girl punchingKaylyn did it! She told the boy that her mom gave her permission to punch him in the stomach if he kicked her again. First he told her that her mom was mean (I take that as a compliment). Then he kicked her. So…dear, sweet, no-longer-a-wounded-deer Kaylyn hauled off and punched him as hard as she could in the stomach. Do you know what happened? He quit kicking her. Now he just gives her dirty looks in the hallway, but he doesn’t bully her anymore. I asked Kaylyn how she felt, and she said, “triumphant.” I am so proud of her for protecting herself. This is a huge turning point for her.

Now if we could only teach her to stand up to the girls that bully her.

Girls are different. They don’t usually kick. They manipulate, threatening not to be her friend anymore if she doesn’t get a Facebook account, or they spend four days not talking to her because they’re mad at her that she doesn’t have a cell phone and they can’t text her the way they want. Of course, they don’t tell her why they’re mad at her for those four days; they just let her dangle and wonder why they hate her. One girl makes mean faces at her. Kaylyn lets it all drive her crazy.

I told her that because they weren’t disrespecting her body, she couldn’t use her body to fight back. For girl bullying, I’m teaching her to use humor. It’s a lot like “parenting with pizzazz” but for junior high peers. So we role-played the girl making mean faces at her. Kaylyn pretended she was the bully, and I, as Kaylyn, responded.  “Wow, so-and-so, that is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen you (said with a big smile). You should make that face more often. I wonder if I could look as beautiful as you do. Here, watch, is this it? (imitate the mean face) Is that right? Do I look as good as you do?” I told Kaylyn that once she has fun with the mean face, it takes all the bully’s fun out of it.

The sad thing is that Kaylyn has let these girls use and abuse her for a long time. She keeps forgiving them as she calls it. I tried to explain that forgiving means she doesn’t hold anger in her heart against them, it doesn’t mean she volunteers for more abuse. Today she came home from school so upset because without letting the bullies use her as their target, she has no one to talk to at lunch. She feels so lonely.

I told her this was a turning point for her in her life. She can go back to the bullies just so she doesn’t have to feel lonely, and then she has girls clogging up her life who mistreat her. Or she can refuse to be mistreated and be lonely at lunch (I told her she can come home and eat with me if she wants) until nicer girls fill the space around her. Kaylyn is a unique mix of wounded deer and highly polished steel. Just like she punched that kid that kept kicking her, I have faith in her that she can stand the loneliness until her new self-respect attracts friends who treat her with respect. I told her I’m here for her while she waits it out.

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