It’s a fact of life. There will always be bullies. How do we deal with it? I struggle with the answer to this question as I decide what to teach my 4-year-old daughter.
We went to a community carnival and spent 20 minutes in line for a turn in the bouncy castle. When it was her turn, my daughter went in with about 7 other kids for a 5-minute turn. During the entire turn, another child physically bullied my daughter – pushing her, pulling her, jumping on her, grabbing her. When my daughter ran over to the mesh side where I was standing, I encouraged her to use her words and tell the other child, “No. Stop that. I don’t like that.” You may already know my daughter is a highly sensitive child – so for her to speak up for herself is a big deal.
I was amazed and proud of her when she did it.
However her words had little effect on the other child, who tried to grab her face as she said, “please stop doing that”. When it was time to come out of the bouncy castle, the child pushed my daughter down and jumped on her one last time before leaving. My daughter did not want to get out and began to cry – likely because she felt cheated of her turn, essentially getting beaten up the whole time.
What should I have told her to do?
What should I tell her to do in the future?
Should I teach her to hit back if someone hits her first?
Where does the line get drawn?
The best advice I’ve heard is to teach your child to walk away and remove themselves from the situation. But there will always be situations where they CAN’T walk away. So what do they do then?
Dr. Laura Markham from AHA Parenting has some tips for empowering your child against bullying. Teaching my daughter self-assertions is definitely something I am working on. Role-playing is something I haven’t tried – and am not sure when to start implementing. There are lots of books about bullying out there as well – I just don’t know where to start! It is a scary and dangerous world to me!