Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall in Love Friday #4. *Dealing with Bullies & Helping Someone Who is Being Bullied.*

Fall in Love Friday #4

Here we are at the 4th official Fall in Love Friday Post. I had planned for this to be the last post in this series, but since fall isn’t officially over yet I have decided to continue with Fall in Love Fridays’ until December 1st!
In yesterdays Thoughtful Thursday post I wrote about allowing your self to forgive someone, even when they are not sorry. Often when someone is being a meanie or a bully they will not ever apologize to you for the things that they have done.
For today’s Fall in Love Friday post I want to spend a little more time on the subject of Bullies & Meanies.  I was the victim of some intense bullying when I was in middle school & came home many days in tears.  There were mornings where I didn’t want to go to school because I knew that something cruel was going to happen, or I was going to be teased relentlessly. Luckily, I did have an amazing core group of friends & a super understanding family. I managed to make it through middle school with decent enough grades & enough extracurricular activities to be accepted into a boarding school in Northern Wisconsin. For me, the bullying ended once I left my small-hometown behind. I was able to grow into a whole new person & excel in a new, healthy & safe environment.
Not everyone who is being bullied will be able to literally move away & start over. I wanted to move the moment I arrived in 5th grade, but that was not feasible & I endured being bullied until the end of 8th grade. So, I want to offer some help & love to any of you out there who have experienced bullying, who may encounter bullying in the future or even for parents that have had their little loved one come home from school in tears over something they went through. 

 (One of my personal favorite proverbs, everything you experience is to help you become a butterfly. Even the negative things like bullies!)

1.)  When I was being bullied I considered quitting every activity, sport or after school program I was involved in. I wanted to hide out at home without having to see the kids that were being so awful towards me. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I somehow ended up doing the exact opposite. I joined every sport, musical, play, group, club & community event I possibly could (Thanks Mom!) & by doing that I was able to find groups of kids who shared my interests & were great friends. Not everyone is a bully; you can’t let the actions of a few rude kids ruin your life. Middle school, high school, they are only a few years of your life, so make the most of it & set yourself up to be able to just leave your bullies behind. I did. ;)
2.)  Talk to someone.  If you are being bullied, please find someone in your life that you are comfortable talking to. Perhaps it’s a teacher, a coach, a friends parent, your own parents, an older sibling, friends….anyone that can give you healthy advice & be there when the bullying gets to be too much. Reaching out & asking for help or advice does not mean the bullies have won or you are weak. It means that you don’t have to struggle alone & that you have the strength to admit that something terrible is happening to you.
3.)  If someone you know is being bullied, be supportive, listen to them when they open up to you. I would not have made it through middle school if it hadn’t been for a few close friends & my amazing family. I felt comfortable sharing my problems with them & the best thing they ever did was listen. It did not matter if the bullying was big or small, they were there to wipe my tears & help me laugh. So if someone you know comes to you with a bullying problem, be supportive, don’t judge, just listen & try to give them what they need…a true, loyal, friend & support system.

4.)  Kindness. I know the phrase “kill them with kindness” is a total cliché that has been over used in parenting scenes on sitcoms. But there is quite a lot of truth to that idea. Bullies usually (in my experience) aren’t being bullies just for fun. Although some people get a kick out of being mean to others, most of the time they are dealing with someone difficult themselves & lashing out a someone else around them. Now, you don’t need to bake a cake for everyone that has called you a mean name or duct taped your locker closed. You can control how you react to their actions. Smile, keep your head high & focus on the life ahead of you. The bullying does end! I promise.

5.)  Set Goals. My mother is a queen of visualization & setting goals. From a young age she had my brothers & I visualizing the life we wanted & writing down goals for our futures. Keep a journal or something with you at all times, write down things that inspire you & bits about the person you aspire to be someday. Maybe you want to open a Eco-Chic store, or start a fashion line, or write the next great American Novel. Whatever it is, do not let the bullies/bullying take that away from you. Visualize. Set goals. When the bullying gets bad picture yourself a few years from now, successful, healthy, happy & bully free. You will get there. J
6.)  Parents, if your kids come home upset after dealing with a bully-experience…Be a listener & then be a parent. You have the ability to teach your child how to react to the adversity they are sure to encounter in life. Of course your protective feathers are going to be ruffled & you’re going to want to tell every person you can about the bully who made your baby cry. Resist that urge. Be a parent to your child first & help them understand how amazing, unique & truly wonderful they are. Use these moments to teach them how much being unkind to others can hurt them, so that when they are presented with the choice of being a bully or a friend, they know the right choice to make. Spend some extra time with them & make sure you are there for them each step of the bullying-way.
7.)  I fully understand that with the introduction of cyber-bullying (I encountered a small amount myself),that the things occurring between kids are much, much worse than when I myself was being bullied. If your kid has been bullied in anyway that is too much for you or them to handle, please seek some professional help.  Sometimes talking to someone outside of the family is helpful for kids & even for you as a parent. Trust your child & listen to what they are experiencing. Don’t let the bullies define your child. Don’t let the bullying become the most significant part of your child’s life.
8.)  Be able to recognize the difference between bullying & LIFE. Often as parents we are quick to over-protect our little ones & react to their hurt, sadness & difficulties by blaming someone else. Sometimes things are going to occur that are not in fact bullying, but just a part of life. Occasionally our kids are going to get called names that no one likes & be teased a little too much one day.  Just pay attention to the frequency of these occurrences & if they are increasing in times or severity it’s time to consider if your child is just having a few bad days with a few kids or if there is a bullying trend brewing.
9.)  If you are a victim of bullying, please know that you are loved. The universe has things in store for you that are so much more amazing than what you are experiencing now. There is a whole great big world out there full of things for you to do, see & try. You are so wonderful & there is a beautiful life ahead of you. Don’t let the bullies ruin the person you are meant to be. Smile, set some goals, look ahead to your future & know that there is a former bully-victim living in Alaska cheering for you to make it through all of this & show the world whose boss. 

Okay you guys. That is going to wrap up this edition of Fall in Love Friday. I have 3 little troopers who have been hanging out with me at North Star Bakery while I write this post. They have eaten grilled cheese sandwiches, ghost & pumpkin cookies & colored & played with some Thanksgiving themed felt boards so patiently while I typed away. It’s time to pack them up & head home for an afternoon of playing & reading. 

as always, love from alaska,

 Here are a couple more quotes & images to help you....I've always loved both of them & just couldn't keep them to myself. 

 All images were sourced through pinterest and are in no way my own.