October 1, 2012

A teachable moment

Over at The Mom Pledge Blog today, I'm talking about an incident I witnessed between middle school students I suspect was bullying. It provided an excellent opportunity to talk with my young daughter.

"In a few minutes," I said as SB finished her after school snack, "we are going to get in the car."

"Where are we going?"

"I need to talk to someone."


"I saw something bad happen this morning," I explained. "I didn't do anything about it when I saw it, and that has bothered me all day. I want to go and try to make things right if I can."

"What happened that was bad?"

"I saw a boy hit another boy. It looked like maybe he hurt him."

"Why did he do that?" she asked, wide eyed.

"I don't know. People do mean things sometimes."

"Were they big kids or little kids?"

"They were both older than you. The boy who did the hitting was very big, and the boy he hit was very small. Sometimes people who are big pick on people who are small. We call it "bullying.'"

"When I'm a big girl, I'm not going to be mean to people."

"I hope you won't, sweetie. It's important to be kind to others. You have a good heart and you are very thoughtful. It's hard for me to imagine you being mean."

She took another bite of her snack. After a few moments she asked, "Which boy are you going to talk to?"

"The one who got hit," I replied. "To make sure he is OK."

"You're not going to talk to the big boy?"

"No. I want to hear what the other boy has to say about what happened."

"Can we take the boy some cookies?" she asked. "To make him feel better?"

"That is a very nice idea."

I love my sweet little girl! Later, after we returned home and were walking into the house, she said, "The boy didn't want to talk to you."

"No, he didn't."

"You're a stranger."

"I am. And he may not have been comfortable talking to a stranger about what happened. His Mommy has probably told him not to talk to strangers. But I said what I needed to say. And he was OK."

"You didn't give him the cookies," she said.

"If he didn't want to talk to a stranger," I explained, "I don't think he would take food from one."


"Thank you for coming with me and helping me do an important thing. And for being such a good girl."

That night at dinner, SB told hubby how a big boy hit a small boy. And we talked a little more about it.

"Why are some people mean?" she asked earnestly.

"I can't say for sure," I told her. "I believe it is because they don't feel loved or good about themselves. And because they are hurting on the inside, they lash out and try to hurt other people."

That seemed to be the end of the conversation, and she changed the subject. But it was an excellent opportunity to talk to my child about bullying.

Like all important topics, it is never too early to start.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Take the opportunity initiate a conversation about bullying with your child(ren). There are lots of great resources. Stop by The Mom Pledge's Facebook page to see some of the ones we recommend.

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