I’m thinking back a few decades (okay–more than a few) to how my parents advised my siblings and me to handle bullies. My dad, probably the kindest and most loving man I’ll ever know, said, “Don’t pay any attention. He’s just playing with you.” My mom, equally loving but infinitely more practical, knew that strategy wouldn’t work with the tough kids in our neighborhood. She insisted we stand up to anybody who was “messing with us.” My mom loved us fiercely and didn’t want to see us beaten or bullied by anyone. She taught us to fend off bullying in the best way she knew how. Today, her warning to my brothers and sisters and me would be frowned on by many. “You’d better hit her (or him) back. If you just stand there and get beaten up, you’ll get a worse beating when you get home.”
Needless to say, my siblings and I learned to fight back physically and verbally–even if we didn’t always win. As a result, we got picked on a lot less than the timid kids who wouldn’t resist. But, in today’s world, it’s even more important that we teach kids non-violent ways to stand up for themselves. There are many community resources to help. There’s also online help, including one of my favorite websites: http://www.kidpower.org.
I’d love to hear how you coped with childhood bullying or maybe you could share with us your favorite resource on this topic.