“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
My eight-year-old son had an altercation at school last week that left us feeling deflated as a family. He came home from school with a swollen, bloody lip because a boy punched him in the face at recess. Remaining calm and focused was immensely important as I listened attentively to what my son said that afternoon. As a parent, teacher or health care worker, it is important to listen, stay focused, and remain calm when talking about bullying or altercations with a little one. Once we moved past the fact that he would heal physically and there was no long term damage to his lip… we then began discussing his emotional health and spirit. We talked as a family about the confusion he was feeling, the hurt, the sadness, and the next steps.
It’s important to remember that when your little one has an altercation with another little, or is the victim of a bullying situation, to realize that there IS a little one deep within the offender. Although it is never acceptable to express anger with your fists or use another little one as a target; it is important to take note how that little may not know of any other way to express themselves. Let’s encourage our littles to express themselves effectively and know that it is okay to be a sensitive, feeling little human being. Dealing with a bully or an altercation may erode a little’s confidence. To help them restore confidence, encourage your littles to spend time with friends and family who have a positive influence on them. Participate in clubs, sports, or other enjoyable activities that build strength and positive friendships.
As much as I was upset about the situation with my son, I was proud. So proud of him. He never thought, for one tiny second, that he should hit back. He knows his best defense is his mind. He has never been taught to use his fists to defend himself; he’s been taught to use his words. He knows if he made the choice to fight back, it may escalate the situation and solve nothing. Nothing. He knows that that little boy must be struggling if he is showing that much anger. Provide a listening ear about difficult situations, but encourage your kids to also tell you about the good parts of their day, and listen equally attentively. Make sure they know you believe in them and that you’ll do what you can to address any bullying that occurs.
And lastly, as we snuggled together that evening, we forgave the other boy. We forgave him for physically hurting my son, we forgave him for hurting our spirit as a family, and we forgave him as he must be hurting inside. We took a deep breath, in and out, in and out, and focused on the good. There is goodness in the world. And it starts at home. With you. With us. With our littles. Let our littles shine bright. Encourage them to embrace, forgive, and persevere. Encourage them to lead. Encourage them to be kind. Just be kind.
– Jessica Smith, B.S.