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Most people think of October as “Pinktober”, but did you know it’s also National Bullying Prevention Month? Bullying is a huge issue in the United States today. October is dedicated to uniting communities and bringing awareness to this problem & now is the perfect time to talk to your children about bullying. Gone are the days when bullying solely consisted of having your lunch money swiped, having a “kick me” sign taped to your back, and being tripped in the hallway. Bullying now goes beyond just school and now extends into the cyber world and even kids so brave as to attack others at their own home..their safe place.
Meet The Author
Kathryn Hast has a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in writing and a Master’s degree in Education. She is from York, Pennsylvania, and currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband and two children. She has one dog named after a Beatles song, and one that barks at the television. Batty Betty is her second published children’s book, following her previous title Otis Grows.
Let’s face it – feeling “different” can be scary. It’s true as a kid, and it can even be true as an adult. In a world that seems to encourage us all to look, talk, think, and act the same and is in a constant state of comparison, how can we teach children from a young age that their differences are actually their strengths, not their weaknesses?
It all begins with what we show them and tell them, and a wonderful starting point for this important conversation is the engaging, beautifully illustrated new book Batty Betty by children’s author Kathryn Hast (LuJu Books). What sets this book apart from others in the stack is its storyline – which is purposeful, delightfully whimsical while also tackling tough subjects – as well as its lyrical style. Hast wanted to be sure it was just as fun for both parents and
children to read while illuminating ways to approach and tackle real and often difficult scenarios.
Bullying stems from the all-too-human need to feel included, approved of, loved. And inasmuch as the last three decades have cultivated awareness, resources, and training, it’s difficult to stomp out why it is that people bully others. We will never eradicate the fact that various children need an extra dose of support, that bullying makes them feel confident. However, we can try to minimize the cues they receive from us, the adults around them.
Bullying is a learned behavior. There are adult bullies of every size and stature, even now in 2017. Perhaps especially now, the rest of us must stretch ourselves, to appear bigger, wiser, and kinder. What follows is a brief list of Dos and Don’ts, coupled with some anecdotal lessons I’ve learned, as I try—like so many others—to shape my own children’s growth.
Tips From Kathryn Hast On Bullying
Do: Observe Other Children’s Talents
It’s easy to swoon over how well your own kid writes her name or completes a pirouette. But how often do we reflect on the talents of the other kids in their classroom or neighborhood?
“Boy, Darrian collected a lot of acorns today. He’s a pretty good finder, isn’t he?”
Do: Demonstrate Empathy
Similar to the previous point, this suggestion leans more toward acknowledging other people’s suffering. And remember: suffering for kids can be bee sting, a tantrum, a fight. Putting your son or daughter in the shoes of someone who had a bad day will help him or her do the same later, reflexively.
“Why do you think Francisco hit Grayson today? It’s hard to handle angry feelings, isn’t it?”
Do: Allow Imperfections in Yourself
I’m a near-forty, white, frizzy-haired, state employee who dances exactly like what you would expect. And although my moves invariably cause my husband to chuckle (knee-slap, whatever), I still get down something fierce to James Brown or De La Soul.
“Why did you say I’m sorry to that driver, Mommy?”
“Because it was my fault for pulling out in front of him. I wasn’t paying attention. I need to work on that.”
Don’t: Ignore Bullying When You See it
Perhaps most importantly, we need to acknowledge the sin for what it is when we see it. But consider the four points prior to this. We should never avoid discussing an example of bullying. We should name it, but we should also frame it. Because more love, albeit amorphous, is the only true solution to bullies in the first place. Contextualize the situation, as best as you can guess, and help your son or daughter recognize it for what it is: namely, unwelcome.