, if the house catches fire are you going to pick up your kids and escape, or are you going to tell them they need to figure out what to do? The author here gives a balanced perspective on when to act. She doesn’t endorse always jumping in but intelligently suggests ways to gracefully intervene. There are times when children need our help.
I LOVE this!!!! My daughter is 9 years kid and we had a similar mean kid incident. We were at a football game and a male classmate was chasing her, grabbing her feet to make her fall, then humping her. Yes that’s right! We are talking a 4th grade boy! Mdaughter came running to us crying. My husband tracked that kid down and gave him a good talking to! School officials of course did nothing! That boy always tells my daughter here dad his mean and scary. His mom rolled her eyes and said what can I do?! I’m going to be reading this to my kids. Thank you for sharing it!
Let’s look at this from a different point of view. Watch the video, the text at the end reads,
“A Day at work doesn’t look like this, why should a day at school?” Really powerful to see it this way….
I don’t understand people thinking it’s wrong to intervene, wouldn’t you do it if you worked at the office where this guy in the ad works??? And he is an ADULT!!! Wake up people, we have to intervene, to protect our children from being treated poorly and also to let “mean kids” know their behavior is wrong and intolerable, since apparently they do NOT know that or they wouldn’t be behaving that way. And as long as it’s done respectfully, it can be considered constructive criticism, afterall the goal is not to BECOME a bully yourself. Adults who behave the way some “mean kids” do, go to jail. If that’s where you want your child to end up, by all means, don’t teach them it’s wrong to disrespect other people. Minimize the damage every time they behave poorly. Don’t talk to them about dignity,either their own, or that of others. That’s a surefire way to get them into trouble as an adult, a time when the bully behavior they practiced as a child will now how consequences for them, like jail time, or being fired from a job. Please try to understand, it’s not acceptable to let your child ever degrade another human being. If they don’t learn now, and you as a parent don’t teach them, the judicial system will have to.
Just wanted to say how much I loved this article. It made me laugh..and tear up a bit. Like all moms, I related. I’ve had the same conversation multiple times, for I have found that it’s needed multple times. Remind her. We call it morning devotional. Morning prayer, a quick scripture and a a mini pep talk. We got to arm our little ones with HIS armour!
P.s we should start a p90 kick your kids butt support group
Thank you for sharing this. I really needed to read this. My 7 year old comes home often and says “nobody likes me and they are mean”. I’ve explained to her many times that it is not her. She is a very sweet child, loves to take care of people and wants to be friends with everybody. She gets that not everybody is nice and sometimes they just don’t know any better, but the initial meanness still bothers her. I will also be reading this to her so she knows that she is not the only one that gets picked on.
One thing I have told her to do is, if a child is mean to her or tries to get her to do something wrong to not do it no matter what the other child says. Then wait, if possible, to go talk with the teacher about it, maybe during recess. This way the child does see my daughter telling on her and it puts it on the teacher to be the “mean”one. So far this tactic has worked well for her.
Thanks again for sharing.
Much wisdom and light gained when we testify of the Goodness of Christ together and follow his teachings. We each have so much to offer each other through our personal experiences. Love it! I have found some of the best advice and inspiration and guidance – to lift your souls,
and inspire our hearts on a website called lds.org and also themormonchannel. We are all children of God, and he loves us each so dearly.
I LOVE THIS STORY! People need to hear more stories like these! It made me cry! (infact ball) Everyone needs a mother like that! THAT’S THE WAY MOTHER’S SHOULD BE! GOD IS GOOD!! <3
You had many great things to say in this blog post. Many readers have great things to say.
But like a few of your readers, I too am concerned over the opening statements: “I hate mean kids. I do. I hate them.” Yes, you did preface it by saying that it is not very Christiany. But that doesn’t justify your choice of words.
Many people (Christians included) rationalize that they have a right to say what they want to say, and fail to consider what effect their words will have.
Unfortunately, Christians are all too often regarded as haters. How I wish that were not so!
Thank you for stating your opinion with kindness and respect.
I understand why you’d have a problem with the opening statement. It’s harsh. I know. And I absolutely cringe to think someone would associate me with being a Hater. You are dead-on…they should identify us by our love.
