Raising Bully-Proof Children

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A friend of mine (a mom I met at a GOV event) has a dear 12 year old boy who stole my heart the first time I met him. He has dimples when he smiles, is rarely at a loss for something funny to say, cannot contain his energy, and genuinely cares for other people. I am convinced he is going to grow up to be a mighty man of God. But a while back he told me he was being bullied at school and that all of his friends tease him constantly. I watched the pain flicker across his face when he admitted this to me. I think the reason it’s so painful for him is because, like I mentioned, he is a genuinely caring person who makes an effort to help other people feel comfortable. He’s not perfect, but the fact that other kids could go out of their way to make him feel bad is probably baffling to him.

“Why would anyone purposefully be mean to you?” I thought as my friend’s son disclosed this information. I think this is the question most parents ask when they realize their child is being bullied. No one knows the exact answer to why kids pick on each other (sometimes to the point of serious damage), but one thing is certain: bullying is not about a flesh and blood battle. Especially when it comes to bullying, we need to keep in mind Ephesians 6:12:

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

What Ephesians 6:12 says should comfort us. Because the good news is, mom and dad, there is a lot you can do in the spiritual realm to help your child affected by a bully. This is where you can roll your sleeves up and DO something.

I’d like to propose a tactic parents can use to respond in the opposite spirit of bullying. It’s so simple you can do it with your child before he or she leaves for school or meets the bully at the playground. You ready for it? It’s speaking and praying words of blessing over your kids. It sounds simple, right? Yet it can have a profound effect. If kids know the truth about who they are in Christ, they won’t believe the lies other people say (implicitly or explicitly) about them. They won’t listen to Jill or Jimmy when they say things like “You’re stupid” or assume they are unworthy of friendship when they’re given the cold shoulder on the playground. Instead, they’ll remember the scriptures you read about them and who they are. They’ll remember your words of blessing spoken in love, and they’ll choose to believe those words instead of the negative ones coming from their peers.

Here is a list of scriptures to get you started. For more ideas an practical tips for blessing your kids, please check out Project Blessing. I think you’ll find incorporating scripture into your prayers for your children gets easier the more you practice. My suggestion is to pick a few key verses that speak most specifically to your child’s situation and start by praying those over him or her.

Scriptures about a person’s identity in Christ (AKA: who they are, really):

  • I am made in God’s image (Gen 1:27)
  • I am God’s child (Galatians 3:26)
  • Jesus loves me (John 15:9)
  • I am Jesus’ friend (John 15:15)
  • I will bear fruit for Christ (John 15:16)
  • The Lord delights in me (Psalm 149:4)
  • I am accepted into the body of Christ (Eph. 1:6)
  • God is not partial. He loves me just as much as He loves anyone else (Acts 10:34)
  • I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)
  • God is willing to forgive me (1 John 1:9)
  • My first priority is to please God, not other people (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
  • I am not condemned (Romans 8:1)
  • I don’t need to be afraid because God is with me (Isaiah 41:10)
  • God will never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:6)
  • I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • The Lord is my defender (Psalm 18:2)

Here is an example of how you can incorporate scripture into a prayer of blessing for your child being bullied:

Dear Lord, I pray your blood and hand of protection over (child’s name) heart, mind, and body today. Lord, I pray you would cause (child’s name) to know who he/she is in you and what you say about him/her. (Child’s name) is your child, Lord (Galatians 3:26), and he/she is very precious to you. You have made (child’s name) to have your mind (1 Cor. 2:16); you have made (child’s name) in your image (Gen. 1:27); and you are very proud of the man/woman (child’s name) is growing into. I pray you would help (child’s name) to feel your presence as he/she goes to school and interacts with the other children there. I ask you to help (child’s name) build good, healthy friendships that please you, Lord. Please protect (child’s name) if any negative words are spoken or actions taken toward him/her. I pray that you would help (child’s name) refuse to believe any lies from the enemy but choose instead to believe your word and what it says. I thank you, Lord, for sending (child’s name) to our family. We are blessed by (child’s name)’s presence. We’re so thankful for him/her. Lord, your word says you will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6), so I ask you please send your Holy Spirit with (child’s name) as he/she goes to school. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Click here for the printable version of this prayer and the verses.

It’s quick, it’s simple, and it is guaranteed to have a positive effect (Isaiah 55:11).

