TRAINING: Say goodbye to bullies! Part 2

Matt walks into a room at the beginning of school. His head is tilted downward a little, he glances sideways to find a seat. If he makes eye contact with anyone, he immediately averts his gaze, looking somewhere else for a seat. He chooses a seat that he thinks is safe, and if possible, isolated. When he sits down, he keeps his gaze and posture forward, trying to size up the others in the room without them knowing it.

Jeff walks into a room at the beginning of school. His head is up, his eyes looking directly at the other people in the room. He pauses and sizes up the room, chooses a seat and heads directly toward it. On the way he speaks to one or two others with a smiling “Hey” or “Hi.” He sits, turns in his chair and introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Jeff. What’s your name?”

Which one of these two will become a target? What message is Matt sending? Matt thinks and acts like a victim; in essence, he is asking for it. Probably, before he leaves school that first day, he will get what he expects. He tries to get out as quickly as possible and leaves his reading book under his chair. Someone notices, “Hey, Mouse, you forgot your book.” Two or three others laugh. He blushes, goes back to get his book, grabs it, and hightails it out of the room keeping his eyes down. He goes home with a nickname and thinking that everybody made fun of him.

If Jeff forgets his book, someone will say, “Hey, Jeff, you forgot your book.” Jeff will say, “Hey, thanks. Wait for me.” He will get his book and walk out with his new friends.

Which one of these two boys was bullied? Neither one. Each one of them built the perceptions of others by their own actions.

Let’s back up five years to the beginning of kindergarten.

Matt and his mom walk into school for the very first time. They are both nervous. Matt is clinging to his mother’s skirt as she walks up to introduce him to the teacher. Matt hides behind his mom. His mother says, “This is Matt. He is very shy. He always does this. Do you think he will be okay? Are the other children kind? Please let me know if he needs me at all. Should I stay nearby?” The teacher takes Matt by the hand and Matt cries. Mom hesitates. “He’ll be fine,” the teacher says. Mom walks a few steps and turns to look at Matt, fighting back her own tears, “Mommy will be back very soon.”

Jeff and his mom walk into kindergarten for the very first time. They are both nervous. Jeff is clinging to his mother’s skirt as she walks up to introduce him to the teacher. Jeff hides behind his mom. His mother says, “This is Jeff. He is a little shy today, but he will be fine. He is learning to be brave.” She kisses him on the forehead; he tries to cling, but she gently and firmly takes his hand and places it in the teacher’s hand. “Be brave,” she says. The teacher takes Jeff by the hand and Jeff cries. Mom smiles, turns and walks out of the room without looking back. When she gets to her car, she cries.

Our kids take their cues from us. They learn from us. Matt needs retraining. Basic social skills can be learned. They are best learned and practiced before getting into a situation. If we as parents know that a particular situation is coming, we can prepare our kids to be brave. They will gain confidence in you and they will gain confidence in themselves. A few moments ahead of time can reap great dividends.

Knowing that difficulty was coming, Jesus prepared his disciples by telling them ahead of time. John 14: 29 “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”
Ahead of time, remind your kids to do these things:

Look people in the eye
Smile
Speak first
Give them your name
Ask their name (use it)

 

Take the target off your kid’s back and the bully may never show up.

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