Believe it or not, I chose those words on purpose. As a writer (even as a Christian writer) I try to capture and articulate reality as I see it. I am trying to convey a deep, visceral emotion that emerges when a mother sees her child repeatedly hurt by another child.
That emotion is hate.
I don’t see it as “I have a right to say whatever I want to say.” That’s not it at all. I believe our words have the power of life and death. I have been blogging for many years and I have been extremely deliberate about my choice of words from day one, knowing full well the weight of the responsibility of this ministry .
I chose the word “hate” because it IS such a strong word. And I qualify it all over the place because while it so accurately conveys a mother’s feelings, it’s also not how Jesus would feel about the Mean Kid.
Not justifying the feeling, just describing it.
Sandy, I think there is a difference between saying, “I hate you” and something like, “Feelings of hatred rise up within me when…..” By saying the latter, you are not stating that you hate someone, which like you said, Jesus would never do. And surely He does not approve of us hating people.
I do find it hard to believe that you purposely chose the harsh verbage. I totally understand and appreciate your wanting to be transparent and real, but I still feel that choices of words like you used do a lot to harm our Christian witness. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” John 13:35
I want to be your friend.
Thank u thank u thank u. My 7 year old daughter was the only girl on the bsketball court yesterday. Parents from the other team told their sons “stay on #5, you can get the ball” we are not allowed to yell at the refs during the games or we will be kicked out for the rest of the season. My daughter tried to throw a ball in. The other team didnt give her any space to do it. The other coaches didnt correct them. The refs didnt correct them. My daughter was helpless. She kept looking at the ref for help. MAMMA BEAR CAME OUT. I jumped up, screamed this is ridiculous and walked out of the gym, afraid I would be kicked out. Then I slammed a door. I wish I had read this before her game. I told my daughter after the game that I was ashamed at how I acted. I shouldnt have yelled. It didnt solve anything. It made things worse. I am going to read this entire post with her so she sees how I should have handled the situation. I should have talked calmly to the ref after the game. I have learned a lesson. You are never too old to learn a better way.
I agree with the author; especially with younger kids. If I’m there and see kids behaving badly, I ought to speak up- in the approximately the same manner the teacher would. I can’t punish or discipline another kid, but I can say ‘quit it,’ and remind them that they wouldn’t act like that if front of their own parent or teacher. And if they smart back- I have no problem giving them the full adult look of scorn- because at that point- there IS something wrong with that kid in my opinion if they are caught bullying without shame. But I am fortunately that my children have not been targets, other than the routine ups and downs of grade school. No kids ever feels truly popular, but mine seem OK, and are kind. We are lucky- I believe a lot of character is inborn, not all of it learned.
However, I do think it is important for my kids- especially my daughter- to learn that there are some people who are simply not going to like her. No matter what. And that there is absolutely nothing she can do about it, no matter how smart, beautiful and sweet she is, and that is OK. I’ve spend too much time in my life worrying about whether people like me, and trying to please everyone, that it’s hindered my career and caused undue stress. I hope to give her the gift of not worrying about the occasional mean woman.
