We have all somehow experienced a bully. At some time, most all of us have been made fun of. And now it is our child who is being made fun of. What do we do? What do we tell them?
#1 First of all, help them to understand perceptions – other people’s perceptions.
What is perception? It is the way that someone sees, understands, and interprets something.
It does not matter the age, whether in school, the workplace, church, or the grocery story, people view life through their own individual lens. We all view the world differently. Some may like one video game more than another. Some would rather spend time at the beach and others would rather go skiing and play in the snow. Some like their food spicy and others can’t stand the heat.
As we go through life, we make perceptions or conclusions based on our past experiences, past wins and past fails, and what someone says about us. We even make conclusions based on what they don’t say but we receive through their body language or tone of voice.
Maybe someone was made fun of once and made the conclusion that, “I don’t ever want to be embarrassed like that again so to make sure that I feel big and better than someone else, I will make fun of them and put them down in front of others.”
We cannot control other people’s perceptions. We can’t control what they think of us, or what they say to us, or whether or not they like us. All we can control is our perceptions, our thoughts, and our attitudes. Will we find the truth in each situation that happens to us? Regardless of what someone else says or does, what is the truth here?
“This math isn’t easy, but I can do it. I can figure this out. I could ask for help.”
“I am smart. I am a quick learner. I can do this.”
“Someday when they blank out and forget something, I’ll help them out. I’ll encourage them to keep trying. I wish they would have done that for me, so I’ll be sure to do it for someone else.”
Now this is the truth! These are the right conclusions to make!
#2 Another thing to remember is “Who truly cares?”
Tell your child that if their classmate(s) truly cared about them, they would not have made fun of them. They would have not laughed or joked around. See, when someone truly cares, they create a safe place to try, to fail, to get back up and to try again. It’s a safe place where there is no judgment, no criticism, and no false expectations.
Tell your child, “It’s not that they don’t like you, and it’s not that you aren’t worth caring for. It is just the simple fact that the average person cares first and foremost about themselves. What is good for me?…How do I look?… Will someone talk to me?…Will someone be my friend?…”
“It is rare and special to find someone who cares and thinks more about other people first than about themselves. And while we want to be that person who loves and serves others first, our human nature is to think, ‘What about me?'”
“And that is what your classmates were thinking when they made fun of you.“
Which leads us to point #3 to remember:
#3 They were only thinking about themselves.
They were thinking, “Whew! Glad that it wasn’t me who was put on the spot. Glad that it wasn’t me who blanked out.” And they covered it up with a joke, a giggle, a tease because they didn’t want others to know what they were thinking. It is a self-defence tactic.
The truth is that “everyone has a moment when they blank out and forget something. No big deal. I won’t take to heart their jokes.” This is the message that your child needs to tell themselves.
It hurts to be made fun of, to be laughed at, or to be talked about. So listen and let your child share about being made fun of or bullied. Help them to find the truth about the situation. Decide together what may or may not need to be done about it if it were to happen in the future. Be a safe place for them to go to so that they can talk through the hurt and the embarrassment.