Graves: Are you the reason your child was bullied?

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, January 9, 2019

All children need involvement in activities, but for special needs children, it is doubly important.

The prevalence of bullying of special needs children leaves us thinking any benefit is lost to pain.

Our children will face difficulties and mean-spirited people throughout life. The world will not conform to our child. Fair or not, our children must learn to conform to the world. If we don’t teach them how to navigate difficult situations, we have failed as parents.

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The problem is the only way to obtain the skills is experience.

Our children must find themselves in hurtful, confusing and disappointing situations to learn how to escape with self-esteem intact.

As parents, that’s an oxymoron. Our hearts desire our kids to never hurt. Still, it is only in those awful situations we and our children shine or our mental state becomes worse than their physical disability.

When we leave our children in the hands of another adult, we trust the adult’s judgment.

If your child relays negative information about the adult or other children, talk it out with your child first.

Often it is the inability of a special needs child to process or correctly judge a situation that is the problem. If a legitimate concern arises, always go to the adult in charge.

Approach the situation as a detective collecting facts not a hammer seeing only nails. There is a wealth of information to which we are not yet privy.

For example, we hear a drama teacher say, “I will not let you embarrass yourself.” That makes our mom feathers alert like a peacock. What we don’t know is the child bungled a smaller performance months ago. Despite it being a small slip, it embarrassed them.

The teacher reminded them the problem was goofing off in practice. Never wanting a repeat of that embarrassment, the child makes the teacher promise to tell them of a potential embarrassment on the horizon. That context flips our original thought on its head.   

Calmly speaking to the adult in charge will always trump unleashing negative thoughts on our children.

Children parrot what we say. So, when daddy fills baby girl’s head with insulting language like, “If they don’t do what you say, call me. We are the only ones ever on time. You’re in charge cause you’re the star. You don’t have to be in this stupid place after this. They need you, you don’t need them.” It will come out of her mouth in her tones and words to anger her peers. That is not teaching her to stand up for herself. That is painting a target on her back.

When our behavior as parents goes off the rails and we seek to release our emotions over a teaching moment, we do a disastrous disservice to our children.

Because we choose to fulfill our emotions rather than employ problem-solving skills, we validate the negative thoughts aimed at our child. It is in that moment our child’s greatest disability isn’t autism, anxiety, ADD, etc. It is us.

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