Whenever I bring up homeschooling to people opposed to it, the #1 argument I get is that my children will be lacking because they won’t be exposed to bullies. I was told recently, “Well I worry if they are never exposed to bullies in their youth and then they encounter it as adults and they commit suicide.” Whew. That’s quite the accusation. What can I do to rectify this situation?
Well I do what any good homeschool mom does, I look for curriculum. Here is my quest to find a Bully Curriculum for my homeschooled children.
When you look through books on the free market about how to handle conflict, it’s always about “empathy” and “problem solving” and “conflict resolution.” A bunch of psycho babble nonsense, really. Well, I mean, I, well … I use all the stuff. I mean, it plain works. When my kids break out in a fight, I take a deep breath in, step in, start talking about what I see and what each kid seems to be doing, and ask “how can I help?” We do things like figure out solutions so everyone’s needs are satisfied. I physically restrain my kids when they are violent, and tell them it’s Ok to be angry but not OK to hit, and I need to keep everyone safe and help them with their bodies until they can learn to do it on their own.
Many of the books talk about how to handle situations not in your own house, such as playground scuff ups. If Susy and Sally are fighting over a swing, mom can empathize with her child about how hard it was to get in a fight, wait for the emotions to fizzle out, then raise her awareness of the situation (“Maybe Sally only went to get her coat for a moment”), and offer some solutions that Susy can use next time. It’s not rescuing or refereeing but passing on life skills for what will be the majority of social interactions in their life.
But scuff ups between Susy and Sally over a swing is not what is meant, is it? No, we need bullies. Children need to be put in violent situations with no adults or training whatsoever. This is the real world, kids. And the free market has no such curriculum, so it looks like I need to design my own.
So, what is a classic situation to put my kids in? Let’s try to replicate a public school, where my children might be thrown together with children from rough families.
How about a situation where someone steals their lunch money. Well my kids eat at home, usually, so I will have to arrange this.
I’ve got it. I arrange for some children to surprise my kids while out and rob them!
But, wait … would … would the police be involved in that? Well, I mean, if someone actually robbed my kid, the police would be involved. I think if someone found out this arrangement that I did, I may get hauled off to jail. I mean, I don’t know, usually some higher authority gets involved in these situations. Well, unless it’s children, of course.
I don’t know. Hmmm, what could I do? Arrange someone to punch my kids in the nose? Humiliate them for loving to learn? I don’t know. Most situations that I envision end with me going to jail.
Ok, I’ve got it. Another one. A nasty rumor spreads about one of my kids. This happened to me when I was in 8th grade. In reading through the books now, I see that giving your children exact definitions of sexual terms at young ages is a really good thing to do, otherwise they may talk about it with friends, in an attempt to learn the terms, but then get vicious rumors spread about them. Check and check for what happened to me. I suffered soul crushing embarrassment for an entire year to the point I almost transferred school. Look at me now! I “turned out fine.” Well, I agree I am fairly awesome, but no, no, no …. not much good came out of this. It’s painful and studies show that bullying has negative effects even into adulthood. Our guidance counselor brought me and another girl into the office and made us apologize to each other. That was confusing as ever. I remember however that two years later the girl wrote me a long note of apology and I accepted it. It’s kind of cool how kids work things out, can see right from wrong, and are generally awesome. It kind of sucks how adults involved typically handle it.
Here is an actual serious solution (in addition to the ones I peppered this article with above): A class on how to deal with violence and bullies. There is only one I know of, called RadKids. It teaches children to trust their gut and make a huge scene if any adult threatens them. It promises to teach about how to handle bullies, though I’m not sure how they do it.
I proudly teach my children to practice non-violence, but, no, I am not so naïve to think they won’t encounter violence, nor do I think that all violence is bad. But, if we are going to do violence, let’s do it the right way. Let’s teach our kids how to do it, as a form of self-defense, as a skill set, and teach them a few principles on when it may be necessary and when to avoid it. And truth be told, I am not sure when to use violence or when to walk away. I would be open to learning more. We are growth minded here. 🙂
I agree that life has sticky situations that you have to handle. We work on this often. Come to think of it, we start baseball season this very day as I write this. I understand there are occasionally politics, conflicts, and even bullies at sports events. You know, when I played, I remember an umpire (an adult, as was required for tournament games) that called a “strike” every time our team was at bat and “ball” every time his team was at bat in an effort to advance his team. Yup, bullies are everywhere.
Back to the people who argue with me: if you are sincerely worried about my children’s social experience, I greatly encourage you to support school choice. I would absolutely love to be able to pick out a school based on my values system. I would go back to work, making quite a bit of money for us. I would love to send my children to school and have the instant network that it brings. It is no light decision that I stay home with my children.
And I assure you, “High Quality Bullies” will be a top priority for me as I evaluate schools. 🙂