No parent wants their child to have to deal with mean friends, but it happens to our sweet children, unfortunately. You can help your child deal with mean friends in a positive and non-violent manner with a few precautions.
We Are Surrounded By Conflict
We are parents. Protectors of our precious children who we created or were blessed with in other ways in our lives. It is so painful to watch a child go through pain and suffering, especially when it’s inflicted on them by another child. The sad truth is, we can’t always be there to step in and help, especially if the child is at school all day long, getting bullied and feeling alone.
While I don’t recommend fighting our children’s battles for them, there is something we can do as parents to help guide our children and resolve some of these tensions that take over their lives in a negative way.
We can provide skills which our little ones can use when we are not around, and no they don’t involve karate moves and hitting!
*Although I am not against families taking self-defence classes together, it can be quite beneficial for bonding and family safety.
Conflict surrounds us. People who are mean, are just part of our daily lives and not everyone values kindness. You can really see this on social media, such as youtube comments, Facebook reactions and forum conversations that turn violent very very fast.
We need to learn how to deal with this conflict, and we need to learn these tactics early on in life and a good time to start learning how to deal with mean people, is at school.
*This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
*This information is for educational purposes only, if you need medical attention, please consult a physician.
What To Do When A Child Hits Another Child
Sometimes toddlers hit each other, and it can seem violent and make parents uneasy. Dealing with toddler hitting and “aggression” ( I really don’t like using aggression to describe toddlers, as it is an emotional regulation issue) is a whole other thing. Today, I want to focus on school aged children dealing with mean kids who hit.
Here are some things you can do, as a parent, to help your child deal with another child who is hitting them.
Be mindful of your own feelings
You may get really upset when you see or hear about the hitting, and get angry about the situation (which is totally understandable), however you have a job as a parent to keep those feelings in check.
Take a pause and notice what you feel so that you can respond in a calm and non reactive matter to the situation. Basically, you’ll need to be calm enough to self-regulate your emotions.
Try Not To Judge The Child Who Is Hitting
It’s so easy to say, that’s a bad kid and their parents obviously don’t raise them with good values. They are a bully and a mean girl, and they need to stay away from my precious baby who can do no wrong.
Wow, that WAS easy to say wasn’t it? But these types of labels and thoughts aren’t useful. Instead, we should try to reframe the situation and see if there is an underlying issue that can be solved with a little attention and care, rather than showing anger towards the hitting child.
You never know what is going on in their home, and while it is your child that is getting hit by the other child, the other child is also “just a child” and needs guidance and direction. We should try our best not to judge, not until we know more.
Respond to your child
When your child does open up to you about being hit at school or at a friends house, respond with kindness and understanding. If you have trouble getting your child to open up and talk to you about their life, try these conversation games for kids. Really helpful stuff.
The goal is to make our child feel seen, understood and comforted. We need to tune into their feelings.
Protecting other kids
It’s not a good idea to try and parent the other child who has hit our child. That is a recipe for disaster. If the parent is not around however, and you can step in to “break up” a fight, then by all means, do that. But if the fight is long finished, the hitting action has been done, then it is not your job to parent the other child about their actions.
You can have a calm discussion with the parent of the hitting child, but it’s a good idea to refrain from making comments of advice, and what you would do in this situation to parent the child. This is a good way to start some parent squabbles which you want to avoid.
Can you tell I’m a lover not a fighter? I’m very pro positive resolutions.
Correcting the child
Please do not correct the hitting child. This is the job of the parent, or the teacher. Your job is to parent your own child, and teach them how to handle these types of situations.
How To Help Your Child Deal With Mean Friends
Connect And Listen: It’s hard on kids when they encounter a mean friend, and it can be shocking to your child that there are mean people out there. A lot of children are sensitive and get their feelings hurt easily and it’s not easy trying to navigate the social part of recess and lunch hour at the school playground. Fortunately, our children are aware that home is a safe space, and parents are on their side. Children need parents to be there for them to talk about the stuff that bothers them. Your role here is to connect and listen, not run to fix the problem ourselves. Reserve the judgement and reaction, and show your children support and empathy.
Identify The Conflict: When you listen and connect with your child, you’ll be able to figure out what the conflict actually is. If you can identify the behavior in both your child and the “mean” child, you might be able to come up with a solution that is easy to implement right away.
Help Kids Find Real Friends: Redirection is a good tool when it comes to helping your children deal with uncomfortable situations and this situation is no different. Walking away from mean kids and not spending time with them, will minimize the opportunities of hitting and meanness. Encouraging your children to find new friends to spend their time with will help a lot. Bullies and mean kids like to target children who are alone, so if your child has a genuine friend, they will be stronger together. Help your child build those relationships by encouraging playdates or after school hangouts, and remind your child to seek out those friends during school breaks.
Teach Your Child To Ignore The Bully: Avoiding the mean child is easy to do if your child can try to find new friends to hang out with. Sometimes there is just no reasoning with mean kids, and avoiding them is the only thing you can do.
Build Confidence: Raising kids with confidence is a huge goal for most parents. We do not want to raise kids who are doormats and get walked all over. Our children should not be taking emotional or physical abuse of any kind, from anyone. They should stand up for themselves with confidence and assertiveness. We can teach our children to say “stop” “no” or “Knock it off” and this takes practice and can be overwhelming. This is why it’s a good idea to help your child find friends to spend time with, because there is safety in numbers.
Teach Your Child When It’s Time To Get Help: Dealing with conflict by yourself is a good idea, but there are times when that simply cannot happen. Help is available and children need to know that adults aren’t the bad guys here. Teaching our children the difference between telling and tattling can help them decide if the situation is worth reporting to an adult or not.
Talk To Teachers: If the situation is really bad. Talk to your school and advise them of what is going on. They may already be aware, or they may not have a clue. It really depends on the situation at hand. If the teachers are aware of the issue, they will be able to help your child stay on top of the resolution.
If Friends Are Really Mean And You Need More Help
If things get out of hand, and all of the above advice simply is not working, it is time to talk to the school counsellor and come up with a larger scale plan.
Taking care of our children’t mental health sometimes means stepping in. We want to prevent thoughts and actions of suicide, self harm and other poisonous activities from our sensitive babies who need our help and direction in every part of life for the first 16-18 years.
Here are some great resources on teen suicide, just in case you need a little extra help on this serious matter:
I don’t mean to scare you, that is not my intention. But as parents, we should be aware of the dangers of our children feeling low and badly about themselves because of a mean friend, and I feel that if you are here, reading these words, then you care deeply about your child and would do anything to ensure their safety and well being is taken care of.
Children are sensitive, and they don’t know how to deal with big feelings. I’m so glad you’re here reading these words, and I hope they help you navigate some difficult situaitons that you may be facing.
Remember I am not a parenting professional, just a mom who cares about her own children, and wanting to show other parents how I use positive parenting in my own life. Please, please contact a professional if you need professional level help with some of these difficult situations.