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Not all kids are same, not all kids are extroverts, not all kids feel comfortable meeting new people and get instantly comfortable. So what happens when a child is different, different in any way? BULLYING.
Yes, that’s what happens and kids learn it not from school but from their immediate environment that is their house. When they hear their parents talk how anything or anyone being different from what they consider normal is wrong or bad or is unacceptable. When parents watch TV with kids and laugh at a man just because his looks were different, it gives birth to bullying.
Once when I was teaching in Dominican Republic, I encountered a few instances where I learnt more about kids. Best part about that school was the willingness of the teachers and the psychologists to put kids’ happiness before everything, before lessons. No matter what time, what class was going on kids were given the liberty to go talk to the psychologists or Principal and they were always welcomes with love and affection. There were special classes and sessions to make kids aware of different ways in which they unknowingly bully their fellow classmates. It was beautiful to see the third graders to be matured enough to speak about this issue and stand right next to their friend who had ADHD. They did not treat him differently, he wasn’t given special treatment, he was loved like all other friends, he was treated equal. And so, his grades improved and his behavior changed.
Bullying happens when we as parents are not able to make our kids compassionate enough. That is why today we stress a lot on values like compassion and empathy. Bullying is not a small issue, it has forced a lot of young kids to end their lives. Do you know what that means?
A young child might have dreamt of becoming something, he/she might have wanted to eat all the chocolates when they grow up or fly or build their own castle or something else but those young kids are forced, forced by their own schoolmates to end their lives. Those kids would have loved their mother so much and the thought of leaving her would have tormented them and still they took those drastic steps because they could not take it anymore. When I say ‘could not take it anymore’, I can only imagine that a child preferred jumping off the roof of his building than living in this world. I mean how difficult people might have made it for the child to live that he decided to kill himself.
We need to teach our kids to learn to put themselves in other persons shoes, to feel and understand others and to simply believe that everyone is different and everyone deserves to be treated equally. I was ‘boring and not so cool’, I still am and because of that I faced a lot of situations that were difficult to deal with. I was too young and internet was quite new that time and there was no awareness, I did not know that I was being bullied. All I knew was that I was left out alone because I was not scoring good, when I was in grade 4. So I worked hard, studied harder scored good grades like really good grades things improved for a year or two and then I was alone again. Why? Because I was not cool enough, because I wasn’t pretty enough or because I wasn’t funny enough. I tried to fit in, shifted focus to looks and tried to get attention but even that did not work. I guess I was always different and fortunately I had one man, my father’s elder brother in my life, my tau ji, who was the only one who helped me understand that I am different and that’s good. I am very very special. I mean I used to write silliest of stories with so many mistakes but his words made me feel as if I am some Shakespeare. He was so encouraging. His support ensured that I head in the right direction.
Today it has become important to be like him for our kids. Make them feel special the way they are. Make them understand that they are great and we are proud of them.
We also need to teach our kids to be empathetic and loving towards everyone. We need to talk to them about bullying and tell them that when they laugh at a child who’s wearing glasses or braces or jokingly call them names, we are unknowingly hurting them and that’s not good. It is not good to laugh at someone because of the way they look because it is never harmless, it is always affecting someone. Make them aware what bullying is and what its effects can be on a child.
Bullying is not a small issue. No matter how small the instances is we need to talk to our kids and make them feel secure and teach them to never judge people because of anything. Bullying has taken away a lot of little kids from their parents, bullying has pushed a lot of young kids towards depression and we can’t let that happen. Be aware, be with your child and try everything you can to make sure that neither your kids get bullied nor they bully anyone.