You may remember that my word of the year for 2016 is FOCUS. And one of the things we need to help us to be fully focused is a way of cutting out all the distractions around us.  And right now, there are just so many right? What with revision and exams, and maybe the parents nagging you to make sure you’re getting it all done…  and there are so many competitions about now too. Traditionally this end-of-the-school-year time is when parents, teachers (and coaches!) and young people are just soooo frazzled, they really need a break.

And when we’re frazzled and short tempered, we say things in the heat of the moment that we don’t really mean. At this time of year, it’s not uncommon to find things a little strained in the changing rooms too. A sharp comment here, a piece of gossip there, and before you know it there’s a little bit of low-level bullying going on. If there’s one thing I hear over and over from sensitive skaters it’s about difficulties with X or Y at the rink “going in front of me all the time” or “making comments” or “not talking to me now s/he’s changed coach” or “watching me and laughing” or “getting in my way”.  Of course it happens at school too, but somehow it’s different at the rink isn’t it? That’s your place of sanctuary. The “go-to” place for peace and joy and where you can be free to be yourself. But not when this is happening.

Add into the mix the difficulties which ensue when the parents charge in and get involved and you’ve got a full blown ‘situation’.

Here to help us handle the situation, and continuing with my theme of setting the right example for your child, in this week’s guest blog, Gemma Hills – The Anti Bullying Mum – warns mums and dads against wading in to fight their children’s battles and setting the wrong example. In fact, it can even escalate the problem!

And it all tallies nicely with my advice to parents to remember that you are a mirror to your child, and how you handle the tough stuff is how they learn to handle it too! Read her take on it below:

If You Pick on my Kid You’d Better Prepare to Deal with Me! – Gemma Hills, The Anti-Bullying Mum

Is this how youGemma Hills - The Anti-Bullying Mum feel?  It seems a universal law that when you pick on someone’s child it’s likely you’ll have them to deal with too!  What begins with the kids inevitably ends with the parents.

But beware!  More often than not I hear examples of when this has worked out EXTREMELY detrimental to all involved, particularly the kids.

Within moments these apparently mature, understanding adults are reduced to teenagers with a grudge.  ‘I won’t be having coffee with her anymore!’, ‘If she’s expecting me to talk to her after this, she’s got another think coming!’.

Suddenly our communication and collaboration skills are reduced to that of a very young child and we’re left with a very bitter taste in our mouths.  We’re fired up for battle and we don’t care what happens as long as our point is made – ‘No one treats my child that way.’

It’s understandable, we want to defend our kids.  Yet we so often forget we are teaching our kids how to deal with everyday life through our own everyday actions.

There are times when cutting people from your life is the right thing to do.  Of course the decision needs to be made when you’re being bullied, have a ‘frenemy’, or are being abused in any way.  Toxic people need not be a part of your or your family’s life.  Here I’m looking at the bickering and name calling that occurs between children.  The experiences that teach them about respect, build their resilience, and test their communication skills.

Are we behaving how we expect they would?  Would we expect differently from them?

If they fell out with friends would we expect them to take time to calm themselves before making the effort to communicate until the situation is resolved?  Or, would we find it acceptable for them to talk about their friends behind their backs (well, they started this by picking on us first) and then proceed to ignore them and throw ‘dirty’ looks across the room?

It’s all well and good telling our children how best to move through life but we need to SHOW them.

How do you deal with confrontation?

What reaction would I get if I called you names and told you that you weren’t good enough?

What is your child learning through you?

Another common outcome when a parent gets directly involved is escalation.

Now there are adults in the equation, the children embody the apparent strength of their parents and really begin to ‘fight back’.  Before you know what’s happening something that could have been dealt with reasonably quickly, has now blown up into a near war between two families, making it appear impossible for the kids to make amends and move on.

The result?  The kids are stuck.  They can’t stop the feud, release the anger and hurtful emotions, and move on because their parents’ actions are keeping them a part of the argument.

If we want to help our kids, we need to show them how to move away from pointless bickering.  They need to learn through us how to deal with unwanted behaviour from others so they aren’t left harbouring resentment and anger.

Harbouring these emotions long term is only harmful to the person feeling them.

Who wants that for their kids?