Is Your Child Being Bullied?
I will not ever forget the time my precious, beautiful daughter came home from seventh grade as sad as can be. It took me hours to get it out of her, but she finally admitted that one of the boys had said something horrible to her in front of the whole class. He turned around in a quiet classroom and said, “It’s called acne cream, _________!” I can’t even get myself to put her name in there as he did. My heart broke, but with it I had the tools to help my little girl navigate through a painful moment of bullying, that could have left a mark.
The statistics are staggering. According to an ABC news report in November of 2006, an estimated 160,000 children miss school each day due to fear of bullies. Six out of ten witness a “mean girl” (or boy) attack every day. This can happen in your own backyard during the summer. A lot of times a child doesn’t tell anyone about his fears.
So how do you know if your child’s recurring “tummy ache” is just that or a cry for help?
Get that child talking! The best way to help him or her navigate through life is lots of communication. But communication with children doesn’t happen over coffee or tea. It happens in the middle of activity. The best way to open up his or her heart is to spend time together. (This week that includes a sleepover at my parents’ mountain house, fingernail painting, shopping, ice cream at Meyer’s Dairy, and watching TV together.)
When my kids were smaller, we used to call ourselves the “Backyard Bandits.” Why? Because we were known to do a lot of “ding-dong ditching.” Oh, we never left burning bags of … well, you know what! We left behind something wonderful to brighten up the day of our “victims.” It became a great favorite of my kids and always opened up their hearts to talk about being nice … and being mean. Why don’t you give it a try? Here’s how it works:
Monster Cookie Ding-Dong Ditching
This ding-dong ditch provides all the exhilarating excitement of sneaking around in the dark and doing something daring with your daughter, but ends with an act of kindness for the “victim.” In the end, it’s a great set up to talk about mean girls and how you never want your daughter to be one. It may also open her heart up to talk to you if she’s been the victim of one.
- Make Monster Cookies*. They’re so big, that they earn their name. (Warning: you’ll need an ice cream scoop to drop them onto your cookie sheet!)
- Prepare your ding-dong ditch “calling card.” Name yourselves something exciting like “Backyard Bandits” or “The Cookie Rookies.” Decorate a disposable plate with your chosen name.
- Sneak through the night and commit your surprise, sleuth-like act of kindness. Drop those cookies at your neighbors’ house.
- Gab Time: Ask your son or daughter how it feels to do something nice for someone. Talk about how ding-dong ditching can sometimes end with something mean and that being mean has become so common that there’s actually a term for it: bullying. Ask him if anyone has ever done or said something mean to him. Ask, “How did that make you feel?”
Tell your children that you never want them to be a bully or a mean girl, but that you always want them to be known for doing acts of kindness like what you did together tonight!
*Monster Cookies Recipe
These cookies are ginormous!
• 6 eggs
• ½ lb. butter
• 1 lb. brown sugar
• 2 c. white sugar
• 1/3 c. vanilla
• ½ t. salt
• 1 ½ lb crunchy peanut butter
• 4 t. baking soda
• 9 c. rolled oats
• ½ lb. chocolate chips
• ½ lb M&Ms
Blend sugar and butter. Add eggs and beat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by ice cream scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.