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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dealing with Bullies

It is with a heavy heart that I learnt that a few of my children's friends had been severely and constantly bullied by their school mates. Even more tragic that their new principal had been more concerned for the reputation of the school than with helping the students resolve the issues. I am proud to say that my kids had been able to stand up against the bullies by the grace of God. I had been teaching them ways to deal with such situations and I thought it might be helpful for other parents to know these suggestions too.

Three things NEVER to do:

1) Take revenge
The moment the victim gets involved with giving tit for tat, he becomes equally at fault. What's worse, if someone sees the victim committing the offence and did not get to see how it got started, the poor guy gets the blame instead. The aggressor will always lie to protect himself and the offended has no witness of his own.

2) React negatively
The moment the bullied person loses his temper, breaks down in tears or cowers in fear, the bully got what he wanted. It'll only further encourage the tormenting. So even if the target feels upset, he should not show it. Instead, pretend that it is water off the duck's back and ignore the tormentor. The victim should wait till he is in a safe place, e.g. at home, with good friends or family members, before releasing the pent up emotions. 

3) Be alone
It is natural for the recipient of traumatising experiences to be tempted to keep things to himself. Bullies love to attack when nobody is around. As far as possible, be with at least one friend. There will be a witness if anything bad were to happen. If the hater somehow manages to turn everybody in the same environment against the sufferer through threats or popularity, make friends from elsewhere. (Yes, popular people can be mean too) 

Personally, when I was harassed by a prominent girl, nobody else in class dared to stick by me. That was why I kept hanging out with friends from other classes and people from my CCA. When I was under heavy fire from two colleagues in my department as a teacher, I spent most of my time with those in other departments. As it turns out, those in whom I took refuge in became my best buddies till today. 

Here are three things to do instead:

1) Report the incident immediately. 
Don't let it drag on. Let the respective authorities handle the situation. If there are witnesses, rally them. However, there are sadly cases where those in charge are not doing their job properly. Sometimes, the bullies can masquerade as well-liked individuals and only stab another person in the dark. They can bootlick the bosses into taking their sides and lie their way out. In the event of impotent authorities, there are still two other things to be done.

2) Distance yourself
As far as possible, do not be in the same vicinity as the bully. Change seats if possible. If not, avoid any possible contact and basically treat the meanie as if invisible unless necessary. Ignore any attempts on their part to engage or attract attention. 

3) Life goes on
If the victim behaves as if nothing happened and continues with life confidently and cheerfully, he shows that he is not to be trifled with. Perform better, achieve good results, become more accomplished. That'll put the bully to shame. People have eyes to see and time can tell. Eventually, the others will side with the offended person if he can consistently show himself to be the bigger person. 

This video can also be a 
good resource for 
teaching children 
how to handle bullying

If one is a Christian, there are 3 more things that can be done:

1) Share Jesus
Most bullies have very tragic backstories. They are unloved, abused, bullied themselves or terribly neglected in their lives. Either they have been traumatised and want to lash out at others or they simply want to get the attention they sorely lack in their empty lives. If there was some kind of a relationship between the bullied and the bully before things turned out badly, the bullied can try sharing the gospel to the broken person in the presence of another believer. Only God can save and heal. If he refuses to listen, quoting from the bible is better than nothing.
"The words that a person speaks come from their thoughts. It is what comes out of a person's mouth that makes them dirty." (Matthew 15:18)

2) Be kind
Even though on normal days, the offended should stay away from the recalcitrant offender, when an obvious need arises, show love to the undeserved one. God's Word tells us to love our enemies. Yet, we must be as innocent as doves but as shrewd as a serpent. He might want to do this act of kindness with another friend to safeguard himself. 
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink" (Romans 12:20)

3) Pray
Not just for God to protect or make a way out, but also for the bully to find God in the end. 
"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Family Devotions

A photo of the screened cosmos
(My phone camera doesn't do it justice)

When the children were young, it was next to impossible to do family devotions. We had to do a lot of behavioural management due to inattentiveness, chit-chatting, asking of irrelevant questions and squabbles. The older two were bored with the kiddy songs and simple lessons, whereas the younger ones couldn't help disturbing everyone especially when we tried to address the legitimate queries of their elder siblings. 

God had very graciously prompted me at the beginning of this year to split them into two groups. We use regular worship songs and read straight from the bible starting from Genesis. The lessons learnt are rich and the questions asked by our first two children are deep and pertinent. When it comes to the younger two, we still use an age-appropriate devotional with interesting stories and upbeat kids' praise songs to keep them interested. Thank God that our bedtime family devotions have now finally become peaceful and meaningful. 

Today, I had yet another inspiration. 

We actually have a home planetarium which projects the starry night sky onto the ceiling. We bought it quite some time ago. The boys have it in their room at night on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while the girls use it on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as they fall asleep. 

Tonight, I brought the machine into my air-conditioned room, prepared my favourite lavender aromatherapy, put on the soundtrack of sea waves accompanied by ethereal music and switched on an audio reading of the book of Psalms. All four children piled into our queen-sized bed, snugly tucked under my comforter, and listened to the bible while gazing at the constellations. It was such a beautiful and therapeutic time that I have decided to have this session every Sunday night.

Even though the little ones are inevitably prone to fidgeting and talking, I'm sure that in good time, they will learn to be still and know that He is God. I pray that this regular quiet moment of imbibing the Word of God under such soothing conditions, which is as close to the ambience of nature as we can possibly create at home, will enhance their relationship with their Lord and Saviour.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Tayo Station

To reward Joram for his good behaviour during the Youth Day outing, I brought just him all the way to Downtown East for a fun time at the new Tayo Station as his Children's Day celebration. The rest of the kids were grounded at home for being a nuisance to the public. 

As I suspected, Joram chose to spend most of the two hours at the road circuit. He simply zipped around with such glee! He also enjoyed the slides at the playground section. Right before we left, he watched the TV show for a while and I allowed him to buy a toy as a souvenir. No prize for guessing what he chose. ROFL

After being so used to lugging 4 kiddos around, I have forgotten how relaxing and easy it is to spend time with just one kid, especially a well-behaved child like my youngest. It brings me great delight to see him grinning from ear to ear throughout the trip. I guess it is also very rare that he gets Mummy all to himself. Hur hur hur...

Following the traffic rules


At the workshop

Why is the arrow pointing up?!?!


My bolsters :P

Joram: "Mummy, it's a rocket!"

'Swimming' in the ball pit

Chilling out


Rogi, the green bus

Jelly in a giant syringe