For the past couple of weeks, we’ve covered two tips that can help prevent your daughter from being bullied. The first tip, decide if the assessment is true. Secondly, teach your daughter how to break up with the BFF (Bullying Best Friend). Today is the final and possibly most important tip to prevent your daughter from getting bullied.
Tip number three: Focus on your daughter’s response, not on changing the bully’s behavior.
I can hear it now:
“What are you saying Shanterra? Are you telling me to ignore this evil person that is causing my daughter grief?”
“Are you saying I’m supposed to do NOTHING about this girl that makes my daughter cry!?”
Absolutely not! I am suggesting that you invest your energy and emotion into your daughter, the person in your home, with whom you have influence. Don’t waste your energy focusing on the girl who is making your daughter miserable.
This is extremely important to understand. Your daughter is in your home and you have influence with her. This is not to say that the girl who is making your daughter cry does not need to be talked to. There should certainly be a meeting scheduled with the parents of the girl. This meeting should not be between you and the child only, but with her parents as well. Why? Because you are not her parent. I know, I know, it takes a whole village to raise a child, but you do not have that child’s best interest at heart. Your best interest is your daughter, which is completely fine and totally understandable.
I suggest focusing on your daughter because I’ve seen far too many parents go into I-must-rescue-my-cub-right-now mode which usually means tearing apart that other girl’s family, her upbringing, her looks, her intelligence, and even her mangy dog! None of this is helpful…even if it makes you feel better.
This means, when someone is mistreating your daughter, you nor your daughter react with behavior that is otherwise unlike you. This means, your daughter resists spreading a rumor about the BFF or retaliates by starting her own Snapchat or Twitter war. It means that your daughter still treats the perpetrator with dignity, which simply means treating her as a human being. Nothing more, nothing less.
And I know what you’re thinking. Won’t this show weakness? No, her not retaliating doesn’t make your daughter weak or a pushover. In fact, your daughter doesn’t lose anything by treating the BFF with dignity, and more importantly, your daughter’s self-worth increases because she feels STRONG. Sherri Gordon, a bullying prevention advocate agrees. In other words, worthiness is key to prevention!
Girls want to know HOW
So how do we do this? How do we get girls to focus on themselves and their self-worth, without feeding the self-involved, narcissistic, adolescent hunger already prevalent and NORMAL for their age group? It’s simple. We feed the self-involved, narcissist, adolescent hunger.
This past summer, I facilitated some powerful workshops with a group of middle school girls at an awesome girls’ leadership camp. We talked about the idea of being strong enough to stand up for yourself and strong enough to resist “the drama.” They all wanted to be able to speak up for themselves but admitted that it could be scary, especially if the other girl has more social power. One girl asked for something to repeat to herself. She felt like if she could say something over and over to herself, it would strengthen her. She wanted a mantra and I seriously had tears in my eyes. To see a young girl want a tool she could use to carry her throughout her day, to strengthen her, to motivate herself was truly amazing. All I could think was this is MARVELOUS!
And yes, I gave her and all of them, their mantra. This is what I can up with: Even though you don’t treat me with dignity, I will always treat you with dignity. Because I am who I am.
This mantra means I am going to be true to ME. I am important to ME. I like ME. I value ME. I love ME. They all loved IT! I wish you could have seen them writing it down with such intensity and belief. I should note, the last line (Because I am who I am) is the mantra for the camp, so the girls were already carrying that inside of them.
So, what does this do for the perpetrator, because I know you’re still thinking about that girl, right and how she hurt your baby? Well, the less that girl sees that she has power, the less power that girl has!
Again, there is no such thing as preventing your daughter and the daughters you love from being bullied. But there is a real value in focusing on your daughter and helping her see her self-worth. The self-worth is what you really want more than anything. Focusing on making sure this is healthy and strong within your daughter, instead of rallying to bring down the other person is where your value is. You EQUIP, ENCOURAGE, and INSPIRE her to know this is where you will focus on her and invest in her development and her character in order to build her up to be the marvelous girl she was born to be.