I saw your article the other day, and just finished reading it to my 11 yr old son and my husband. Thank you so much for sharing your story! You never know what to say, we have even tried to befriend kids, and it has worked for a little while, but ultimately it was best for us to just avoid them. We think that our children can handle it themselves, but you are exactly right about empowering them to understand that the mean kid has problems and go tell an adult. Then say something, like “stop it” to them when they have the confidence. I will certainly be sharing your words! Thanks again, Alyce
I read this article and thought how I would have and have handled the situation in the very same way. Teaching our children/grand children that if they will take a moment to think b4 they speak and remember to try and not say something to someone they would not want said to them, perhaps we can help just a bit in this crazy world. I’m almost 60 and I thought it was tough when I raised my daughter in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s nothing like today in a world where so many parents (not all) set there children in front of Xbox’s Play Stations etc. don’t make them go out and play (granted due to the internet and other social media) it needs to be in the yard or someone else’s where they can be checked on frequently) due to the boldness and sickness of the predators of today! With hardships and drugs so rampant no one is really safe against these desperate deviants. I know that sounds harsh but it’s a reality. When you can’t allow an 11 yr. old to ride a bike by there selves in your own subdivision in a rural community it’s sad! It is what it is and the best we can due is teach them to trust in God and to be aware at all times. Never no matter what walk up to a car and scream fire and run if someone approaches them. Teaching them to stand up for there selves and friends and even other children if they see them being bullied or pushed around can sometimes stop what could have been a terrible situation . There is power in numbers. Always tell because you won’t be a tattle tale, you might just save someone’s life. Be real blunt and honest with them. Assure them they will not be in trouble and they will be respected for having helped. I have found in most cases the children that bully are usually the one’s who are ignored, abused, and been left to fend for there selves and they do not have the social skills to make friends and really if people got to know them and reach out there is always the hope that some can be reached. We must pray for them and again take the time to listen and care and watch what they see and hear because in todays world there is no telling at a very early age what they will be exposed to. I have found that explaining it’s ok to get upset because life is not always fair and there’s a lot of meanness out there. The key is when they get upset if they know the boundaries and they know how to release it without harming there selves or others they can release the frustration and then let it go and figure out a solution. Holding it in leads to so much anger and acting out or even suicide in some cases. My final thought is teaching coping skills at a very early age is key and with God all things are possible!
As a teacher, this is near and dear to my heart. We constantly drive home the idea that bystanders can completely change a negative situation. We are always on the look-out for a student who is being picked on. We try to empower the nice kids to bring more nice kids to the ‘good side’. We teach that building up is much better than breaking down.
However, I’d like to put this into perspective for adults, as we are guilty of standing by all too often. Think of the last time you saw an adult putting down another adult. It didn’t have to be an all-out rage session, perhaps just those negative little comments that eat away at resolve and confidence. Did you step up? Did you put your arm around that person’s shoulders and tell them you’re on their side? Did you go tell the Mean Adult to stop?
We work so hard to instill this power in children. To make sure they know they can be the nice kid. The kid who makes a difference. But have we ever actually thought how difficult that is? It seems so simple, and yet the act we expect of children is actually quite difficult.
In the coffee room and hear someone gossiping about someone else? Hear a coworker berating someone about a mistake? Witness someone in a beauty salon mutter a racist comment? Did you say something? Did you stand up for the bullied? Did you tell the bully to stop?
THIS is what we are asking children to do. It’s not any easier because they are kids. In fact, it’s a lot harder. They are less secure in who they are. They look more for the acceptance of those around them. They see life far more black and white, but have less tools to help them navigate situations. And yet, we expect kids to step up in pressure-filled circumstances. To be ‘the good guy.’ To be the change in someone’s life.
This is all good. I will always stand behind equipping kids to navigate a life with Mean People so that they come out on top and can help others do the same thing.
But I would ask you… do you do what you are teaching your children to do?
Gosh…I sure HOPE I model this behavior. I definitely think I do. 🙂 How unfair of me to expect this of my children and then not live it out myself. Good point.
Thank you for your comments on bullying. My granddaughter comes home most days with a story of how she has been treated by some of her classmates. I have practically run out of advice for her. This article has come at the best time. God bless you for sharing.
Thank you so much. My son is in 1st grade. There is a Mean Kid in his class. They are both 7. Recently Mean Kid hit my son in PE. my son told a teacher and Mean Kid was disciplined. When I got home I had 3 messages from another parent urging me to have this 7 year old child put in alternative school. This parent was encouraging me to call the school board and demand that this child, who is not my child, in an alternative school so he wouldn’t hurt her son. It isn’t my place to put another persons child anywhere. Even going so far to say that administrators at the school were encouraging parents to call the board. And is this parent going to demand that a child be placed in alternative school every time someone looks sideways at her son? My request to my son was to teach this little boy how to be a friend. Maybe no one has ever shown him how to be a friend. I told my son to never allow the boy to hit, push etc, only to show him how to be kind to people. The boy is 7. He is still learning and his parents are either ill-equipped to help him or don’t care too. My job is to teach MY son how to be a productive member of society and how to handle people-not to handle other peoples children so not to hurt my child. I appreciate the honesty with which this blog is written:)
I think its good that we are all talking about bullying, its sad we have to, my parents decided when I was going into middle school that my sister and I should go to a different school, my sister was getting into a bad group, and was getting in trouble, so we switched schools!! I was out of place, farmers daughter trying to fit in with the city kids, it was very hard, I don’t blame my parents or my sister, but I finnaly asked my parents if I could go back to my old school, and I did!! life was much better, I always taught my kids to watch out for kids who need a friend, because that was me, many years ago. my son and his best friend stood up in class and escorted out 2 trouble makers in class who were making fun of a girl. they took them to the principals office. later that day I got a call from my sons football coach telling me what the boys did, and how he used them for an example at practice. he said that’s how he wanted all his players to act, to help those in need and to always be the bigger person, a few more times when he was in school I heard this kind of thing. and I felt very blessed, sometimes we as parents have great examples to use for our kids, they do listen, something good came from me having been bullied,, my son stood up when he saw something bad happening and he chose to stop it from continuing, and he helped that little girl.
