Have a Question? Need Parenting Advice? Ask Michael Hawton

Let’s not wait until they’re bullied to prepare our children for other’s meanness.

I think it’s interesting that when children are found to have been bullied we, of course, do what we can to stem the bullying behaviour. We also seek to remedy the hurt through counselling to help the child recover and become resilient.

What if we strengthened our children to cope with the high probability that they will face others meanness before they inevitably experience it?

What if we could help our children not only be resilient but also be not so fragile?

In the bullying world, of course, it’s not fair to blame the victim but, from what I’ve seen, a number of children are not being taught how to be strong in the high likelihood that other people will be mean towards them.

In a previous blog post, Not Every Act of Meanness is Bullying I had written about how someone’s meanness is not bullying.

Young children are often mean to one another, that is life. Two year olds are particularly mean to one another. Even ‘good’ two year olds are mean to one another. In fact, statistically speaking 2 year olds are the most aggressive, with aggression peaking at around two years of age.

Over time two year olds grow out of it as they get older. This is because they get better impulse control  (greater frustration tolerance) but also because their parents teach them more appropriate ways to react and they learn empathy.

We need to be teaching our children to be stronger in themselves, so that they can handle the high likelihood that life is going to be full of disagreements, people who behave badly towards them and people who are just downright mean.

This said, my point in this article is we should be helping our kids not get blown off their feet by others different opinion or other people’s aggressiveness or meanness unkind behaviour.

The real question is how can we help children to not be scaredy cats, without being obnoxious? Or behaving poorly.

A bottom-line is that, we can’t legislate away randomness. As Nicholas Taleb says in his book Black Swans, life is going to present all of us with difficult days, weeks and months. Instead of trying to predict these challenging events we should build robustness to deal with them.

In preparing our children for life and difficulty and recovery, we need to build in them the capacity to be ‘anti-fragile’. How do we help them to develop resilience and coping skills so that they can draw from a toolbox of resilience skills when these moments will inevitably occur.

Waiting until the inevitable happens and then seeking out some kind of remediation by putting a psychological band aid on a child is closing the gate after the horse has bolted.

Parentshop’s new program, No Scaredy Cats, begins in Hobart in June. If you’re a parent and you want to find our more email communications@parentshop.com.au

If you are a professional and looking for No Scaredy Cats professional development workshop click here.


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