Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Words are powerful

I just watched one of those after school special movies called "cyber bully" and it has me ruminating on the awesome power of words.

I work at an elementary school and it's tattle tale central. The first thing I always ask the kids that come to complain is "did you ask him to stop and explain why?" they always say yes but they almost never have. Kids seem to be unable to explain why they want actions or words to stop. It comes up with my own kids on a daily basis, soooooo much whining happens that ive become numb to it. we have virtually the same rules for bullying and being the bully.

The bullied child needs to clearly and firmly ask the other child to stop and explain why they don't like the words/actions. The bully needs to apologize and say what they're sorry for and how they plan to change their actions. Despite the fact that my twins are 8 I still need to explain this process every single time.

All of this is great in theory but in reality I live in the land of tattle tales with all the whinies of whinytown making appearances much to regularly.

In the movie the bullied child went to a support group where they taught the value of standing up for yourself. The kids in the group seemed surprised at this suggestion and doubtful of if it could work. They didn't understand that their words could have power.

This got me thinking about how my own kids would handle those sorts of situations and what example I set.

I am mostly a turn the other cheek or ignore the problem sort of girl. I worry that I'm too sensitive or convince myself it's not that important so I just let it go. While this may be the responsible thing in the adult world I think it might not be benefitting my kids in their world.

It's a fine line of when to speak up and when to let go. I want my kids to fight their own battles and make their own mistakes but I also want to be sensitive to the fact that they're young and need guidance and examples.

Yesterday was a prime example. We went to the pool and my kids lined up to jump off the diving board. There were10-12 kids in line ranging from age 6-16. It was all fine for a few times through and then one of the older kids jumped off and stayed in the water (it was super windy and the kids in line were freezing their butts off). Right before my sons turn the kid jumped out and joined his friend in line right in front of my son. My son didn't say anything. The friend in line quietly said to his friend "you shouldn't do that, all those kids have been waiting." the older boy ignored him. The lifeguard didn't say anything. The older kid got on the board to jump and for whatever reason I went at him. The shrieking mother in me came out.

"hey kid!"

- no acknowledgement

"hey you on the board!"

-walks forward slowly still ignoring shouts

"hey, you in the plaid shorts. It's not your turn!"

- turns and stares at me blankly

"yeah you. You know It's not your turn? All these kids have been waiting patiently in line!"

- still staring at me blankly

"how about you set a good example and show all these younger kids how to wait your turn in line?"

-mumbles ok and shuffles to the end of the line where his friend quickly says"I told you!"

Of all the silly things to get riled up about And I was shaking a bit after, I am not a natural confronter. The lifeguard never did say a word.

We talked about it at dinner as I told my husband I had probably embarrassed our kids for life. He asked the kids to explain and Larry (who was the one the kid cut in front of) said "oh, mommy yelled at a boy for cutting." my husband asked why he didn't say anything and Larry said " it didn't really matter and his friend was saving his spot." curly chimed in "but mommy told the boy he should show us all a good example of waiting in line." and then he proceeded to laugh and laugh and laugh. Apparently they weren't horribly embarrassed or scarred for life. Can't believe I'd have to be even louder, guess they have thick skins.

I was feeling a little sheepish but after watching the movie today I am reminded that I am here to be an example for my children and that I do need to speak up. (but I need to remember to do it kindly and maybe a little more quietly)

1 comment:

  1. still liked that you explained to the boy & all why you were upset