Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bullying Is Normal!

Does your kid tease others?
When is it just joking and jesting?
Is it OK for your child to chide classmates?

I remember watching my 6-month-old reach out and snatch a toy from her older sibling and then laugh when she screamed in response. Normal resentment and occasional anger felt by kids results in aggression. Kids seek to establish a dominant-submissive hierarchy. Calm, passive parents call my office frantic because their two-year-old pushes other children down. Teasing, picking on others, aggression IS a part of normal development!

It's normal, folks, but (before I get hostile comments) . . . and here's the big BUT; that doesn't mean you shrug your shoulders and say, "It's just kid behavior," or "Brenda says it's part of normal development" and let it slide. You must still step in and teach (discipline) appropriate behavior.

Accept that some aggressive behaviors are norm and keep a vigilant eye on your immature little darling. Be ready to intervene and teach simple conflict resolution whether your child is on the giving or receiving end.

My first daughter was emotionally tormented all through her first grade by a larger female classmate. I constantly reminded my daughter, "Practice your ignoring skills." I encouraged her to talk to the teacher. I rehearsed with her when to respond. I even tried the, "Try to make friends with her" talk. Somedays I resigned with, "Just toughen up!" It was a grueling year but, she learned some negotiation skills and gained new insights about herself. And, hopefully, I strengthened as a parent.

Sometimes parents are so exhausted they don't want to go to the "trouble" of supervising playgroups or sibling interaction. But, and here's another big BUT, don't let your exhaustion weaken your parental responsibility. Dr. Karl Menninger wisely observed, "What's done to children, they will do to society." Your precious little one grows up to either contribute to - or take from - society. What are you doing to teach your child about communication, conflict resolution, and compromise?

Believe me, I know child discipline is never-ending. But whether tots or teens, kids need adult guidance! For the sake of your happy homelife, your child, and of our society, I encourage you to remember the value and purpose of discipline . . . and just do it.

We can't cease all bullying - that'd be like stopping the wind from blowing - but we can do our best to model and teach how to get along with others. It's also important to coach the victims in developing inner fortitude.

Need more discipline help - or know someone who does? There are 8 effective methods on my 1-hour CD, "Creative Discipline." You can order it now for $12 at (see right column for more info). It's easy listening for busy parents on the go.


Zachary Grimm said...

Great post, Brenda! As a substitute teacher's aide for Fredericktown, I see a LOT more of what kids are doing these days, and how they're interacting with each other. Some of what I see is actually surprising and pretty neat! :)

Parenting Expert Brenda Nixon said...

Thanks for your read through and cmment Zach. Yes, I've substituted in the public school system and have seen how kids interact with each other. Some behavior is just normal growing-up stuff where kids are resilient and deal with it, and some behaviors suggest disturbing trends. It takes a wise, vigilent adult to know the difference.

Jan Murray said...

I'm with you Brenda. Parenting with persistent disciplines is tiring but it has to be done. Bullying traits can start as a toddler. Much of life's rules and social skills are learnt in the sandpit - share, don't throw sand, ask politely to name a few.

Dee Yoder said...

Wonderful post, Brenda. I agree, teaching better responses in a given situtaion is the key to helping your child learn from conflicts and encounters--be he/she the agressor or "victim".

Sandy Fowler said...

I actually ran into this on the adult end. I was talking to a friend recently about a person who was making her life difficult and, while the bully wasn't demanding her lunch money, we realized that this was adult bullying.

If we don't teach our children how to behave they will turn into adult bullies.

On the up side, once we named the situation for what it is my friend knew just how she wanted to handle it.