My son is what some people would call “quirky.” He has always marched to his own drum. He makes up his own theme music. He does what he wants, even when it isn’t always what his friends do. Up until a few years ago, he never realized that his sensitivity and individuality was different from some of the other kids he knows until some of the neighborhood kids made him feel like he was different and that different was bad. My son was bullied to the point that he didn’t want to play outside anymore for fear the neighborhood kids would taunt him through the fence. He shied away from meeting new people, and as a parent, it was heartbreaking.
As a quirky person myself, I know what it is like to be bullied for being different. I was also chubby as a child and got picked on for that as well. I didn’t have a lot of confidence going into my teen years, and I developed an eating disorder as a way to cope, something I still struggle with. Seeing my son being hurt in the same way I was made me want to work that much harder to make sure that my kids knew that it was okay to be an individual and that while you might get picked on for having your own opinions and ideas, that confidence is especially important. My son has made huge leaps and strides in the past year or so, and something he told me the other day made me feel proud in the steps that he has made in being more comfortable in his skin.
The other day he was playing outside with a few of the neighborhood kids. A brother and sister taunted him, making fun of him and the fact that he is homeschooled. They called him “gay,” which is a word that we frown upon using in our house in a derogatory way. He brushed them off and told me that he felt sorry for them. Instead of feeding into their insults, he walked away from it. I was so proud to hear it.
As a parent, it angers me when I hear about other kids picking on my kids. When I see in the news the effects of bullying and kids that have hurt themselves because they have been hurt by others, it breaks my heart. This month is National Bullying Prevention Month, and in honor of it, I would love to hear what you do to help your kids have confidence and also your ideas to help prevent bullying. Have any of your kids been bullied or have you been bullied? How did you deal with it?
Please feel free to share in the comments below.