When adults become involved, bullying tends to be far less frequent. This is really what we want to accomplish as a society. I would love to be able to say that it would completely eradicate all bullying, but that is just not realistic. However, if we do our part, we will make it easier for all of our children.
This is an issue that most of us might never think of when it comes to bullying. I am talking about how you, the parent, handle situations in your own life. I realize that right about now you must be thinking, “What in heaven’s name is this guy talking about?” This is also an issue that can cause enormous trouble when it comes to your child being considered trustworthy later in life. If you are unwilling or unable to do what you say you will do in exactly the way you say you will do it, then don’t promise you will from the beginning.
DON’T engage in name-calling yourself, especially in front of your child. You’ve no doubt heard the playground rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” No kid believes this. Sometimes words are actions. Do you remember a time in school when someone called you a name that embarrassed you in front of your friends? Maybe it was a racial slur. There are any number of medical conditions that might make someone a target for name-calling because they stand out.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear your words!” Unfortunately, negative behavior undermines anything positive that you do. You may have heard more than once about a boy who grew up in a home where the father was physically or emotionally abusive to the mother. Guess what? He probably grew up to do the same.
It’s extremely important that you start using positive ways of communicating with you child right from the start. Before they can ever walk or crawl. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in punishment when they continually do something that you have tried to instruct them not to do. But even when this situation occurs, it is important that you make them aware of the fact that you still love them and believe in them.
This is the flip side to not being your child’s BFF. While you should not try to be your child’s best friend, you do need to develop a strong relationship with them. I am not saying that you need to be parent of the year; I am saying that you must be your child’s parent. As her parent, you will have a sense of authority that a best friend will not and cannot have. There will be times that this sense of authority will be absolutely critical.
Trying to be your child’s best friend is a major mistake. I am not saying that you should not be on good terms with them; it is extremely important that you are. But do not try to be their BFF. As their parent, you are in the position of having to make decisions that are in your child’s best interests. These can be decisions that your child may not like, but you must make them.