Coming to the knowledge that your child (of any age) is being unfairly treated, hurt or bullied brings out the mamma bear and the dada giant in each of us. I know from personal experience that it takes a huge amount of restraint to not squeeze into my Wonder Woman suit and cause the guilty party to wonder what happened to them.
There are indeed times when we do need to step in and stand up for our children when the situation is beyond what they can handle, but in most cases, every hardship is an opportunity for us to not just nurture, but to also teach and strengthen our children. This is often easier said than done.
There are moments when I absolutely love it when my kids are #SmartAsses who #KickAss and then there are times when their gentleness and kindness melt our hearts and hubby and I pat one another on the back. Then there are times where the things that they utter and do make us desperate for a one-way ticket to the earth’s core. In these moments I remind myself that they are little humans, not programmable robots. They will not be the same every day, but it is our responsibility to make sure that we raise them to be both resilient and gentle.
So what now?
In our quest to both be a family of resilient, yet gentle individuals and in a ploy to get along with the rest of the people in this world, we have five principles that we TRY to apply as a family. Emphasis on try, because it is much easier to preach one thing and do another when you are the adult and you do not have the same level of perceived accountability that our children have. Sometimes I need to sit myself down and remember these rules when I too come face to face with adult bullies and unfair situations.
- No one promised that life is fair. When we raise kids with the expectation that life is explicitly fair, they will have an unrealistic expectation. Rather teach them to be grateful on behalf of others. Teach them to take enjoyment in the prosperity of others. Teach them to not be jealous when others receive and they don’t. Teach them to not be ashamed when they are blessed while others are not. Similarly, teach them to not be ashamed when it is not their time to shine.
- Disappointments help us to appreciate gifts and blessings. When we only have fair weather, we forget to appreciate the sunshine. When we always hear yes, we forget to appreciate every go-ahead. There is nothing like a miserable day to help you appreciate the sunshine on your face. There is nothing like a series of no’s to help you to appreciate a yes.
- Judge actions and not people. It is so easy to judge a person according to their actions, yet we all make mistakes. When your child has been hurt by the actions of another, resist discussing the character of the other person. Rather help the child to acknowledge and name their emotions and then guide them towards finding a solution to the situation and not the person.
- Gossip never solves anything. When teaching your child to judge actions and not people, you will often need to shut down conversations where they are discussing a person. Do it is such a way that they always have the confidence to come and inform you of unsavory situations, but do not encourage gossiping about people. Should a personal issue arise, train them to have the emotional intelligence to discuss the consequences of a certain action with the person performing the actions directly. That person is the only one with the ability to not repeat the action.
- Think, look, listen. When teaching your child how to deal with difficult situations, teach them to THINK by asking questions. During this process guide them to think of positive solutions, rather than spiral into a negative thought pattern. By asking open-ended questions you will be able to understand your child’s thought patterns as well. Teach them to LOOK at the situation from many angles. Ask them to put themselves in the shoes of all involved. Teach them to look for amicable and practical solutions. Teach them to LISTEN to the advice of others, but to discern good advice from bad advice.
There are much more that you can add to this list, but these 5 basic principles will help you to raise resilient, yet gentle children who will be able to love extravagantly, while still guarding their hearts. It will teach them to shine in the face of adversity and it will increase their emotional intelligence.
How does your family deal with bullying and difficult situations? Please share your golden nuggets in the comments section.