As a mother, I am always seeking new ways to encourage my family in this busy world. I discovered that two of my children were being bullied, though they told me they were “fine.” Research shows that over 60 percent of kids who experience bullying never confide in anyone. Where do we start to gain our children’s trust to confide in us when they experience challenges in their lives?
I want this to change for all families, whether their child is the target of bullying, the bully or the bystander who fails to speak up. When I speak to parents and kids around the country, we talk about how sometimes a cry for love is buried within the bully’s actions. My son had an incident with a teen who had sprayed a toxic spray into his face. At the exact moment that I was speaking to the principal about this incident, the teen who had sprayed my son was on the football field under the bleachers crying because a group of boys were taunting and teasing him. I later learned that this young man’s parents had no idea that their son was bullying or being bullied by others. In that moment my heart opened to a new understanding.
If we want to collectively experience peace in the world, we must begin in our homes. We need to create a safe place for our children to confide in us no matter what is going on in their lives. I realized one night as I laid my head on my pillow that I was longing to connect with my growing children. It was so much easier to have meaningful connections when they were younger.
As my children get older, life seems to be speeding up — some days I just want the carrousel to slow down so I can experience more connected moments with my children. I longed for those heart-to-heart connections where we both knew we had been seen, heard and loved unconditionally.
I moved into action to create a way that our family could build moments that matter into our day. I needed them to be as easy as sharing a cup of hot cocoa together. My husband and I started by making a commitment to give each of our kids three hugs every day. Instead of going our separate ways after dinner, we go for a short walk together. We each talk about something good that had happened to us that day. We draw pictures and handwritten notes that we share with each other. When we work to establish a firm foundation through daily heart-to-heart connection with our kids, they feel more secure about sharing their challenges with us when they arise.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the slogan is “The End of Bullying begins with You.” Truly, the end of bullying begins with you and me and our children in our homes. What is a cup of hot cocoa moment that you can share with your children today? ©TracyJNicholas2015
For more information on National Bullying Prevention Month, visit http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/.