Friday, January 22, 2010

Hit her Back - bullying

My husband mentioned to me that another child on the bus had hit my daughter, on more than one occasion. The Mama-bear in me came out. Husband said he told Munchkin to "slap the crap out of her."
I'm not opposed to self-defense. I want Munchkin to feel okay about defending herself and fighting back if the situation warrants. On the other hand, I want her to have other options too. And I don't relish the thought of dealing with suspensions for fighting on the school bus, although I would if I had too.
I talked with Munchkin. I suggested that Becca stand up and yell "DO NOT HIT ME" and then walk forward to sit near the bus driver. Munchkin told me she couldn't yell on the bus or get up and move seats. I was trying to explain that she sure could - this was an exception to the rule. She started getting upset so I dropped the subject.

Husband called the school and talked to them about the situation. Munchkin said that the bus driver moved Becca. So hopefully that takes care of the immediate incident. However, it concerned me that Munchkin got so upset about standing up for herself.

So last night in the car on the way to cheerleading I was talking to her about it more. And playing "pretend" - what if someone hits her? touches her privates? Steals her book? I discussed yelling "NO" and "STOP THAT." Munchkin kept saying, "but we can't yell on the bus. Or move around."
At one point I got a real fierce voice and said "Munchkin, it is NOT okay for someone to hurt you. That makes me mad. I'd want to hurt them. You are my baby girl and NO ONE hurts you."
She said "really Mama? What would you do?"

I said "well I'd want to kill them or beat them up. No one hurts you and I will do whatever it takes to protect you."
She was silent and I think it made an impression.
I went over again things she can do to protect herself - yelling, screaming, moving, whatever. And that most of all, she needs to tell me or another adult - over and over until the problem is solved.

The whole conversation made me think about how we teach kids, consciously and subconsciously. Sure she needs to follow the rules of the bus. But on the other hand, there are always exceptions to rules in emergencies. I think that Husband and I are going to try some "practice" sessions with Munchkin where we pretend she is in a situation where she needs to react and see what she thinks she might do. I sure want her to be prepared. Any of you other parents have ideas?


Tracie said...

There is such a fine line between telling your kid to obey the rules and telling them to stand up for is hard to know how to walk through it.....

I have always told my daughter that if she is in a class or something the teacher is in charge and she should do what the teacher says. Then I ask her what she would do if the teacher told her to do something crazy....and I use a funny example like "try to stand on your head" she laughs and says she would do her best. Then I ask her what she would do if the teacher told her to show him/her her private parts and she says "That would not be appropriate because no one is supposed to look at those" and I told her that if a teacher or anyone who is in charge or even another kid tells her to do something that she knows isn't okay or makes her feel uncomfortable she should say, "No, and if you have a problem with that you should call my mom"...(and of course she should immediately tell me what happened etc)..and I tell her that she will definitely never get in trouble with me for disobeying someone who tells her to do something that would get her hurt or invade her personal space. We have practiced several different ways that she could stand up for herself in different situations-always emphasizing that no matter what any adult or kid tells her that she would never be in trouble with me.

16 blessings'mom said...

A few years back my son Sam was being bullied on the bus, so my older son Ben told Sam to punch the kid who was bugging him. So Sam punched the kid. He had to go to the principal, and he told the principal that his older brother told him to. I talked to the principal, and we all agreed that the kid deserved it, and the incident was dropped , with the other boy being told to leave Sam alone. Solving problems without violence is much better, of course, but little girls are rule-abiders too. I also tell them that they should NEVER let anyone do anything to them they don't like. An open dialogue with the school is a must though because if they know what is going on, and your daughter DOES decide to smack the girl back, she probably won't get in trouble. Which she shouldn't. These kids bully other kids because they think they can. I wish I could smack them all myself, it makes me so mad. But that doesn't help things, does it? Well, good luck with it!

beautifuldreamer said...

Back when I was a kid, parents didn't have these kinds of talk with us. No one told us how to protect ourselves, or even that we had the right to speak up.

It's wonderful to hear you guys discussing this subject and how you approach it with your children. My hat's off to all of you!

Anonymous said...

Did you mean to include a real name in that post?

I think your talk with her was great.

lawyerchik said...

Not being a mother myself, I can only pass along the advice my mother gave me: hit 'em back. I think it's cool that you and your husband are willing to "train" your daughter to stand up for herself. Good for you!

Ethereal Highway said...

I think it's very important that you notified the school just in case your daughter is misunderstood by the bus driver if she yells or changes her seat. It sounds like you are doing the right things. It sure sucks when kids get bullied. It can be very damaging if it continues. I'm glad you're not ignoring it as many parents do.

April_optimist said...

When my daughter was young, we talked often about her options. I gave her the freedom to walk to a friend's house because I thought it was important she believe in herself. And we went over how to handle things if anyone tried to grab her or hurt her.

We also talked about how she might interpret hurtful situations because the internal damage can be as great as the external damage.

We talked about listening to her instincts and her right to refuse to do anything that seemed wrong. To handle situations respectfully as much as possible, but assured her we would back her up if she felt something was wrong and reacted accordingly.

She's grown up into a strong, competent woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself.

I think that the very fact she carried herself with confidence helped keep her safe. She never looked like an easy target.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we also have bene in this situation and we say move away do what you can to stay away and if that doesnt work then we will step in.

Rising Rainbow said...

I think that I would talk to the school as well. Sounds to me like kids need to know there are exceptions to the rule. What if the bus caught fire? Would the kids sit there and not yell because it would be breaking the rules? I'm sure there would be other situations as well that would warrant yelling or getting the adults attention. The school needs to address those issues so kids can be safe.