It’s a good idea to let your child read these scriptures (or read them to him/her) if they tell you of a bullying problem. Having your child read the scripture will show him or her that the things you are asking for in Jesus’ name are things we are instructed to ask for. It will also build their faith in God and help them to see how the Bible applies to our daily lives.

Another idea is to pray for God’s protection over your child while he or she is at school. Perhaps you know the hour your son or daughter shares a class with the bully. You could set an alarm to remind yourself to pray during this time. Another idea is to leave hand-written notes to your child in places where he or she will find them at school, like inside a pencil box, lunch bag, notebook, etc. These notes could include some of the scripture you prayed over him or her before leaving for school. They could also be quick notes of encouragement that say things like “Mom loves you!” “You are my favorite 8 year old!” “I can’t wait to see you when I get home!” “I hope you’re having a good day. I love you!”. My mom did this for me when I was going to school. What a bright note those were in the middle of an otherwise mundane or hard day!

The bottom line, mom and dad, is you want to counteract the negative messages your kids are receiving with positive messages. And if those positive messages come from scripture, they will have even more punch.

May the Lord equip you as you undergo this spiritual battle.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

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4 Steps To Equip Your Tween Against Bullying

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Recently our team conducted a session for 11-14 year olds and spent a section specifically addressing online bullying. Unfortunately this issue has become even more rampant since the wave of seemingly “consequentless anonymizers” like Snapchat have taken center stage.

In today’s anonymous world youth are encouraged to dissociate themselves with negative behavior and instead cling to their anonymous label that grants them access to the “waves of culture”. Instead of strength of character we see a growing epidemic of mean behavior amongst those that should be brothers and sisters. We’d like to share a few practical steps you can share with your tween to help them in bullying situations.

Step In

Oftentimes adults are somewhat in the dark about how prevalent this issue is in their tween or teen’s world. Step one to combat this is to step in to their world. The easiest way into the world of tweens is by connecting with your child in familiar non-threatening conversations. These conversations can be started with simple questions like “Who is your favorite person at school?” or “Who is the most popular?” Make an effort as these conversations progress to take note of your child’s reactions and responses. Even jot down the names they mention on your phone. It will mean a lot to your child when you are able to follow up and ask how their peers are by name and not just description.

Parents’ reactions to difficult situations will shape the way our kids relate their world to us. Kids often feel that they exist within two or more “worlds” and do their best to maintain a positive atmosphere in all of them. There is the school world, home world, and various game or online worlds that add to this. As a parent you need to be willing to step out into their other worlds. That may mean sitting in on a gaming session, asking for a tour of their Facebook or WhatsApp, or visiting them for lunch at school (if appropriate). Do whatever you need to in order to better understand where they live day to day.

Step Back

Try to always remember the old saying “hurt people hurt people”. It seems simple enough, but it is imperative to remember that the one hurting others is usually trying to cover their own wounds. By jumping into a situation too quickly you can re-victimize the participants and thus get yourself excommunicated from their world quite quickly. Remember to keep your cool in these situations and make a concentrated effort to examine the situation from an unbiased perspective. Lastly, be sure to involve leadership that knows both parties well in the conflict resolution stage.

Step Up

Tweens especially are in a time of transition. Amongst their peers many social roles are established simply by who is willing to step up. Encourage your children in leadership roles that compliment their personality. One of the slogans we use with the teens is “Don’t be afraid – be a friend”. This may be a good memory verse to share with your child if they find themselves involved in a bullying situation where they need to step up:

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Step Over (not on)

Once I saw a video on a nature channel about a mother bear and her cubs. I vividly remember the look in the mother’s eyes and body language when she realized the camera crew was stepping closer to her cubs. She had been grazing behind them comfortably, but seeing the possible danger she moved to step over her cubs and re-situate herself between them and the camera man. If you notice your child is the target of bullies, don’t be afraid to step between them and the bully to bring balance and protection to the situation.

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

This definition by Albert Einstein of insanity could easily be applied in this arena as well. We cannot continue moving in the same direction and stay in the same patterns but expect things to change. Sit down with your spouse and then with your tween and figure out as a team what steps you all need to take regarding your specific situation. Step one should always be to our knees in prayer as we seek first the Kingdom.

-Courtney Alberson

Courtney is Generation of Virtue’s lead solutions specialist. Which is a fancy way of saying she handles the team’s many IT needs and spends a lot of time in Photoshop. When she’s not finding solutions to problems, Courtney enjoys communicating God’s truth about love and relationships to teenagers and…drinking coffee.