Fintan and the bully.
Fintan has recently started a new school. He is enjoying it and is making lots of friends. However, not everyone wants to be his friend. A couple of days ago, he told us a little tale of life at school.
"Daddy...today a bully came up to me and kicked me in the leg, for no reason."
I found the way he told of the incident very informative. He seemed genuinely puzzled that anyone, that he had never harmed, should wish to harm him. He had not encountered this kind of behaviour before.
"How did you respond?", I enquired, gently, hoping for one particular answer.
"I pushed him down to the ground.", he said, his gaze falling inward, to remember the moment.
"That's good.", I approved, for it was the kind of answer that I had hoped for.
So, Fintan, at six, has encountered his first bully - and, I think, bested him. You see Fintan did what the research on the effects of bullying says a child should do: fight back. It is the biggest mistake in the world, to tell a child to "turn the other cheek". You see if a child lets the bully get away with bullying, that child will never learn to assert themselves, to stand up for themselves, to face difficulties - they will always be hiding from them, and running from them. Fintan did the right thing - even if, I am sure, he did it in his own mild, slightly puzzled way.
Interestingly, the research I read recently says that children who fight back, when faced with bullying grow up to be much more socially competent than children who just hold in their response, and simmer away in resentment at the way they are being treated. The child who fights back, is much the more emotionally mature child. No doubt, there are other benefits, too. Perhaps next time that particular bully thinks of having a go at Fintan, he will pause and reflect that, the first time he tried it, didn't work out too well - and then pass on, and leave Fintan in peace.
So, my advice to Fintan, and any other kid who is bullied is simple: meet every hostility, with one of your own. In time, those who are trying to bully you, will just back off and leave you alone - and go off to pick on easier targets.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:
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