Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beat the Bully

I watched from across the room as Maxfield took a swing at his brother Wyatt. Wyatt dodged the fist. I reprimanded Max for trying to hit his brother. It is the number one rule in our house. Not because of any type of priority or anything, it is number one rule because it is the one we have say the most.

But as I watched Max trying to punch his brother I realized that he was not doing it right. His punch was all arm was coming in at the wrong angle. It struck me that if Max was ever to get into a fight in school he would not do well. I waited for his "time-out" to be over and I tried to teach him how to punch properly.

I explained that he was never to punch anyone unless he felt threatened. I then tried to explain the concept of threaten to him which did not go too well. I told him if another kid is pushing him or hurting him he has the right to defend himself. His first response should be to ask the other kid to stop. If the other kid does not stop Max should go to whatever adult is in charge. If there is no other adult around and the other kid continues to push or hurt Max, I instructed Max to ask the other kid to stop two more times. If the other kid continues after the third time I told Max he is free to punch back and remove himself from the situation.

Lauren and I do not see eye to eye on this. She would prefer Max remove himself from the situation right away. I always tell her I don't want Max to be a wuss. I want him to have the confidence to not back down to the bully. The best way to beat a bully is to beat the bully. I don't want Max to hurt another kid but I definitely don't want Max to get hurt himself.

I was letting Max punch my outstretched palms when Lauren entered the room. She asked what we were doing and I told her I was teaching Max to fight the right way. I told her about the "ask three times rule". She gave me a look.

"Max" she said "you know, that if anyone ever picks on you or is trying to hurt you, you should just walk away, right?"

Max nodded and punched my hand.

"You know you should just go to the teacher right?" she asked.

"Yes." Max said throwing another punch.

Lauren then shook her head at me in disappointment.

"What? I just thought he should learn to defend himself." I said. "Don't be mad."

She rolled her eyes. She then knelt down beside me and took Max's shoulders in her hands and started to position him in a different stance.

"If you are going to teach him to punch the least you could do is teach him the right way."

I gave her a look.

"Bill" she said "who is the black belt in this family?"

I then nodded and let my wife, who earned her black belt in karate five years ago, teach my son how to properly punch someone. I am such a wuss.

GoodNites website (which has all kinds of great resources for parents) has an excellent page called Bed Time Theater, where you can download stories for kids to listen to at bedtime. The themes of the stories of Iggy and his Wiggy Bed are about confidence, friendships, overcoming adversity and such. You should go there and listen. Even if you do not have kids of the age of bedtime stories you should check out the contest they are having. People can submit their own Iggy stories for a chance to win money as well as having their story become part of the GoodNites Bed Time Theater. And guess what, I get to be one of the judges of that contest. There is a sample story you can find here, which was written by nine bloggers one of which was me. Check it out, I think it is cool.

Here at Poop and Boogies GoodNites is giving away a prize pack valued at $175.00 which includes a 2GB Ipod shuffle, Logitech speakers, an Itunes gift card and a cuddle blanket.

For a chance to win this awesome prize pack please go to GoodNites Bedtime Theater site and listen to a couple chapters of Iggy. Then come back here leave me a comment telling me about how you deal with bullying, whether it is regarding what you teach your kids or maybe a story about you overcoming a bully when you were younger. I will select a random story to win the prize. You need to leave a comment here on the blog to be eligible for the prize pack.




Disclaimer--I have partnered with GoodNites® Sleep Pants for the Bedtime Theater program. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes developing the Iggy’s Next Adventure story, sharing the program information with my readers, tweeting my blog entry and judging the Iggy’s Next Adventure contest entries. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards the GoodNites® products.”

38 comments:

SciFi Dad said...

I grew up in a very different neighbourhood from the one I am raising my children in, so I do not expect my kids to deal with bullying the same way I did (which was basically to demonstrate that your will to survive was equal to or greater than the bully's; anything that came to fists didn't end until a parent broke it up or one of the kids was unconscious).

Our plan is to teach the kids to walk away (the notion that it takes more strength to know you are strong than to need to prove it), but be able to defend themselves if the trouble follows them.

Melinda said...

Bullies tend to be clever in the fact they strike when no one is around. I personally think walking away is the best policy.
But if given the choice to run to someone...I'd run to Lauren. I bet she'd scare the crap out of any kid picking on her child.

BunnyBear said...

Our neighborhood bully chased me down one day and rubbed poison ivy into my eyes. Telling her parents did nothing as we grew up in a rough neighborhood where parents were rarely involved with their children. My mother taught me to fight back. I intend to teach my son to do the same. Sometimes if you walk away the bully just chases you. Parents/authority figures are not always available and bullys do tend to wait for the best setup.

