Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are really obvious -- the loud, obnoxious kids that have no problem running right over the nice kid in the next seat on the bus. We have all told our kids to just stay away from these types of mean children. But have we taught our kids how to handle the bullying that is happening right within their own circle of friends? Is your child prepared to handle being pushed around by who we think is “the sweet kid”? It's this not -so-obvious bully that often falls just under the radar at school that we need to prepare our children for -- especially our girls.
Girls -- they can be so darned mean. Our daughters want so badly to fit in to what can often be a very cut-throat environment, and at an alarmingly young age. On a daily basis they are hearing from their “best friends” things like:
“Don’t talk to Sally today, she is stupid and I want everyone to be mad at her. If you do talk to her I won’t sit with you at lunch.”
“You can’t pick who plays, I pick the group, remember?”
“Lets make a secret club -- since clubs aren’t allowed at recess. Just don’t tell anyone, OK? You can be in our club, but you have to ignore Julie like us, OK?”
“Hurry up and get to the tire swing, and if Sue shows up, tell her it’s taken and she can’t play.”
Those are all actual statements made to a third grade girl by her “best friend,” telling her who she could and could not be friends with, what she could or could not do, every day in school for more than a year! Her mother found a note one day, written by her daughter, who was begging her "best friend" to be friends with her again. When her mom asked why the “best friend” was mad at her, the little girl said, “Because I sat with Sue at lunch yesterday, so she won’t talk to me -- and she got the rest of the girls to ignore me, too.”
This subtle bullying is running rampant in our elementary school classrooms. Children need to learn how to handle situations like these, and the way to prepare them is to teach them about “Me Power.”
Me Power is a person's personal power over themselves in situations, and how they handle their reaction to others. It can help children to naturally stand up for themselves and for what they believe. Children must be taught never to give away their Me Power by allowing another child to tell you what you can and cannot do. If you do, you allow others to direct your friendships and, worst of all, you participate in situations that do not feel right or good to you.