Entitlement and Responsibility
I was recently working with a new family during their initial evaluation session. During the anti-bullying portion of my introductory lesson the wonderful mother realized that her young teen daughter had been teased and treated meanly in school. I really felt for her as I saw her heart just drop with the discovery.
During the post evaluation debrief with her daughter out of the room, I shared with her she was not alone. I told her how common teasing, mean behavior and bullying were especially in the middle school years. I could feel the heaviness in her heart when she asked me “What can I do to keep my daughter from being bullied?”
I told her that was a very good question and wanted to share my answer to her with you.
I told her that while we will teach her child the specific techniques and tactics to keep her from being a victim, there are some things she could do as a parent.
First it would be helpful to review the techniques we teach. The key is developing a strong anti-bullying mindset and culture, along with a healthy self-esteem, self-confidence and courage. One way this is done is by repeating a few powerful words. Here is a quick overview:
1. “Should you ever let anyone hurt you? Should you ever let anyone hurt your feelings?”
2. “The adults stop the big stuff but I have to stop the small stuff.”
3. The Three Strike Procedure:
a. Strike one: “Jill, stop that! I would not do that to you!”
b. Strike two: “Jill, I already asked you once to stop. If you do it again I will have to report it!”
c. Strike Three: “Jill, I already asked you to stop twice. Now I will have to report it?” Never more than three strikes.
d. Reporting: “Ms. Smith, I don’t want to get Jill in trouble but she has been calling me names and it really hurts my feelings. I have asked her to stop three times. Could you help me please?!”
4. Once they can protect themselves they cannot help but protect others.
5. Bullies need two things to exist: Silence and Secrecy. When even just two kids in the silent majority speaks up the bullying stops.
But back to what YOU can do as a parent. In concert with what we teach them the most empowering and life-changing lessons you can teach your child are about “Entitlement” and “Responsibility”.
Entitlement: I bet your first response was “Entitlement? Isn’t that the problem with kids today?!” Well you are right. Many experts say instant gratification and a sense of being entitled is a problem for young people but the entitlement I am talking about is different and is the good version of entitlement.
You need to teach your child they are absolutely entitled to two things: 1.) A school, neighborhood and life where they are safe and free of mean treatment or bullying, and 2.) A school and teachers/staff where they can expect and receive a top education. (We will save #2 for another article!)
How can you do this? I always say the most valuable classroom is “your ride home”! During your ride home from the dojo turn off the radio. Put down the smartphone and video games. Take this weekly time to talk to your children!
What to say? First, get your child to trust and talk to you. How? The most important thing I can teach you as a parent, and especially as a parent of a teen, is how to “listen without judgment”. This is hard to do because you are a parent but if you judge your child will never talk to you. Parents are used to evaluating everything their child does or says, telling them it is right or wrong, good or bad. You have to learn to shut-up and just listen! Second, the most powerful technique to get your child to talk about bullying (and discover if your child is being bullied) is to talk to them in the third person. You could start by saying “Emma, have you ever seen other kids in school teased or treated meanly?” or “Have you ever seen any kids in school sitting by themselves at lunch or who others do not play with at recess?” While kids, especially boys, are reluctant to admit they are being bullied they are usually very willing to talk about others. But here is the startling part. Do not be surprised when while talking about what happens to others they are actually talking about what is happening to them.
So back to how you teach entitlement. Use discussions revolving around these subjects: 1.) No one, and absolutely no one, has the right to hurt you or your feelings, 2.) You absolutely have the right to a school, neighborhood and life without bullying or mean treatment, 3.) You have many, many adults and other kids around you that will stand up for you and protect you, and 4.) You were put on this earth because you are special and destine to be great – no one has the right to stop you from getting this. You are absolutely entitled to all the above!
(*This can be a touchy subject but you also need to make sure your home lives up to this culture and standard. While siblings will always have disagreements and conflicts, they should never be allowed to tease, bully or mistreat each other. An anti-bully and a kindness culture has to start at home. Also, watch out for that well-intended Uncle George that teases your kids in what he believes is a playful way.)
Responsibility: Again, use the car ride home to teach your child along with everything they are entitled to they also have the responsibility to make sure they are not being bullied or mistreated AND they also have the responsibility to make sure no one around them is bullied and mistreated. Two powerful things will happen. First, after standing up for themselves they cannot help but stand up for their friends. Second, often children may initially find it is easier to stand up for others than themselves. Finally, teach them that not only can they change the world but they have the obligation and responsibility to do so!
But remember the best way by far, to teach entitlement and responsibility to your child is to model it yourself! You need to be the change you want to see in your child and the world.
So in the next few weeks we will be reviewing our anti-bullying techniques so this is an opportune time to start teaching or reinforcing entitlement and responsibility with your children.
Let me know how it goes!
Thanks for being a part of this village, Sensei