Let’s Make Kindness Cool

When your kid has a problem you just can’t fix

Let’s face it, we all want to be accepted. By our parents, by society and of course, by our friends. Abigail thought she had gotten just that when a classmate invited her to a playdate after school. Her mother agreed not only to allow her to go to her friend’s house, but to walk home with her classmate from the schoolyard. Not only was she getting a social boost, but some independence as well. As Abigail rushed to catch up with her friend, she realized that it was actually a trick and her classmate was running away from her. She was just seven years old and she was alone.

I am that little girl’s  mother.

There is nothing as heartbreaking as having your daughter bullied. I can do many things as a parent to help my daughter, but this is one problem where I can’t seem to find the answer.

My daughter has never had a problem making friends. In fact, she has always had a group around her. When I was pregnant, I took Lamaze and then stayed in touch with the mothers throughout the years. When Abigail started school, I took it upon myself to make friends with some of the other mothers and once again she had a group of buddies. Last year we moved to a new town and she started a new school. I remember checking up on her on her first day and she was standing alone in the schoolyard. My heart sank.

I see my daughter becoming anxious about going to school and withdrawn.

As the weeks went on I tried different things to help my daughter. Playdates, school involvement, talking to her classmates and yet, almost six months in, here we are. I see my daughter becoming anxious about going to school and withdrawn. She is starting to have a victim mentality where she says things like, “It’s okay, I know you don’t want to play with me.”

So now I’m preparing for Pink Shirt Day with mixed emotions. I love that we are taking a day to take a stand against bullying, but really the fight against bullying should be ongoing. From our actions as parents, our words against others and the way we allow our children to interact. As a parent do you encourage your children to look for kids who may be left out and include them? Do you ensure that everyone in the class gets a Valentine? Do you practice these things in your own life?

Would your child stand up to a bully? Is your child the bully?

It’s clear that bullying is still a problem. Pinkshirtday.ca reports that more than 75 percent of people say they have been bullied. Perhaps even worse? In 90 percent of those cases, one or more peers witnessed the incident-but not everyone intervenes. Would your child stand up to a bully? Is your child the bully?

No child is perfect and no parent is either. The problem with bullying is complex and affects one in five kids. Chances are, you know someone who was bullied or someone who is a bully. The last thing we want is to see our kids hurting, or for them to hurt someone else. This year instead of putting on a pink shirt and advocating for kindness one day, let’s make this a mindset. Let’s challenge our kids to stand up to bullies. Let’s look for ways to show kindness to strangers, neighbours and family members.

We can also give to others just be spreading this message of kindness. On February 28th, say something nice about another person online and add the message #PinkItForward. For each hashtag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, Coast Capital will donate $1 in support of bullying prevention programs in B.C. up to $30,000. #kindnesswins.

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson divides her time between writing her for the Parent Life Network and wrangling her three children that have lovingly helped her earn the title 'hot mess mom'.