Bullying….where does it fit in for our children as Christians?
As far back as I can remember my mother always taught me and my sister to be nice to everyone, regardless of how different they are from us. Thankfully I listened but being nice to everyone was not popular in school. I can remember being “picked on” in fourth grade for helping tutor a special needs classmate and as much as I would like to say I ignored my classmates it still stung a little. From then on I learned that kids, and unfortunately adults, do this to make them feel better about themselves or they themselves are hurting people. My tutoring ended so you would think the “picking on” would end but you see they just move on and pick something new…Glasses in fifth grade led to being labeled 4 eyes…Late growth spurt led to other labels…fortunately my bullying did not even graze the surface of what most kids endure. Sometimes as adults I think we lose sight of what our kids face every day when they are with their peers. The good news is that all the recent news media is helping to shed light on stopping this behavior and teaching our kids how to intervene on someone’s behalf.
Take time throughout your week and talk with your kids about their classmates and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are having any problems or if a classmate is having problems. Teach them how to respond to a bully and have practice sessions where your child can play out how they would react. I’ve taught my boys that if they see a child being bullied to walk up to that child, put their arm around their shoulders and slowly guide them away from the situation. This way your child does not have to be confrontational and it is easier to make the choice to do something. We’ve also taught them to always report what has happened to a teacher or adult. You are never a tattle tale if you are reporting behavior that is damaging to someone.
When I drop my boys off for school I always say…in my long good bye…”Smile and be nice to somebody who needs it!” They now repeat it as I say it…mostly making fun because I say it so much…but I know that repetition equals results. I pray that if they see a child being left out they will be the one to step up and ask them to play. I tell them often how special we all are in God’s eyes and how God loves us all regardless of our skin color, our size or our abilities. I stress often that someone needs to be the first one to step up so it might as well be them.
In Proverbs 16:7 it says “When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” I believe we when teach our children to do their best and live each day for the Lord, the rest will fall into place. I just heard this verse this morning and it just made my heart smile. What an awesome verse to undergird our children with in their everyday walk with the Lord. Life is never easy all the time for a Christian but I can say from experience when you set your standards and live them in front of the world, even non-Christians will respect them.
Here are a few verses you can share with your child:
Matt 5:44 - But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Leviticus 19:18 - Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
2 Timothy 1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
King James Version (KJV)
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.