This is a hot topic for many, and has been an experience we have had repeatedly over the years. So I am going to describe what has finally worked for our son in hopes that it may help someone else.
A few years ago our son was coming home nearly every day from school angry. Really angry. Although it took several weeks to find out what the problem was, it came down to a few boys in his class were making fun of him and taking pot shots at him at every turn. Just being downright mean. It was mostly due to his size. They knew if he fought back they could easily take him down, he was that much smaller.
We have taught our kids about making friends of your enemies and then you have no enemies.
He did try to be friends with them, and they would act like friends while others were around. Then when adults weren't around they would show their true colors.
After really struggling with this for nearly a month, I finally approached one of the other mothers in the class and asked if her son had experienced these issues. The year prior, her son and several others in the class had problems with these same boys and they came up with a solution.
This group of boys started completely ignoring them. They wouldn't respond to any comments the mean boys made. They also started eating together and bonding together. They would not give them any power or opportunity to be mean.
It wasn't long before the mean boys were feeling the loss of power and decided to start being nicer.
It didn't last long though, as we found the following school year. But now these nice boys knew how to handle it and then they included my son who was their new target.
It worked. He now had a new circle of nice friends which helped him feel included and these boys were all nice to each other.
They were not mean to the bullies. They just stuck together. The ate lunch together, played on the playground, talked to each other while walking to classes, etc.
Did it change the bullies? Not really. But it changed that power struggle and it changed how they felt about themselves because they now didn't need a weapon, they had each other.
There is something absolutely essential, I believe, in needing others. Even the most quiet, shy, or introverted type people do still need others. They just need others differently. Everyone needs to be loved and feel loved by a friend. That's basic. Look at how many horrific crimes have been committed by "loners." I honestly believe they didn't choose to be "loners", but they did feel very alone.
To be alone and have people picking on, teasing, belittling, or hurting you is awful. It is scarring.
It is also hard to know how to help. But there are those of our children who have the gift of being inclusive. Let's encourage that gift.
Let's help our children who are being bullied to find someone who won't hurt them and form a bond with others who are hurting. Most schools allow you to eat lunch with your child. That is a great time to get to know the classmates and see the pecking order. It can also be a good time to give your child a sense of strength (depending on the age) knowing that Mom/Dad loves them and wants to take some time to have lunch. You might want to run that idea by them first.
Then let's help them to rise above it, we don't want them bonding to do harm. There has been too much of that.
Let's also be honest. Do our kids bully anyone? Do they make fun of those who don't have their athletic prowess, social status, financial means, clothing, intelligence, or physical size or strength? Do we let them know that is not okay?
More and more I am seeing that kids have not been told by their parents that certain things are just not okay. They need to hear it!
And if your kids start acting differently find out why. I will never forget one day picking up my oldest from school and telling him to be really kind to his younger brother who came home really mad and I didn't know why. The first thing he said was, "Mom, he's probably being bullied. It makes you feel really mad inside." And sure enough, that was exactly the problem!!!
I realize that this problem has existed since Cain slew Abel. But we can find some ways to help our kids through it. If you have experienced this with your kids, post what worked. I will share it and maybe we can help a few kids feel not so alone.
And maybe, we can prevent some kid from doing something that gives him a sense of power, if only for a moment, that affects the lives of others.