Heidi said...

Well with a two year old boy and a new baby on the way, I'm sure there will be enough fighting. At this point, I'm not sure how we would handle it...with siblings, definately no hitting. With bullies, I'm hoping the walk away method would work.

With these two little ones, I could definately use that gift set!

Anonymous said...

Don't make him a "Tattle Tale". The bully will keep taunting him because of that. Teach him to defend himself, and teach him to know that he will be responsible for his actions after that. Bullies are looking for attention, because of unhappiness in their lives. Max could always say, "Why are you doing this? I want to be your friend. Maybe that's all the bully needs, is friends. Life is difficult, even when you're soon to be 6 years old!

Mainline Mom said...

I'm with Lauren on this one, but I'm torn. I think it's totally different with boys and I have no idea how to relate to physical fighting. I was bullied a lot on the school bus growing up, but mostly verbally. I told my parents and they might've said something to the bus driver, I don't know. I was never very good at standing up for myself, so I'd like my kids to be able to do that. I look at my kids and I totally see the patterns of my sister and I...it's scary how similar our relationship was. I tormented verbally, and she beat me up. Then I tattled. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Cathryn said...

I am so impressed by you guys! A boy who doesn't know how to defend himself grows up to be a man who is scared to defend his wife and children and scared to stand up for what he believes is right. We need more strong men! It's awesome that you taught him to try the peaceful way out first.

And way to go Lauren! Soooo many mommies I meet want to remove everything masculine from their sons. Glad to see that's not you. Maybe that's why you've ended up with so many sons. =)

Marin D said...

I don't know how I will deal with it when it comes to my girls. They are only three and one and we haven't really encountered anything beyond cousins bickering.

For me, I tried to ignore the bullies then finally went to my parents. Before they could do anything the quarter was up and we moved on to the next science teacher. (We rotated among three teachers that year.) The second quarter teacher had a reputation as a real witch. But somehow, maybe she sensed my fear. I don't know. But man did she bully those girls. They were stupid, obnoxious girls, and I was a straight A, by the book kind of kid. She let me help set stuff up and I didn't have to do the work. But she tortured those girls. I will never forget her.

Kelly said...

Actually, my son was the victim of bullying last year--in 6th grade. He goes to a charter school that has kids from 6th to 12th, so a wide range of ages.

The first bully was during the first week of school--some kid took his milk out of his lunch while they were playing wall ball before school. He and his friend confronted the "bully" and asked for the milk back. Finally told him that it wasn't a big deal, but if it happened again, they would need to report it to a teacher. Turns out this is exactly what they were teaching the kids to do and the principal called me to praise him.

Then, in PE, he had a high school kid who was bugging him, taking his shoes, etc. Finally, we intervened on his behalf and had his class changed.

Essentially, we have told him that it is not right to fight, better to walk away--especially since my 13 year old is bigger than my husband (and five inches taller than me). People think he is much older (hence the high school kid picking on him), and he needs to be the "bigger" man.

millaa said...

When my oldest son was confronted with a playground bully who lived just around the block and frequented that playground, I stopped my son from playing with him. I had a talk with him myself. After I had a talk with him, it seemed that things went better. I encourage my children to let me know if someone is mistreating them.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what our stance on bullies will be. We aren't there yet and haven't even thought about it.

Rosie said...

I think one of the most important things that you can teach kids is to stand up against bullies even if they're not the ones being bullied. It's not enough to teach them not to bully and how to handle being bullied, but that it's not cool to stand by and watch someone else being bullied.

Sue said...

The most interesting thing I have found with bullies is that often just standing up to them makes them back down, without the punch. I always think of that part of Police Academy where the girl with the squeaky voice learns to talk with some authority. I teach kids to use the "nanny" voice.... and then beat the crap out of anyone who hurts them. :0)

Pam said...

My 2 boys are not old enough for school yet. The oldest will be starting in August. Havn't given much thought to this, yet. I usually handle the playground bully with a firm, "Hey, take it easy, or Careful please." Personally I've not encountered the bully but have observed plenty of classmates being bullied. Wish when I was younger I would have had the guts to stick up for the ones that got the brunt of it.

Tori Spelling said...

With girls, it's of course more important to teach proper hair-pulling and face-scratching techniques as defensive means rather than punching. Teaching good responsive belittling and ostracizing techniques are helpful as well.

rebeccaeee said...

