We all know the story of that boy who cried, "Wolf!"
In the end, there really was a problem and he didn't get the help he needed.
With so much emphasis on bullying these days, do we run the same risk?
If kids learn to take slight offenses too seriously or rely on authority figures to solve every small conflict, could that make things worse?
Of course, adults should step in when there is real danger, but there's another important piece: Teaching kids to be more-resilient, less-enticing targets. This can help adults separate the serious from the not-so-serious.
We encourage parents and teachers to empower kids - NOT to overreact to teasing and less-harmful testing that often occurs in peer relationships. Otherwise, like the boy who cried, "Wolf," real bullying may not get noticed and kids may not get help when they actually need it.
Adults should get involved when there is real harm or the threat of real harm. But all kids will encounter some mean people in life and will benefit from learning to handle it while they're young.
Role-playing responses can help kids handle name-calling and teasing:
Some kids put their hands in their pockets, smile, and say, "Hmm, I hadn't noticed that before. Thanks for letting me know."
Some kids say, "Oh, that reminds me… " and then move away like they just remembered something important.
Some kids make sure they are near adults when mean kids are on the prowl.
Prepared kids make less viable targets.
Let's all do our part, from modeling kindness, to providing good supervision and intervention when kids need help, to teaching kids how to get along and handle the small stuff.
Find more solutions to help kids learn how to deal with the issues of teasing and bullying in Sally Ogden's book, "Words Will Never Hurt Me."
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.