This book - The Watermelon Shield - is gold! If you are looking for something to help those targeted by bullies, this is the book for you!
It was sent to me by the authors - Rose and Hope McCallum, and is their real-life story of solving their bullying problem and finding peace again.
It does an excellent job of teaching how to stay strong and kind... And gives a creative way for our kids to shield themselves from all hurtful comments.
When Hope was 8, she decided to write this book so that other kids could ward of bullies too.
My 4 year old has been reading it on repeat for 2 weeks - but it would be an effective book to read for kids up to grade 7.
The little peanut reading in the photo is my 2 year old daughter. Although she and her twin brother didn't understand the concept, the images are so realistic that they both have been pointing out the characters emotions (which is excellent to develop their compassion!)
You can get a copy at: www.thewatermelonshield.ca
Remember with kindness also needs to come strength.
Some of us (ahem, finger pointing towards myself) believe that true kindness comes at the expense of our own needs.
But, we know how this plays out: building resentments, exhaustion, compassion fatigue.
True kindness is boundaried, and honest, and gentle with all those around us (and it HAS to include ourselves too!)
So, get out there, be a little kinder than you were yesterday. And, if that means looping yourself into some kindness, throw in some self-care or self-compassion so that you receive too!
This is what strong and kind looks like.
Why does this matter? Feeling "strong and kind" is what my clients embody to stop cycles of bullying and abuse in their lives.
Abuse and bullying obviously makes us scared. When afraid - many people fight, or flight... But, there is a Third Way. People who can stand tall and act in a compassionate manner shows strength. And when we're strong, abusive relationships crumble away.
Why? When we are boundaried and still compassionate, we give nothing to someone who is bullying. The "fix" of power they feel when we show fear doesn't exist any more. So, the bullying ends.
The amazing news is that from this perspective - any person can get out toxic relationships because at our core, we are ALL strong and kind.
If you are stuck - try finding that side of yourself. You might have a way to get there - through physical activity, meditation, prayer, time in nature, by doing some form of art...
When you find it - then, take a pen and paper and brainstorm some actions or responses you could choose when that person harms you. Don't filter yourself.
You'll know when you have the answer. You will laugh, or sit up taller, and, generally feel great!
Double check that your action isn't weak or vindictive in any way... These responses continue the abuse. You want the answer to be STRONG and KIND.
Then, practice! Make sure that your answer flows easily!
And, if you try all of this and can't get there - reach out to me. This is the process that I use to help people step out of bullying cycles, and would love to help you feel calmer, happier, and more in control of your life!
Reaching out for help can feel so hard. Many people who are bullied, or who are bullying, are frozen in fear. I know that you are likely terrified that doing ANYTHING will make the situation worse. The good news about my methods? Unless I'm worried about your safety, YOU are 100% in charge. You brainstorm solutions. You pick the right one. We then create a detailed plan - and only you decide if we will take any actions.
The goal? To help you find you again... I want you to be strong, but I want you to remain deeply kind. Why? Because this will not only end your bullying abuse, but, help you return back to yourself again.
Maybe a safe first step might be to send me a message to set up a quick Discovery Call. We'll chat for 20 minutes - you can learn more about me, and I can learn a bit more about you. Then, you can take some time to decide whether it's time to act.
I'm here for you!
I don't hide my sadness from my children.
Can that make them feel uncomfortable? Sure. It is off-putting when anyone is emoting - especially parents who are often stable and calm.
To help them through this discomfort, my husband and I teach them how to soothe someone who is feeling low.
The messaging is clear "it's not your job to make mummy feel better, but, we can soothe her while her emotions make their way through". We then ask them if they would like to give a hug, have a snuggle, or give a soft a blanket or stuffy.
Doing this gives them tools to handle not only our emotions, but their friends, classmates, and other adults that they encounter.
It also teaches them that feelings are normal, and the method of handling them is to feel them, and take care of yourself through the process.
Today? Well, I was feeling sad because my father-in-law had died, and I just really wanted to see him. My eldest brought me a stuffy, and the twins followed suit with every plush animal in the house.
But also such a relief. It is easier NOT to pretend to be calm and strong all the time.
And for my kids? They learn that emotions are normal. They learn how to react lovingly to other people when they are low. This type of response is then normalized, and, hopefully played out in the schoolyard.
If this isn't an antidote to bullying, I'm not sure what is!
Kathleen is an anti-bullying specialist, a conflict coach, a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend...