THE BULLY by Crystal Horton

My daughter loves school. As soon as the alarm goes off, she’s up and ready within minutes. She can’t wait to start her day. Recess is her favorite activity. Over a three month period, we began noticing a change in her attitude. Her morning spunk disappeared. She argued when it was time to leave and some days she said she didn’t feel good, refusing to go to school. Sometimes during the day, she would call home wanting me to come get her. It was tough to recognize the signs, at first. Over a period of time, we began to recognize there was more to this.

We discovered my daughter was being bullied at school. It started with verbal abuse and then turned to physical abuse. She cried when it was time for bed and complained of feeling alone. She felt different from the rest of her peers and couldn’t understand why this was happening to her. She had troubles sleeping at night worrying about what the next day would bring. Her confidence dropped.

I didn’t know how to help my daughter heal, as I had similar worries. I stayed up at night wondering why this was happening to her and what I could do or say to help her. Why would a child push and kick another child? Where were the teachers when this happened? There were so many unanswered questions and I felt sad, angry and confused at the same time.

Helping my daughter process and understand what was happening during this time was heartbreaking. Love is expressed in many different ways. Unfortunately, love can be shown through bullying, because that’s how the “bully” is shown, love.

I met with her teacher, counselor, and principal, to bring awareness of what was happening and to ask for help. They provided me with information and ideas on how to guide my daughter. We also worked out a plan to help my daughter realize she’s not alone or powerless. As a team, we worked on bringing her confidence back and teaching her how to face her fears without having to push or kick back.

To build her confidence, each night before she went to bed I asked her to tell me three things she loved about herself. We discussed how everyone makes mistakes and we read books together that taught lessons about not taking things personally. We then signed her up for karate. The school counselor role played with my daughter on how to respond and what to do when she had to face her bully, who was in the same classroom.

It got to the point to where my daughter took a stand, looked her bully in the eyes and said with a stern voice “This is lame, let’s just be friends.” After a few weeks, she was back to normal. Teaching my daughter not to take things personally (sometimes very tough things) was uplifting for her. She was able to take a step back and view her situation from a different perspective. She went from feeling scared, alone and powerless to brave, calm and happy.

Below are 3 strategies that helped my husband and I guide my daughter

  1. Ask for help
    • Knowing we didn’t want to approach the situation by fighting back we searched for resources to help.
  2. Create a support team
    • The more we involved my daughter’s circle of influence the more she was able to flourish and feel empowered.
  3. Encourage problem-solving skills
    • Asking questions, reading books, role playing and karate lessons became great examples of how to guide my daughter to enhance her problem-solving skills.

Today my daughter is happier and my husband and I feel better. My hope is that our experience will help you or anyone else who is involved in a bullying situation.

Crystal Horton is the author of “Stretch Marks, A Mother’s Journey To Awareness.”

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