The question this week comes from a third grader being bullied by a group of older girls. “How can I get them to be nice to me.” She asked. I thought back to a time while visiting my sister, in Texas. We were at the grade school and I was looking out over the vast green grounds where the shiny jungle gym stood in all its childhood glory. The covenanted piece of playground equipment, my niece was twirling excitedly on. She could hardly wait to show me her new tricks. She had practiced long and fought hard to learn them. She had even fallen prey to the harsh words of some older jealous girls while innocently playing on that jungle gym during recess. After reminiscing about that time, I called my niece to ask her what advice I should give this young girl. Since it had only been just a year that she had experienced the same things.
“Well, I went and told my friend, Margret, what had happened. One of the bullying girls was her older sister.” My sweet niece explained confidently, proud to share what she had learned. “Then she went home and told their mother.” Her persecutors weren’t particularly nice to her after that, but they weren’t mean either. “They just didn’t talk to me. And that is ok. I just kept practicing.” She shared matter-of-factly.
The most important key to dealing with bullies is to know who you are and being ok with that. It’s most assuredly the best thing we can teach our children. We cannot make people be nice. But we can learn how to calm this jungle called life. The only way to do that is to know who you are. A child of God. Born with the same inner strengths as the kings of the jungle and an innate personal desire to do good and soar. When we know this, it doesn’t matter what others say around us. There are times when we need to seek help from those we love. Then let it go, do not let the weight of their words weigh you down and stop you from soaring high with your dreams. Remember you are a unique, specifically built to accomplish your own personal mission here in this jungle, with a royal bloodline, child of the highest God.
I have another friend who grew up to be a counselor, he was bullied as a boy and now has a deep desire to help others overcome bullying. Here’s his story. I thought it would also help this young girl in her struggle.
A little about myself: I was raised in a super small town called Blanding Utah. I met my wife while at Utah State University and we have a one-year-old boy. When I was in kindergarten, I got super thick glasses because my vision was so bad. These glasses made my eyes huge and made me the target of lots of bullying. Through the years the bullying got worse. I had kids stick pens in my bottom, put me in the trash-can, and all sorts of other things. The grownups had no clue what was going on, so I was on my own. With the help of my loving father, I was able to overcome my bullies and become better and not bitter. My experiences with bullies gave me a drive and passion to help students and I became a school counselor and school speaker and founder of the social media platform Bullies Be Gone on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. If I’m not at home with my wonderful family, I’m spending time trying to help kids through their trials.
Which leads us to the question today: how can we get other kids to be nicer to us? Long story short, we can’t. Kinda. Hear me out.
We can’t control the actions other folks do or the words they say. We can only control one thing: ourselves. With that in mind, here are the three things that I did to eventually become great friends with my Bullies.
1) Know who you are. Say what know? How do you even explain “who you are”? Well, what do you want people to think of when they think of you? Are you kind? Are you respectful? Do you treat others well? You see, once you know who you are, it doesn’t matter what other people say. they can say whatever they want, and you know it’s not true. Once we know who we are, the haters lose all of their power over us. Their opinion just doesn’t matter.
2) Focus on the positive and what you do have. I didn’t have many friends in school. So I focused my time and energy on the things in my life that I did have. Things like my family and my talents.
3)This last step is arguably the best way to get friends and to get even the coldest bully to eventually soften up. And it’s the cheesiest step there is: serve others.
We spend too much time trying to impress people we don’t even like that much. Instead of wasting our energy caring about what they think or say, I would try to find someone who I can serve. Maybe it’s a kid who looks lonely in class. Maybe it’s that kid who just dropped his books. Maybe it’s the girl who tripped outside. Maybe it’s just some kid in the hall who you said “hi” to. Find those people. They are the ones that will help you feel the most happiness. those are the ones who will turn into true friends. And along the way, maybe even some of those cold bully hearts will warm right up.
In short, as we know who we are, the opinions of bullies stop mattering. It makes it easier for us to focus on the positive things in our lives and what we do have, and not on what we don’t. As we focus on the things in our life that we do have, we see that we are extremely blessed, and we will want to help other people feel the same. As we serve others around us, we will make friendships and relationships that will last.
We can’t make people be nice to us. But we sure can be nice to others. And that’s where we can all make a difference. One kid at a time
Facebook: Bullies Be Gone