It Takes a Village to Raise a Child
Helping the Neighborhood “Bully”

As parents often make difficult decisions when it comes to the behavior of not only our own children but that of their peers as well. What do we do when we are put in a tough spot by other peoples children? It can be a challenge to create a safe enough space where you can feel comfortable approaching the parents of said child.

Here are some thoughtful words from Maggie Reigh a childhood author, speaker and storyteller:

In order to create that safe space it requires that you come from curiosity rather than judgment with them… and that is an enormous step to take for most of us when we are still in protection mode with our child. Can you appreciate the strength and skills that your child is developing in learning to respond to this aggression, and then can you forgive the aggressive child for what he has done?

To me forgive means internally thanking someone “for giving” me the opportunity to… teach my child how to handle aggression, for example. Once you can forgive the child protection mode usually fades away and true curiosity about what life must be like for that child and his family can take center stage.

Listen to them and be sure to let them know that you are concerned for them and their children as well. “It’s important to me that we create together a safe and peaceful neighborhood for our children to grow up – for ALL of the children’s sake.”

If you are in a position to interact with the child directly use curiosity and your empathic listening with them when they are acting out. You can talk with the bully at a time when he is not acting out and remain curious about the emotions that are driving the behavior.

Keep your intention on coaching them to handle their frustration. (Frustration drives violence) Next time they strikes out at your child, step between the two and in a calm and soothing voice acknowledge that BOTH of them must be hurting. Your child, because he now has a sore arm, but also _______ (use their name) because you know something must be hurting them inside that they want to hurt others.

Your example creates a safe space for both parties where they can stop and express themselves if they want or they can go away and have something to think about. Perhaps you may even have created a model for the child to question not only their own behavior but that of their peers. To give a child the gift of perspective is truly one of great value.

One of the greatest things we can be afforded in life is to see through another’s eyes. It is where we learn empathy and begin to understand some of the larger things in the world. Today while talking with my step daughter about an incident on the playground she questioned why justice was not served. If so and so started it why is my brother getting in trouble? Our answer to her was a profound one… because someone has to stop and make the right choice.

I would like to teach my children that it can be them, that they can affect positive change in their world and hope that it will spread.