Bullying: when your child may be the perpetrator.

by Jennifer Dyer

At a recent get-together with some friends, some of our kids had an issue. Not a stick-someone’s-head-in-the-toilet-and-post-it-on-YouTube issue, but a little disagreement that left some kids in tears, some in trouble, and most of the adults in confusion. The reasons weren’t important, but I was impressed by the way one mom used the issue to build character in her child.

As we all know, there are multiple sides to every issue. Once the moms got down to the bottom, we realized that some inappropriate “bossiness” had occurred on several sides (which is a huge shock for those of you with tween girls…).

In the aftermath, the mom of one of the involved girls modeled some excellent parenting. She didn’t deny her child’s part in the issue, nor make excuses for the behavior. She didn’t fight with the other moms about it, and she didn’t blame the other kids. She pulled her child aside and spoke to her quietly, so that no one else even noticed. The child was grounded for the incident, but her mother also conveyed to her that it wasn’t necessary to always be the one who is right, nor is it necessary to be the one in control. They had a long dialog about how to treat others and how to interact when disagreements occur.

The mother did not allow her child to toss blame around, either. Instead, she helped her daughter understand how her actions affected others. Later, I saw the girl quietly go to others and apologize, even to some adults.

As this group of kids consists almost entirely of first born children, there are some strong personalities. I had several discussions with my own child about her part in the incident. I conveyed my desire for her to get along with others and how to handle conflict with kindness. We also discussed people’s reactions and how those affected everyone else. We brainstormed ways to react the next time a disagreement occurred. She also owned up to her part, for which I praised her.

As moms, we hope that these little steps toward building character in our children will help them as they prepare for the tumultuous teen years.

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