How Getting Bullied Can Be Good For Children…
And the Younger The Better!
It wasn’t unusual for the phone to ring at around dinner time. Thinking it was an opportunity for me to unload on an obtrusive telemarketer, I hurried to the phone. When I picked up the phone I could hear rapid breathing patterns of two young people and then I heard a phrase that I never thought would be directed at an 8 year old boy…
“Daniel . . . we’re going to KILL you.”
After I reported the incident to the police they promptly identified the perpetrator. Their identity came as no surprise as this same person threatening my child had also been harassing and bullying my son on several occasions over the previous 18 months at school.
On many occasions, my son would come home from school upset at having had some altercation. I know many parents who would rush down to the school or confront the parents of the bully on behalf of their child and try to make the harassment go away. But I saw this as an opportunity to teach my son some important life skills and be alongside him while he practiced them. After all, teaching your children life skills is what parenting is all about… isn’t it?
I remember the first incident of bullying toward my son resulted in my son getting in trouble for punching this person back. On next occasion, he got into trouble again for pushing the bully away. Within a day or two of each incident, my son would sit down with me and we would discuss what went on and rather than telling him what to do, I would ask him questions like “What’s another way you could have handled the situation?” I was just encouraging him to use his mind to think of different ways he could handle these tough situations.
Some methods were more successful than others. The important thing was that we would make time to sit down and celebrate what worked well and discussed ways to improve when they didn’t work so well. In the end, after 18 months of trial and error, we came up with a strategy that provided the exact result my son was after. And the bullying stopped completely because it was rendered useless.
I was so grateful for this bully as it helped my son become a better and stronger person.
As a result of the bullying and death threats from this bully, my son now has now developed 11 different, non-violent ways of being able to successfully handle bullying behavior and conflict. But more importantly he has learned how to use his brain in challenging and confronting circumstances.
Can you comprehend how comforting that is to a parent? What affect would you think it would have on the confidence and self-belief in my son?
Upon sharing this story many parents would remark that, “No young child should ever have to deal with that.” While I initially wasn’t happy about my child getting bullied and threatened, after a while I then felt grateful that my son was getting bullied and threatened at such a young age. I actually think getting bullied can be good for young children.
Here’s seven reasons why I think getting bullied can be good for young children…
It’s an opportunity for your child to learn, experiment and practice such coping skills while they are still under your parental influence and guidance. (As children get older, they tend to not listen to there parents as much.)
An opportunity to build resilience in your child.
An opportunity to communicate with your child about something important to them.
You being there to help your child through bullying will help strengthen the parent/child bond.
An opportunity to teach your child about constructively managing the different emotions you experience during the process.
An opportunity to teach your child non-violent conflict resolution.
An opportunity for the parent to learn from the child.
We don’t go around looking for ways for our own children to be bullied. At the same time, if your child happens to be bullied, be grateful for the wonderful opportunity presented to you. Then you can use the opportunity to develop priceless life skills that would serve them for the rest of their life.
Written by Dr. Paul Lanthois