We have a strategy supported by both mom and dad in our house. You can never start a fight but you can certainly finish it. Our almost 4 year old doesn't quite have it figured out yet. His preschool called today to tell me he had bumped his head. Apparently, he shoved someone out of the way to get to the bookshelf at school. When they shoved back, he hit the floor. We're going to hav to teach him to punch a little harder and a little later!

for a different kind of girl said...

I very vividly remember being bullied by an older neighbor boy when I was young. Every day when I would leave school, he'd be following me and taunting me, and one day, he swung his metal lunch box at my face. I still have a tiny dent on my forehead, right at my hairline, from it.

Because I was bullied, I'm a little sad to know I didn't realize it last year when my youngest son was being bullied by an older boy on his school bus. I think with all the talk of 'character counts' and stressing positive behavior that the schools here do, I just thought things were like a perfect world and I didn't have to worry about such things. Toss in the fact that my older son never experienced any bullying to raise my guard, and, well, needless to say, when I finally realized why my young son's moods and behavior had changed, I felt horrible.

We spent a great deal of time, after learning of it, reinforcing that he was not to blame and that he was not responsible for the other child's actions. We also talked a lot about not being afraid to simply tell the bully to leave him alone and then proceed to an adult to tell them. The bus driver, his teacher, us.

It took a great deal of time afterward to bring back the 'happy every morning to go to school' boy we had, but I'm delighted that he re-emerged, and hope that we don't ever have to deal with this situation again.

Bogart in P Towne said...

It is important for a boy to know how to punch, but the shrink bills that are created by mom teaching instead of dad will be astronomical.

Mary said...

I was never taught how to deal with bullies. I guess my dad and mom saw me as more of the bully amongst my sister and I. I was taller, with a bigger frame. So I suppose they just thought i could handle my own.

I never really had a bully thru elementary school. It was once i got to middle school that i started getting picked on. I was the fat girl who didnt know how to wear pants that touched her shoes, and had "feathered layered" hair that made me look like a big cocker spaniel. I pretty much roamed around staring at my shoes, ankles, socks, a little pant leg.

I had 2 schools. One half of the day was a place for the smart kids, center for arts and sciences. The second half of the day i went to my normal middleschool about 2 blocks from home. One day I got on the bus to get back to my normal school, rode across town, and got out. Apparently one of my bullies decided I had torn her Triple Fat Goose marshmallow coat. So during lunchtime, as i was going back to my locker, her, and 3 of her friends who also didnt like me much, decided to attempt to shut me in a locker. If you recall from earlier, i was a big kid. I put up enough of a fight and with my size, they couldnt squeeze me in. They told me how ridiculous i looked in my flooding jeans and poked at me for what seemed like forever. They taunted me, asked if i was poor, and things of that sort. I was in tears at this point just telling them to stop. Then one girl swung at me, i ducked, and ran to the office crying. They called my mom who came and got me. All 4 girls were suspended, and i was commended by the principal for not fighting back.

Its not because i didnt want to, its because at that point i didnt know how to and was severely outnumbered.

I felt like a tattletale but i also felt like the bigger person. literally and figuratively.

creative-type dad said...

I would do the same thing.

Bullies become bullies because nobody stands up to them, they're all told to walk away and ignore it when it only gets worse.

Annalisa said...

I was labeled a "MGM" (mentally gifted minor) and "MCL" (more capable learner)(thank you, California and the 1970's) when I was quite young. I was taken out of the normal classroom situation and placed in special groups that did things like Junior Great Books and learn how to use a slide rule (all geek jokes aside - hey!). I was bullied all of the time because of it. I would give wrong answers on purpose in school. I was 10 and competed in the science fair. I did a project on the power of pyramids (1973, come on!). It won first prize in botany and physics and was thus up for the sweepstakes award. I was afraid to go to school the next day after judging because I was afraid I had won and knew that winning the sweepstakes award would cause some major bullying. Indeed. Dragging my feet to the auditorium I was congratulated by several teachers. Then I was pushed down, punched and bitten by jealous students. This was just one instance but I was waited for at the bus stop - kids pulled my hair, hit me, called me every name they knew. On the last day of school in fifth grade we had a swim party and one of the boys tried to drown me. It took me up until college to start to feel normal and comfortable with my intelligence. I still suffer from the traumas with regards to my self-esteem and self-respect. Sigh. I'm 46 now.

Anonymous said...

I like a man who grins when he fights.


Winston Churchill

Anne J said...

