BUILDING FROM BULLYING

On March 20th bloggers from all over the world will be blogging under the topic BUILDING FROM BULLYING with the hashtag #1000Speak.  We as a community understand the damage that occurs to both those who are bullied and the bully themselves and we want to make a difference.

OUR WORDS MATTER! 

We share our experiences and our ideas in the hopes that we might:

1 – Help someone feel less alone.

2 – Cause someone to seek help if they need it.

3 –  Persuade an abuser to re-evaluate their actions.

4 – Encourage everyone to watch and listen for opportunities to help.

I hope if you are reading this you will join us.  If you need a place to post a story then visit HERE.  You can also join the other bloggers on FB HERE.

If you are a parent or guardian I really think the best thing you can do is have regular conversations with your child.  Don’t wait until something big happens make it a daily habit.  If you are both in the car then talk instead of listening to music.  At night before bed carve out at least 30 minutes to talk not including the bed time story.  Talk about important things.  The more you talk the more likely they will be to feel comfortable telling you everything.

They NEED to know YOU are THEIR person!

My guest today, Roshni who blogs at Indian American Mom, understands the value of communicating with her child.  I wish all children could be so lucky!

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 BUILDING FROM BULLYING by Roshni

Bullying is something that has always been in the forefront of my mind. Whether it is boys or girls, the whole idea of another person or a group of kids ganging up against a helpless individual is something that raises my hackles!

I have previously hosted Rachna to share her sage experience of helping one’s own kids get the tools to handle bullying, and I also dwelt on how some girls and women distinguish themselves in meanness. Today, I’m thinking about my own experiences and my son’s to figure out ways in which to combat bullying.

Drawing from my own experiences

I was a terribly shy kid, one who hated the idea of drawing attention to herself. I used to try to physically make myself smaller by hunching up, I looked down most of the time, I muttered a response when someone asked me a question, and I took a lot of time to make friends and just act normally.

I was a prime target for bullies!

Building from Bullying - Indian American Mom

First of all, unwittingly, by virtually twisting myself into knots every time anyone looked at me, I pretty much made sure that people did stop and stare! I realized that the first thing to do in order to remain unnoticeable, was to behave normally by assuming a normal posture, and talking clearly so that people wouldn’t ask me to repeat myself.

Second of all, I needed to act confident. Note that I said act, because I was quite the opposite of confident. But, bullies love to pick on someone whom they perceive as meek. I learned to keep my head held high, to speak up, to walk with purpose, and to look people in the eye.

Third of all, I learned not to care so much about what other people thought! If anyone teased me about my appearance or my dorkiness, I accepted it with something close to equanimity, at least at face value, even though I was shriveling inside.

I also found the value of having friends to defend me. Even though I still needed to stand up for myself, I did appreciate when another girl suddenly spoke up for me and rebuked someone who had been verbally torturing me for sometime. It gave me the push to add my voice too and challenge my bully!

Most importantly, I slowly learned to appreciate myself. I learned to love myself for whoever I was. I had so desperately wanted to change, to be cool, to be able to flirt easily with boys, to crack jokes and make people laugh, to be singled out as a leader in class; I wanted those characteristics but I slowly realized that I really wouldn’t be comfortable being that person! So, I learned to let go and to accept me.

Supporting my son

Having had these experiences myself made me deeply empathetic and nervous about my son. Big A, my elder son who is now 11, had his share of being taunted and bullied. He has a nerdy personality, he wears glasses and has a gangly build. I expected him to encounter bullies at some point of time.

He and I had many chats about what to do about bullying and even though I always encouraged him to take support from his teachers and report the bully if he found it intolerable, I am aware that often kids have to manage on their own.

Building from Bullying - Indian American Mom

Most school bullying takes place in the playground and though teachers are present, it is physically impossible to keep tabs on every kid. An incident could take place in a split second and, even if the child reports it, it is sometimes difficult for the teacher to gauge a real issue versus someone complaining with little merit. Many times, children feel awkward getting help and I know that many kids turn against a person who makes a formal complaint against any peer.

His worst encounter with bullying took place at a summer camp, where he was targeted by a group of kids with a ringleader who took an instant dislike to my son. The whole group would whisper taunts at Big A whenever they could. Any complaint made to the teacher overseeing the activity would result in a casual, “knock it off, guys!” and wasn’t taken seriously at all. Big A does have a sensitive nature and I encouraged him not to take anything they said to heart.

I didn’t want to step in immediately, but I did reassure him that I would go with him and make a formal complaint, if needed. I could tell that he was wavering between wanting help and wanting to be independent and deal with the issue himself. I kept encouraging him to let me know what was going on and how to deal with it.

Things came to a head during a field trip when these boys actually started physically bullying Big A, by ‘accidentally’ running into him, digging him in the ribs with their elbow and tripping him up. When he told me about it, I was screaming inside but externally I calmly and firmly told him that it was now time to act.

He decided to go to the person-in-charge of the camp and formally complain. I asked him if I could come along but he insisted that he could do this by himself. We rehearsed what would be said so that it didn’t seem like he was merely causing trouble, and that it would be taken seriously.

I was at tenterhooks the whole day and come afternoon when I went to pick him up, I anxiously scanned his expression when he came out. All was well; Big A told me that the lady in charge called in the other boys and everyone had a full discussion about bullying and its consequences. The other boys were made to apologize and promise to refrain from targeting Big A or anyone else. After leaving the room, the ringleader actually turned to Big A, apologized again and shook his hand!

