Last year one of my boys was struggling with bullying at school. Not just being bullied himself but seeing those around him bullied. It was a really hard time. He didn't want to go to school and I didn't want him to be sad, but I made him go anyway (most days). I just felt at the time that you can't stay home forever. It was really sweet though because at the end of the year he said to me, 'Mum I have learnt a lot this year. I learnt to have thicker skin and I learnt to be friendly to those who didn't look like they had friends and I made new friends. (That was great as I had encouraged him earlier in the year when he felt like he had no one to play with to look around and see who else looked alone, as there was always someone who looked lonely. Exciting to know that this worked. Though I didn't know for months later.)
Hayden with his special friend at school.
This year my older two started a new high school and it was a challenge for them being new students and getting the hang of longer hours and getting to know new people. Also my year one son was in a class where he only knew two students and he just wanted to stay home with me. I really have wanted to support them and help them as much as possible, so this is what I have tried to do:
Make home a sanctuary. Try and make home a place where they can relax and feel loved. This is actually hard as kids fight with each other and you get cross them and loose your temper. But it is a goal we try and work together as a family. I really try and work and not criticizing them too much. Some days are better then others! (Especially with smelly teenage boys!)
Encourage them to keep trying. As awful as it is they have to learn to cope in the world. We managed too and it has helped us be the capable people they are. We can't shield them from life. In saying that 'mental health days' or TLC days at home are good. (Unfortunately my youngest wants another one the next day too). Maybe go through situations they are dealing with and talk about how they can best handle that. With boys one time we felt we had to teach our boys how to be more friendly. So we did some role plays on what to do in certain situations. One was , 'If someone you know is at the door do you a) run and hide (that was what one of my kids does often) b) say hello etc.... It worked really well. When we had some friends come over for dinner they were telling us how friendly are kids were. This was a great break through!
Listen, its so hard to find times where your kids can really tell you how they feel. For one of my kids it was swimming in the pool together. He just poured his hear out on all the mean things people were saying to him, like 'people call me a nerd because I like wearing my hat'. I wanted to give him some advice, but he was so busy talking he didn't stop and listen. I realised he just needed a sympathetic ear, not for me to solve his problems. I know I have times like that too.
Keep up the doses of fun up. I find planning and making sure we have fun things in our life, swimming in the pool, going to the park, going out for icecream help us cope with the hard things in life. This is what my husband and I need just as much.
Extended family support can be great too. I've noticed my kids just lapping up any attention from family. My older boys really listen to their aunts and uncles too.
This is at one of our family christmas parties. Josh is dressed up as a wiseman- I know its hard to tell. Granpa is... well a funny man? :)
I really believe in prayer. I pray for little specific things like, 'please help my child have a friend to play with today' or 'please help me be stay calm in this situation'. I really see this working in my life and it is a great comfort to me knowing that even if I can't be there all the time, God is watching them too.
Be involved in what they do. I always love to help in the classroom. You always find out so much about the teacher, the dymanimcs of the students and get extra insight into whats going on. Today I went into my youngest classroom and realised how strict his teacher was. But I did feel sorry for the kids who got into trouble, they are so little. I guess you can see I am such a softie!
Teach your kids to be kind and stand up for others! There is no prouder moment then when they do.
Anyway this is what helps me keep going when my family is struggling. What do you do?