This week, my son’s been having a hard time at school. He’s being teased by other kids. Girls are sticking their tongues out at him and boys are hitting him and making fun of him behind his back. They think he’s weak, even calling him that to his face. They see him as being easy to walk all over. What they don’t realize is that there is a lion inside. And my son is doing everything he can to keep it under control.
My son said, “I work really hard to keep my anger inside, so when they say bad words I don’t fight back because I’m afraid that my anger will come out. The problem is, they’re taking advantage of me because of this”.
I believe my son is right. He knows what lies inside of him. Only those that live with him have seen this lion that has powerful strength and great might. The kids at school have no idea who they’re messing with. I admire my son’s deep desire to keep it together at school, that he recognizes that if he loses it, he’ll cause great harm to himself and others and he never wants that to happen.
But the downside of all this restraint is that he’s being targeted by kids that bully. He’s not fitting in. He even recognized that our own neighbor’s kid was being mean to him at school, just to be “cool”.
So what are we as parents to do? If we tell him to stand up for himself and fight back, his anger may get a foothold and take over, bringing a suspension or expulsion. But we can’t continue to let kids abuse him.
Because he’s still young, I’ve decided to be very involved in helping him in these situations. I’ve talked to other parents to ask them to keep their kids away from my son and I’ve discussed the bullying with our principal. I know I look like the annoying, over-protective mom, but I want my son to know that if he ever has a problem, he can come to me and if I can help, I will. I hope that as he gets bigger and struggles with peer issues in the future, he’ll know that I’ve always got his back.
Lets be honest here. We’ve all read the stories of what happens to some kids who face relentless bulling. Knowing that my son already struggles with depression, I know that there’s a dangerous combination brewing here. I need to protect my son in every way.
I just don’t always know how to do that.
How do I encourage my son to stand up for himself, when he himself knows that the line between control and losing it is so thin? How do I help my son navigate through peer relationships when things can go so very wrong?
Last night, my son asked if we could pray for the other kids to stop being mean to him. This breaks my heart. I wish I could fix this. I know that as my son grows, he’ll face many more peer challenges, but unlike his toddler years where a hug would fix anything, there’s little I can do to help.