When my daughter first started kindergarten I was taken aback with the concept of bullies at this age. I thought kindergarten was a little pre-mature to start the heckling but then I realized that "mean girls" didn't just exist in high school. Within a month I started seeing anxiety and fear wash over her sweet face every morning as I dropped her off at school.
I was torn between the two ideas that 1) kids need to learn some thick skin and tough it out or 2) bully behavior is never a positive socialization experience (which honestly, it's not).
We battled this problem all year long and it started to tugged at my heart. Okay, really it felt like it was ripping it out. I was brought back to memories of when I was a young girl, still in elementary and was oh so worried about what I was wearing and being so intimidated by the popular girl... in 4th grade!
That anxiety was crippling and the thought of my already sensitive daughter having to endure this felt shitty!
Then there was that one day. It was before a Girl Scouts meeting and I was setting up the activities as we started to discuss her concerns about THAT girl in her class. That is when I told her this...
"It's not about you, it's about them."
"No matter how hard it is to believe that, you have to know that it has nothing to do with you"
"Do you know why people bully and tease?"
"People only try to hurt another person because there is something inside of them that makes them unhappy. There is something so sad that they need to hurt another person to make themselves feel better."
"Sometimes they wish they could have what you have, sometimes they wish they could feel loved like you feel loved. Bullying is NEVER okay but maybe you can try and be the better person and find out why they are sad."
I'll admit, this is not the normal way I feel about these situations and the thought of someone intentionally trying to hurt my kids does bring out the Mama bear in me.
What I saw from her reaction is that she totally got it. She totally understood and it took the teasing away from her. It took the anxiety and self-doubt out of her mind and brought a sense of confidence.
She realized it wasn't about her and it wasn't because she was less than. It wasn't personal even though it seems so personal.
She smiled and looked comforted.
She looked me in the eyes and said "Mommy, I love you" in a sweet soft voice.