July 31, 2012

Could empathy be the answer?

A fellow mom I know had to help her daughter shave her armpits for the first time.  Did I mention her daughter is five years old?  Now before you start thinking this is some wacky toddlers and tiaras scenario, the mother did this because her daughter was being teased by other girls and in turn did not want to participate in summer school swim days.

These girls are FIVE.  FIVE!  I can't believe that bullying is starting so young.  This is kindergarten age.

I know if I had been in the same position and my daughter was coming home in tears over something like a few armpit hairs, yeah I'd probably help her shave it.

But I know that won't fix the problem. What does giving in to bullies really do?  They'll probably just find something else to tease her about and the vicious cycle would continue.

So what is the answer? Especially when we are talking about kids as young as five years old?

Should I teach her to fight? Maybe teach her a few choice words to say that will cut the girls to the bone?  Believe me, I know some.

It may feel good in the moment, but I know that would only feed the beast.

And this bullying really needs to stop.

What I feel is  missing from all the lessons parents teach their kids is a little empathy.

 When someone makes my child sad, I ask her:
  How does it feel when you're called a baby?  How does it feel when your best friend ditches you for bigger kids?

Of course she says it doesn't feel good.

And that is when I tell her to remember THAT feeling the next time she thinks about being mean to someone else.

Because maybe if kids are taught to recognize how awful it feels to be bullied, they'll stop and think before they say something hurtful to someone else.

But it will take a parent's guidance to make this happen.  So how about it parents?

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