As I think about children and the things they experience as they grow up, I realize it is not only the peers in their lives that can be bullies, it can also be the adults. The people with which our children come into contact need to be high-caliber people who really desire to interact with children. Particularly if they are going to be in your children’s lives for a length of time, we must be very discerning.
When our children are put into programs of any length of time, be it sports, theater, music lessons, tutoring session, etc., I feel is it totally appropriate to ask what kind of experience the person in charge has dealing with children that are the same age as your child. These adults are the ones that are setting the tone for a whole group of children.
In a world where children without an anchor are so easily swayed, the adults need to be strong role models. They must be people who value our children. If those adults show any signs of disrespect to any of the children (yours or otherwise) this should be a red flag. If the adult who is in charge shows disrespect to a child with whom he/she is working, that is a green light for anyone else in the group to also treat that child with disrespect. Parents must make be clear it is unacceptable for an adult in an authority role to be acting in a manner which degrades or diminishes another child.
I want to be clear that criticism does need to be allowed. When adults are in a teaching role, they must be able to correct and criticize in an appropriate manner. A child should feel free to grow and take risks in their effort to grow. Children need to learn that just because someone is correcting or working to better them, it does not mean the adult does not like them or is trying to make them feel bad. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and a caring adult will use the opportunity to better a child.
Where does that line get crossed? When is the adult in charge starting to become a bully? I feel that when the person in charge uses derogatory language with the child, or starts to openly make off-color comments to a whole group of children, that is when the line has been crossed. When an unfortunate situation like this arises, it is a time to be a part of a village to keep our children safe. We need to be proactive and vocal about our expectations in regard to the people who are with our children. As adults, if we see any of this kind of behavior, whether it is with our child or not, it needs to be reported. Has anyone ever had an experience with this? What did you do? How did it work out? Please feel free to share your stories!