I was raised in a household in 70’s where nurturing a child’s self-esteem would be considered laughable. I remember hearing, “good kids should be seen and not heard” and my father would get a few laughs saying that “the joys of raising kids are grossly exaggerated.” I know that my father loved me, but I did feel small and insignificant.
Parents don’t purposely try to lower their child’s self-esteem. It happens by accident. We must remember our own baggage and not be a bully or worse, overcompensate by treating them like a victim. There’s no power in being a victim.
I remember notes being passed around in class. Hats were getting rip off people’s heads, people were being followed home from school and tripped. It’s not much different now but kids have lost their ability to cope. Social media has amplified this, and many can’t deal with the stress of not being accepted or good enough.
To make matters worse parents aren’t the go-to people. We don’t have a right to know what’s going on and it’s a privilege denied to any parent that tries to interfere too much. We must respect their privacy and independence.
The question shouldn’t be, how do we stop the bully. The question should be how do we get rid of the victim? Adversity, including the bully in the playground, hits everyone throughout their life.
We must show up and be the people we want our children to be. Kind, not perfect but good enough and certainly worthy of love and belonging.
I also think kids benefit when they hear where you’ve messed up. Where you aren’t as confident as you’d like to be or what struggles you’re dealing with right now. It’s always good to know that you’re not alone. Resiliency is a muscle that you build one dilemma at a time.
I watch the Grammy’s and the Oscars every year. The winner’s that come up to give their acceptance speeches always name a parent or a teacher or someone in their community who impacted their life. Someone who helped them believe in themselves before they did. That’s what we need to do to bully proof our kids.
Give them the voice inside their head that says, “I believe in you. You’ll figure something out.”
This article was first published in the January 2018 issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our January 2018 issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer (find a list of locations here) or read our digital version.