Every child/family will experience it at one point or another: a bully. Bullies are rude, inconsiderate, and hurtful. I recently had a first-hand experience regarding this with my daughter at the park recently. We are a transracial family, and an older girl (elementary age) approached my daughter and asked her why she looked “different.” She then started to tease my daughter and laughed at her.
It didn’t really affect my daughter. She just kept playing because she is only 4 years old, but it affected me. How will my daughter respond to bullying and teasing, if that happens, as she gets older? How am I going to respond and how do I teach her to respond? There are too many horror stories of children committing suicide because of bullying resulting in low self-esteem.
Here are some of my thoughts:
Educate your child.
Even when they are young, as like my daughter, you need to start having THE conversation (no, not the “where do babies come from” conversation). You need to assure them that everybody is different from each other and differences are good, not bad. Yes, mommy and daddy do look different than you, but that is okay. It is important that they know bullying is not okay and it is okay to tell an adult about it. A bully is usually someone who is just looking for attention and will try to put others down to get that attention.
Know when and when not to step in for your child.
I try not to be a “helicopter” parent, but do have a hard time letting go. I do know that as my daughter gets older, I will not be with her all of the time and will have to relinquish some of my control. She will be without me at school, at dance class, and on playdates. I am trying to “find the line” and determine when to step in and say something or determine when to stay out of it and let her handle it. Growing up warrants independence, even if I want to rotor in.
Train yourself and your child on “go-to” responses.
Role playing is always an effective training tool; do age-appropriate scenarios, teach her how to respond/react to bullying. Play out scenarios with your child/children at home in a safe environment. Play out appropriate responses to a bully and then teach them to walk away Stress to them that if they ever feel threatened to share the bullying experience with a teacher/parent or whoever they are comfortable with talking.
What experiences do you have with adoption bullies and how did you deal with them?