“A girl in school said that she didn’t like me today. She said that my clothes weren’t cool, and that she didn’t want to be my friend. She isn’t inviting me to her birthday party.”
Hearing those words from the mouth of my five year old brought to life my worst nightmare. Bullies.
My initial response was anger—though I didn’t express it to my child. Inside? I was fuming. Who did this little girl think she was saying these horrible things to my daughter? She must have awful parents. She must be a bully in the making, and she must need to be stopped! My mind swam with questions.
Should I speak to the teacher first? Would a conference with the parents be necessary? Did I need to involve the principal?
And then, a single thought crossed my mind: Was I overreacting?
I suddenly remembered overhearing my daughter saying a snarky comment to a family friend. I immediately instructed her to apologize, and I reinforced that this type of behavior would not be tolerated. My sweet girl I’d spent so much time teaching had been rude—just like the little girl in her class.
Not every instance of misbehaving or acting inappropriately is bullying.
While all these thoughts sped through my head, my five year old patiently studied my face. I carefully considered my next words.
“That wasn’t a very nice thing to say,” I began. “What do you think caused her to be unkind?”
My daughter explained how everyone in her class had admired her new sparkly shoes at recess. While her classmates crowded around her, the girl in question made her comments.
I deflated, anger diminishing. Of course—she’d been jealous. I used the opportunity to tell me daughter why jealousy can be damaging, and gave her ideas for a better response the next time something happened: “I’m sorry you feel that way. I like my clothes, and I think yours are cool too! I would like to be your friend, but if you don’t want to be mine I respect your decision.”
My daughter nodded and smiled, glad I’d stopped to listen, and ran off to play
Me? I was glad I didn’t overreact. How do you teach your children to manage jealousy and insecurity?