I was so proud of my boy that day for having the confidence in himself to deal with this issue by himself. Without bragging, I do know that his knowing that he could talk to me and get my wholehearted support also played into that; and that is something that I have always encouraged in my blog and I advocate again!

Talk to your kids and listen to them! Every little bit that they wish to share. Who knows, they may be deriving immense comfort and strength through that!

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Talk to your kids about bullying! Every little bit helps!

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Roshni Profile pic
Roshni was born and brought up in Calcutta, India. She met her husband while they were doing their PhDs and the two set off for the sunny shores of California soon after. She has two rambunctious, mouthy boys who fight during the day, but then whisper and giggle with each other at night long after she’s told them to “go to sleep already!!” She blogs about her Indian American life, and pretty much any other topic, at Indian American Mom. Even though she keeps swearing off social media, you can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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54 thoughts on “BUILDING FROM BULLYING

  1. Pingback: My personal experiences with bullying - Indian American Mom

  2. Talk to your kids and listen – one of the most important tools to combat bullying and a whole slew of other childhood and teenage issues. Communication is so very important. That home connection breeds confidence, and like you show here, confidence in oneself is crucial when standing up to bullying. Great post, Roshni!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, how proud you must be of your son! That takes guts and he handled it perfectly! And you should absolutely brag. To me THE most important thing with my children is having the kind of relationship where they can feel comfortable enough to come and talk to me about anything. What a wonderful mother you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So awesome… keep bullying in the public eye… that is what makes people change… when we forget about things they never change. Racism and sexism never would have reached the point where there is at least some improvement until it was just constantly on the news and in the headlines. Eventually, public pressure forces forward movement on issues.

    Liked by 1 person

      • There are just so many issues and causes that this one slips down the list unless you are a victim of it yourself or know someone who is… sort of like tuna fish sandwiches rarely make my list of food to order at a restaurant. I like tuna fish sandwiches, but there is always something more eye-catching on the menu.
        But people forget that bullying is a training ground for real evil. What were the Nazis or the KKK except for adult bullies who were never forced to come to grips with their desire to force their beliefs and cruelty onto others. Most of the great misdeeds of human history were perpetrated by either bullies or people who were bullied to the point that their minds snapped. I bet Adolf Hitler was bullied in school.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I recently heard a colleague tell someone about how her son was being bullied and how it was having an impact on him. ONly then I realized how some kids are so insensitive to others. Some take it up as a challenge and come out of it ,but you cannot expect kids to know what is happening to them. Really nice to read the way you handled things with your son. Awareness about bullying should be given to kids. What they consider a joke, might not necessarily be one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Roshni, you are wonderful! Thank you for being such a great mom. I would have loved to have had that growing up. It’s so so hard. And thank you for the reminder. While I started making sure communication was open when I put my older girl in school, I had kind of fallen out of practice. I actually turned down the music in the car and had a chat with her this morning on the way to school after reading this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Talking to the kids is the first and most important step. I was much like you Roshni and my seven yeal old daughter is the kind who could get bullied easily. I talk to her everyday in my effort to prepare her for tomorrow. It takes a lit of courage to take the step your son did and it is assuring that he know how to fight his battles and fight them in a right manner.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome post, Roshni. Kudos to you for keeping the lines of communication open with your kids so Big A felt comfortable talking to you about what was going on. I read far too many sad stories about kids who let bullying go on and on and keep it all to themselves. It’s SO important for them to know they have someone they can confide in, and trust implicitly. Even beyond that, I know how hard it was for you to stay home that day and not get involved. I think one of the hardest things we have to do as moms is take a step back and make sure that our kids have the skills needed to take care of things on their own. I’m so glad this story has a happy ending – parenting win!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Ways to Unplug a Bully’s Power | Rereading Jane Eyre

  10. Wonderful post, Roshni! Kudos to you for dealing with bullying so sensibly while growing up. And let me commend Big A too for dealing with those bullies in such a mature manner! *Clap clap*.

    Completely endorse your views on the need to encourage talking&listening to our kids, Roshni. It is so important, I feel, to keep that trust of our children in us alive. Oh yes it does help them gain strength and comfort in a big way. I know for a fact it does because it has always helped me and my daughter to tackle bullying whenever it has reared its ugly head, in a far better way.

    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The middle school years can be particularly tough for kids in terms of bullying (and everything else), but your son seems to be handling it well. Self-confidence is so important for kids to stand up to bullies, and resist being one themselves.

    Like

    • Thanks, Dana! He’s actually going to join middle school this year and I’ve heard the same that bullying is bad at that stage! Hopefully, he has the resources he needs to get through it!

      Like

  12. I am terrified of people bullying my son. When I was in middle school, a group of boys (that I now realize probably “liked” me but then I was terrified of) told my friend that they were going to follow me home and rape me and I hid at the school for hours after it’d been let out sure that I could walk home safely. I never told anybody. My son has delays and speaks “funnily” and wow, I’m frightened. Roshni, sounds like you handled it perfectly and Hasty – I know I owe you a post. Soon, I promise. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Building from bullying #1000Speak - Indian American Mom

  14. Oh, kids can be really cruel to each other! Agree that listening and talking to your child about bullying is so important! Glad that Big A handled it all so well. Kudos to him and you too!

    Like

  15. Oh Roshni!! I am SO proud of your son for handling it all by himself and for you for supporting and guiding him in doing so!! What an experience of empowerment for him- despite the horrible treatment he received. I’m SO glad it turned out for the good. This is such an excellent ‘happy ending’. 🙂

    Like

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