I'm not sure how to best deal with bullying. I was always taught to just walk away and ignore it and that is how I handled it. I was bullied quite a bit in 7-8th grade, but it was always verbal and taunting behavior, nothing physcial. I just ignored it, and later when I was in 12th grade the girl who responsible for most of the bullying apologized to me for her behavior.

I agree with the other posters thought that it is different for boys, because it is more likely to be physical.

ajolly1456 at gmail dot com

Prego-Rex said...

Oops, Apparently i left the wrong link in my name. This is mary, My old myspace is gone so if by chance i win, contact me at tattoodmary@gmail.com or myspace.com/marebearburkey

Sunshyne said...

Luckily, we haven't had to deal with bullying yet and my daughter is 8 now. Though we do have talks about it (walking away is what we have come up with) and luckily her school has done a lot of education on bullying and has a "zero tolerance" attitude on bullying, with posters in the hallway and a week dedicated to it during the year.

Shannon said...

Bullies are usually bullies because they have major self-esteem issues. When it comes to verbal bullying, I just tell my kids to ignore it, because it's not about them, it's about the bullies trying to make themselves feel better by picking on others.
We haven't had any real physical bullying issues yet, but my advice would be to ignore it and walk away. That is, unless it gets out of hand- then the gloves are off!

ewe are here said...

I actually agree with you on this one. My boys are *big* for their age, and I've always been clear that they're not to hit and push because I'm afraid they'll hurt somebody. But I also think they have the right to defend themselves, and plan to teach them a similar lesson.

Mama D said...

I was one of the bullied kids growing up. Never anything physical, but I spent a lot of my time running from situations and being scared of people. I plan on teaching my kids to fight back, but not necessarily with fists (although they'll certainly learn that, too). One day, I finally learned that what I said back to the bullies typically took care of a problem. Being the smarter one in the situation was the best way to stop being afraid.

ChristineK said...

We're teaching that the first thing to do is to tell the bully to stop. Walk away, if you can. Talk to an adult. Finally, if the bully starts a fight, then our children are allowed to finish it.

We'll be signing the kids up for self-defense/karate lessons this summer so that they'll be able to protect themselves, if needed. Bullies tend to wait until there are no adults around, so I think being able to defend themselves is important.

Charity Donovan said...

We've already had to deal with this issue once when Aidan had an "unstable" child on his bus. I'm usually the parent that teaches my children to walk away but in this particular situation I had to get involved. I called the school & had to have this particular child/nutcase assigned to a seat behind the bus driver. Sometimes you have to be the voice your child doesn't have.

The Absence of Alternatives said...

I believe I have said I have a crush on your wife. I do I do!

Question for you since I think about this often: having all boys, would you ever tell your sons the rule that under no circumstances are they to punch a woman back?

@DaDa_Rocks said...

I'm very different from my wife - she will say walk away... I'll say kick them in their nuts and they'll never bully you again! Lucky for us we aren't there yet and haven't even thought about it.

dada [at] dadarocks.com

Janet said...

Hope it isn't too late to enter but...when I was younger (middle school aged) I was VERY frequently the target of bullies-after all I was smart and had a home perm and I wore orange glasses. I was in "gifted" classes-it was just going to happen. I guess what got me through was my mom telling me that no matter what, when I was older this would go away. That adults don't do things like this and do you know what? She was right ;) Now I'm the smart, successful one and I can bully all the idiots who made fun of me-just kidding.

Brandi said...

I hope my children never know what it is like to be bullied, or worse yet to be on the bullying end. We will teach them peace, and to walk away. We will teach them to exhaust every avenue. But when there is no other choice, we will teach them to fight back.

Mami2jcn said...

My kids are very young and haven't had to deal with bullying, but I remember being teased myself when I was in school. I did my best to turn the other cheek. I never felt physically threatened because I was the tallest in my class, but my feelings got hurt quite often.

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

kittenpie said...

I"m with you here - you need to know both. You need to know that fighting is not the answer and to use words, to try to walk away, and so on, but you also need to know how not the get the snot beat out of you if you're stuck with the situation.

Sara C said...

We are firm believers in the teaching your children when to be the bigger person and just walk away...that being a person of intergity and character is so much more important than what any bully thinks

Kristi said...

Have stalked you for a while but wanted to say "THANKS" for sharing your life and stories with us. Good for you for getting paid for writing .... you do it well. Don't ever apologize for getting paid for people coming to your website ...
We should all be so lucky .... or shut up.

And I agree with Lauren .... if you are gonna hit do it right. And glad you let her teach the boys how to do it right.

Thanks for the many grins,
Kristi