We’ve worked with many bullied kids, and with just as many who did the bullying. They were often the same person. As part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, we’re continuing a series of reflections and tips that we’ve found helpful in parents’ efforts to curb bullying in their homes and in the world around them.
What if we viewed bullying the way Jesus the Christ viewed the aggressive pursuits of Saul the Pharisee? In the story, Jesus’ followers have been viciously ‘bullied’ by Saul. But instead of going after him with the penal code, Jesus is moved by love to go to Saul – with compassion and vision. Jesus recruits Saul to use his talents for good, for the proclaiming of the Gospel Saul had so vehemently bullied. Saul was so impacted by Jesus’ approach to the bullying that he changed his name to Paul, and became a zealot of Grace. Paul never bullied God’s son again!
What if, instead of defending and seeking “justice” when our kids get bullied, we helped our kids by offering a compassionate response to those who bully them? When our son got bullied, I asked him what he thought the other boy’s life was like. He said the boy plays video games all day long, his mom smokes and yells, and his dad never plays with him. So I called the boy’s dad and invited him down for a friendly game of father/son football. The boy was on my team and my son paired with the other dad. I did everything I knew how to do to affirm everyone and worked especially hard to encourage the boy who bullied. He never bullied my son again.
These are not absolute answers. But we cannot help but wonder — what if?
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Over the past few weeks we learned how effective natural impacts and logical consequences help children learn to make better choices. Today we conclude with Part 3 of our series on Consequences That Actually Work!
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With a strong focus on relationships, “restitution consequences” are a type of logical consequence administered when a child has mistreated someone. The goal is to find ways to help the offender “right the wrongs” while restoring the victim and the relationship. The message to the child is: “Your relationships are valuable. When you mess them up, it’s important to do your best to reconnect.”
For example, when our oldest son would get rough or aggressive with our daughter, we encouraged him to comfort her with kindness after hurting her. This oriented him immediately toward her, and her toward him.
Restitution consequences are radically different from traditional “punishments.” Punishing the offender usually breeds resentment and therefore more and craftier aggression toward the unpunished child. Restitution consequences encourage personal responsibility and usually end with one child feeling cared for and the other feeling caring.
© Jiri Vaclavek | Dreamstime.com
Valentine’s Day and anniversaries are often viewed as a barometer for our romantic relationship. But it’s NOT roses and romance a couple days a year that define a relationship — it’s the deep commitment to fight for connection no matter what.
— ROUND 1 —
Jim’s and my 25th anniversary evening was an adventure to say the least. It started out with 40 m.p.h. winds, which made our much-awaited evening on Lake Minnetonka more than a bit dicey in our little boat. We headed for land and made a wonderful camp fire.
Once we were finally settled, we asked each other this question: “What would be important in our relationship moving into our next 25 years?” And that led to some serious disagreement, our first in a long time. Tensions rose.
How could this be happening on our 25th anniversary night?! Why NOW!?