Every night, I ask my daughter what her highlights and lowlights were from the day. Usually, it’s innocent answers about eating candy or not getting enough screen time, but then there are those rare days where the answer is something every parent dreads. Something we mentally prepare for but is so heart wrenching that we are left at a loss of what to say. I am talking about when your child is the victim of bullying.
We all know that the chances of our children being victimized by another child is likely, and that is why we, as their protectors, try to mentally prepare before it happens, so that we can say and do all the right things to protect their hearts. We dress them in pink for school on Pink Shirt Day. We build inclusive book collections for their personal libraries. We raise them to know that it is ‘cool to be kind’. Then, one day, they happen to wear a shirt that isn’t ‘cool’ to school, or plays with a toy that someone else wanted, and that is when it happens. Your child is now looked at differently. Your child is being singled out and now their best friend no longer wants anything to do with them. How do we prepare them for that? How do we fix their broken hearts? How do we show them that it will get better? How do we take away their pain?
I wish I had the answers for these questions, but I don’t. All I can suggest is to be their advocate and take appropriate action when necessary. Be their shoulder when they need to cry. Be their sounding board when they need to talk about it. Be their parent and raise them to not bully in return. Keep building their inclusive libraries, celebrate zero tolerance for bullies, and acknowledge their kindness. Raise a generation that values kindness over belittling, in hopes that one day, we won’t need to prepare them for bullying but rather prepare them to celebrate one another.