Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 | 4 comments






Many years ago, when my son, Eric, (not his real name) was in 8th grade, he had to give a presentation. To say that he was petrified would be an understatement. The evening before, I had him practice with me several times. He did a great job. I encouraged him with all the known tricks for public speaking.

Prior to school on that fateful day, Eric said to me, “But what if I get up there and kids laugh at me?”

I told him something that is a tried and true situation diffuser: “Laugh with them.”

Human nature is to become defensive when someone laughs at us, but defensiveness is a surefire way to ignite the flames of teasing and bullying.

So Eric went to school and gave his presentation. And the class laughed at him.

He dragged through the front door after school. His eyes glassed over with tears as he told me what happened. “What did you do when they laughed?” I asked.

“I laughed, too. But I didn’t know what they were laughing about until I sat down.”

“What were they laughing about?” My curiosity bubbled. His presentation wasn’t a funny one.

Eric turned red, then let it all gush out. “When I sat down, my friend who sits behind me said my barn door was open.” Eric wasn’t smiling. “I don’t want to go back to school, tomorrow, or ever!”

“Okay.” I jumped in. “Let’s think of how this situation was funny. Imagine if you were watching someone give a speech and his fly was open.”

The more we talked and joked, the funnier that picture grew in our minds.

“Think of some funny responses you can give if kids tease you,” I said.

Eric thought for a while. “I could say that it was the comedy part of my act.”

“Good one! If you poke fun of yourself and laugh about the situation, no one will find it as amusing. Be the first one to joke about it. If you do, the other kids will get the idea that teasing you won’t cause a reaction.”

That’s what teasing and bullying are often about—causing a reaction from the victim.

That night, I searched for a small, smooth rock in our flower garden. After painting a smiley face on it, I wrapped it in a note. The note said, “Smile, and always remember that I love you.” I hid the rock in the front pocket of the jeans he planned to wear in the morning.

The next day, after he got off the bus, Eric raced through the front door. “Mom, it worked! As soon as I got to class, I joked about my fly being down. Everyone laughed with me for a while, then I didn’t hear about it any more.”

“Way to go!” I said, throwing him a high-five.

“And I found the rock on the way to school,” he said, grinning ear to ear. “It made me laugh every time I reached into my pocket.”

That simple little rock became a family tradition. It has been secretly passed between the five of us for years. No one in our family ever knows when the rock will show up in a pocket or bag, or even under a pillow, and it always makes the receiver smile and know that he or she is loved.

There are three key elements in this post for dealing with bullies:

1.     Show your child that you love him and that you’re his biggest supporter. Build up his/her sense of self-worth.

2.     Help your child to think through situations and come up with ideas for things to say.

3.     Teach your child to diffuse bullying when possible, with humor.

All of us need a solid rock against which we can lean in any situation. That rock is God. He will hold us up and if necessary carry us through any tough situation. Only thing we have to do, after accepting Jesus, is ask.  Psalm 18:2:  “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” I am thankful for the privilege of calling on God every day.

Deb Gardner Allard is a writer of books & stories for children. She has a B.S. degree in psychology and is a retired registered nurse. Her book, “Izzy and the Real! Truth About Moose Boy,” a book for 3rd through 5th graders, encourages children to talk about the difference between teasing and bullying while reading about the pranks of Moose Boy. The book can be purchased through Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com and many other venues. Deb enjoys blogging about children as well. Visit her website at www.debgardnerallard.com.

Picture of Smiley face is a photo by Adrian van Leen from RGB Stock.com. Thank you, Adrian, for allowing others to use it.




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  1. Patsy Reiter

    I was moved to tears reading your post. I’d love to pass a smiley face along to my family when
    emotions and fears are high. Great idea and great solution to a possible bullying issue.

    May we all take shelter and refuge with our solid rock, Christ. Patsy

  2. Wanda S. Maxey

    Love your post, what a great idea. I’m glad your son felt like he could come to you and your idea helped him. What a neat example to use the smiley face on a rock and then pass it around. It’s wonderful to know that we can all take shelter with Christ, the solid rock.


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