School has been back for a couple of weeks, the routines have been established (as much as any family can be organised, ha ha!), and the kids are making new friendships and solidifying old ones. Everything seems to be going well, then ‘BAM!’ your child is upset because of relationship issues at school. I’m not sure about you, but it sure brings up some memories for me.
The thing is, up and down relationships are a part of everyone’s life at some point. Most people think it’s a bad thing, but sometimes this, or even bullying, can lead to something positive.
I certainly was not a popular child when I grew up, in fact, quite the opposite. My childhood was day after day of tears due to severe bullying to the point I started playing with and helping the special needs kids. Then one day, one of the girls pushed me backwards down 12 stairs, and my teacher suggested that from now on I hang out in the classroom during lunch breaks and do jobs for her. I cleaned storerooms, did photocopying, and helped her do heaps of jobs. I was happier, and I found my role in the school. It was the beginning of my finding my role in life.
Unfortunately, in high school the bullying continued, one afternoon riding home from school, my front bike tyre came off over a speed hump because someone had undone the bolts. My mum was furious and told the Principal. Unfortunately, he couldn’t contend with all 1,200 students laughing at the situation in assembly the next day, and mocking me for months after!
I have so many stories that I laugh about now, but when I look back at those hurtful times, I realise how hard it must have been for my mum, as well as me.
I’d like to say that bullying hasn’t continued into my adulthood, but it has. The biggest thing about those of us who don’t fit in, and don’t follow the crowd, is that we receive a lot of rejection from others. Being different, standing out, and being true to your values comes at a high friendship cost, which is very few friends. But it means when you do make friends, they are great, lifelong confidants. And to me, that’s all you really need.
Bullying sucks, it really does, and in the digital age it is even scarier as at least I could go home from school, and the bullying stopped, and I got a break from it. Unfortunately, our kids these days often aren’t that lucky.
Thankfully, I have grown into a resilient person as a result of my experiences, and was lucky that from an early age, I realised I had my own special place in the world. But explaining to a child that they are special, when they just want to fit in, is truly difficult.
No matter how distressing their situations, these moments are where they will learn about who they are and develop into the person they will become. So, as much as it hurts to watch your kids go through it, all we can do is be there, offer advice, and teach them ways to fight their own battles.
Show your kids how even the most successful people have been through struggles and still got to where they are today. People from Oprah to Tony Robbins, Charlize Theron to Jim Carrey have all come out the other end. A tough childhood is not always a negative; it can ignite a fighting spirit, if we let it, that can lead us to do incredible things.
Something for us all to ponder.