I love the way that you worded this. I have two 6-year-olds and have been teaching them these concepts since day 1. Even as toddlers I teach my children to look into the eyes of the Mean Kid and say “Don’t do that. I don’t like that.” I feel they have a responsibility to themselves and others to address the behavior head on. My son is autistic and his sister will often stand up for him when he is being teased. She tells them, directly, that their behavior is inappropriate and mean. Fortunately, after being addressed, my kids often leave the ordeal with a new friend. They are young enough that the Mean Kid is so shocked at being kindly and firmly confronted that they decide my kid might be someone fun to play with. I pray that it continues to work so beautifully.
I have been raising kids now for 44 straight years without a break…natural plus blended then adopted several…i am now raising a grandchild. I have taught them to ALWAYS use this line to deal with mean kids. ” Jesus loves you and so do I” Whenever you use the name of Jesus it diffuses you and Satan cannot abide where Jesus very name is being spoken. My kids didn’t always agree but when they started using it, it did diffuse the pain for them because they were sharing the love of Christ!! How can that ever be the wrong thing to do. When my teenagers would act out, I used it to diffuse my own anger and it worked on both of us. Strangely it never gets old….calling on Jesus…my thoughts….Christ is never the wrong answer….
Absolutely beautifully said!!!!
This post kind of hurt my heart a little to read. I totally understand where you are coming from but it really hurt when you said that you HATE mean kids and all the other people agreeing with you just make it worse. My son will likely be one of these mean kids. He spits on people and hits. I am doing my very best to teach him properly. He is being raised in a Christ centered home with two very loving parents. We take time with him regularly and are consistent with discipline but he has autism and nothing we do seems to help much with his behavior. I know you probably didn’t mean that you hate my son but it felt like you did. And it is more some of the comments than it is the post. I am tired of people acting like it is my parenting that has made him this way. Random people come up to me all the time and tell me I need to get him under control. Believe me, I have tried. So I just wanted to note, mainly for the commentators, that sometimes no matter what you do as a parent your kid is STILL “mean” and unruly.
I read your comment after I posted and I think I know exactly where you’re coming from. Yes, we have one of “those kids” too. I pray that it gets better for your son and for you as you try to teach him. Sometimes it takes years for these things to sink in when a kiddo has special needs. I have several friends whose kids are on the spectrum. All of their issues are quite different from each other. I don’t think there could be anything harder than walking in your shoes. I have walked some of that path myself, and only now in 6th grade have we been able to get any help at school for our son. He is in an emotional support program. But he still gets teased by the other kids for being in special classes. He hates being thought of as different. He hates other kids knowing that he is in ES. I hope that things will improve for yr son and that others will be more understanding of him. Our 9yo son has actually been the brunt of his big brother’s bullying far too many times. But God has used these things in our 9yo’s life too. He has reached out to a boy at our church with autism and they have become buddies. Sometimes I’m convinced that it only takes one special friend to make a difference for someone. Perhaps there is someone who will be that for yr son. Blessings.
To both Brit and Debbie, I do agree with all the different behavioral and mental illnesses that are coming to our knowledge these days, that we need to try and find out why our children do what they do. I loved watching Fred C