In Elsewhere, most of our children and grandchildren will be ‘allowed’ to return to school with and without masks, others will be home schooled and some unfortunately, will drift. It is the fall of the year and I dare say none of us have been able to totally rise about the fray….of life in Elsewhere. I know I have fallen out of step and lost my normal positive gait. I am far more cautious, even jittery in public places, definitely angry about the state of affairs I am forced to live under and for the first time in my life my positive attitude about people’s actions turns cynical. When that feeling engulfs me I recall the phrase, ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me. Passing on this phrase with a message to children and grandchildren is the role of every mom and grandmother. This story is dedicated to all children living in Elsewhere.
I’m willing to bet all of us remember chanting this saying in a singsong voice when we were little girls, in response to wounding words from bullies and even our friends and siblings. Reciting it was our way of standing up for ourselves, and pretending that these people and their cruel words could not hurt us. But in reality, those mean-spirited ‘words’ made many of us, myself included, want to go into a corner and cry.
With all the crazy name-calling and accusations we see in the press these days (elections notwithstanding!), and knowing that the more things change the more they stay the same (another adage, but also one with a lot of truth); I think we should prepare our grands to deal with unpleasant confrontations. Unfortunately, our grands may begin their journey of dealing with verbal harassment in preschool. How unfortunate, but here’s a solution. I teach my grands ‘the art of physical discipline,’ three short and sweet rules. I prefer them over resorting to long drawn-out explanations that may be lost on them at an early age. These rules are actually simple but effective behavioral techniques that will carry them into their teens—and well beyond. I find I still use them today.
3 Rules for Overcoming Ruthless Words
- Think Twice Before Speaking Once: This is an easy and extremely effective rule of thumb to pound into their little heads (or big heads, I promise you!). Tell them to count to 10. This learned habit gives young and old alike time to think of an appropriate course of action.
- Walk Away: Silence is golden and powerful. And this ensures silence, since they can’t be there to sass someone back. Depending on the situation they might even say, “Have a nice day.”
- Run For Help: Your children and grandchildren should feel confident that you are their “safety nets” to love and protect them and be there when they are in need of help.
We are Helpers
For those of us with tween and teen grands who are being harassed by “bad apples,” take this strategy to a higher level. Here are three ideas you can use to help them in these situations.
- Help your grands develop a network that will protect them from emotional hurt by teaching them to branch out and make friends in different groups. Try a church or synagogue group, a school group, a sports group. They have a backup if they become a target in another group.
- Help your grands sort out the different meanings of “popular.” Tweens and teens always want to join the popular crowd. We can help our grands see the difference between the group they are comfortable in, and the group that is considered the “in” crowd.
- Discuss with your Grands characteristics that are attractive to their peers: friendliness, enthusiasm, helpfulness, good-nature, confidence, humility, responsiveness, and so on. If your grand is lacking in an area, as most tweens and teens are, use your skills to help them develop the skill.
Lastly I preach to my grands of all ages about the other side of the coin: their behavior.
Dear Grands of mine,
You may be in a competitive mood, feel like gossiping unfairly, get green-eyed with jealousy or wish someone else’s girlfriend or boyfriend was your girlfriend or boyfriend. And there will be times when you just don’t like some other girl or boy. Put aside whatever is bothering you and WATCH YOUR WORDS. Nice always wins!
YOUR WORDS AND ACTIONS MAY BE FORGIVEN, BUT OFTEN THEY WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.
And dear readers of mine: This goes for all of us grand dames over 50.
If you enjoyed this piece, please subscribe to my email list. When I post a daily story, you will receive it in your inbox.