I was recently catching up on my Oprah episodes and found that the day before she aired the big Elizabeth Edwards interview, she talked about bullying and suicide on her show. It really struck a chord with me because this is one of those small worries that I have not yet watered or given sunlight. After the show, I decided to try to at least take a look at this fear and see if now was the time to examine it.
I haven't done tons of research but I think it's a no-brainer. Children with disabilities are at risk for bullying. I have been both a bully and a victim of bullying in the past and am really not proud of how I acted or reacted in both of these roles. I'm trying to figure out how I can prevent this for Logan because I see how he plays with other typical children in the playground and the outcomes leave a lot to be desired.
In fact, there are more days than not, Logan is playing totally by himself. He wants to befriend the wolf pack roaming about in the park but he just can not. I feel so bad everytime I watch this and it's hard to help since I have to watch Spencer the toddler but in any case, I feel that some things can not be rushed. Logan's social skills still need a lot more development.
If you click onto that link above, you'll see that it could be interpreted that it's against the law to bully a child with a disability. I'm glad to see that but having been a victim of racially-based bullying when I was little, I can tell you from personal experience, how completely powerless a child can feel. To a kid, the law would be an abstract idea at best, if I had even known about it. My parents also didn't know what to do. They didn't know about the incidents most of the time anyway. I am now trying to remember these experiences because I need to be proactive about teaching Logan about bullying, especially since he will start "big school" soon.
I think I'm going to focus a lot on teaching social skills and building self-esteem. I focus on behavior so much and I don't think I'm doing enough teaching in this area and I really should, right? Couldn't this indirectly impact behavior? I remember that I once watched from a far while he and another boy who was older was playing a game where they were throwing a volleyball at each other's heads (Logan had his bike helmet on so I didn't protest immediately and just stepped back and watched carefully). The older boy never missed but Logan always missed until the moment came when Logan threw the ball straight at the older boy's head. Wham! And that older boy just pushed Logan very hard to the ground even though he had hit Logan's head several times before. That's when I stepped in and called them over to me. Only my son came to me and I praised Logan for not retaliating but now I know I did the wrong thing. I wasn't looking at the whole picture either.
I have to teach Logan to speak up for himself. He still has a ways to go with expressing how he feels through words. I have to push it one step further and make sure he uses his words to protect himself and his feelings. Come to think of it, I do too. I am always the one to think of the greatest comebacks, days after I was insulted. It's really quite pathetic.
I want to teach Logan that he has to say to peers and even to me, "I don't like that," or "That is not right." I think I will also teach him to stand up for others, perhaps that might be the way to go. It's the right thing to do and I believe he is capable of the challenge.
Believe it or not, I have a hard time making friends and I find that it is easier to secure a place in society by volunteering or helping out somehow. If Logan turns out to be this way, I can teach him that he can build self-esteem by helping others while not being a servant. It's a gray area that I need to teach Logan. If he learns to help others, he might build up more courage this way because my little guy can be so afraid at times. On top of that, he's still Asian and racial epithets are still alive and strong today even in a place like New York City.
I forget how fragile he can be since he can be so angry and bossy sometimes. Perhaps, when he talks back and becomes oppositional; those situations might be the best times to teach him how to respond appropriately to adverse situations where he feels frustration and anger. I wonder if I know how to do this. So far, I think I'll be taking tips from Stop Bullying Now.
(pictured: Logan could be in a service position one day. He looks good in red too. Below: if you follow this blog, you'll know that he always tries to help his brother even though he taunts him sometimes.)