Bullies have been lurking in the shadows of school playgrounds for time eternal. They seem to find their voice in third grade recess. The art of bullying has advanced to unfathomable heights. The school yard has expanded to cyber space. Technology has spread the occurrence of bully abuse like wildfire. No child is safe. It is entirely possible that your own child’s heart, mind and soul has been penetrated by the verbal bullets of a bully. I want to share three concepts to Bully Proof your son or daughter—value, identity and influence. Each of these protective shields is covered in my book Faith Feedings: 12 Principles to nurture your child’s spiritual development (Faith Feeding 3 which is entitled You are God’s Good Idea). Let’s get a leg up on Bully Proofing you kiddos.
Value—“In our homes and schools, our young people are revealing a value crisis. “I am valuable” is being drowned out by the “I am too’s”—too tall, too fat, too ugly, too thin, too anything but God’s good idea. Every day we hear value indices: the strength of the dollar, the price of gold, the rise and fall of stocks. And every day we hear the results of the value famine of the human soul: insecurity, moral failure, addiction, eating disorders, bullying, crime, murder, suicide. “Then God said, let us make man in our own image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Now there’s a value index. Those fourteen words are like rain from heaven. They replace self-image with God-image. Together let’s bring on the rain and end the self-worth famine in our own lives and in the lives of those we influence. We live in an age of labels and logos. Made By God surpasses them all.”
Identity—“Personal identity goes beyond name and family lines. Our children want to be what they are not. What they want to be is determined by what they find appealing in others. Our tendency to want to be anything but what we are is fed by our lack of the understanding of our identity. True identity is not found in our earthly heritage. True identity originates with our Heavenly Father. When we know the truth of whose we are, we will have the freedom to choose who we will become. Such assurance of purpose, undoubtedly, is a missing element in today’s child. We have a great opportunity to edify our children by helping them realize their value to God and grasp their identity in Him. What a privilege! What a responsibility!”
Influence–“If there is one thing this generation is missing, it is awareness of the individual’s power to influence others. Influence is forever linked with value and identity. Children who know their value to God and their identity in God will find meaning and purpose in being an influence for God. Every child needs to grasp their potential for influence because every child needs to know that their life matters.”
Whether you have a child who is a bully risk or a child who has a bully tendency, I urge you to speak God’s love for them into their lives. Knowing that they matter to God will give them God-esteem. That will trump a bully’s bullets every time! The Lord is my strength and my shield; Psalm 28:7.
OPP: Ask God specifically how you can strengthen your child’s self perception. Be deliberate about connecting him or her with a God who loves and values them. Go slow on this. Changing from self-confidence to God-confidence takes a childhood—or even an adulthood!
Google: Dominic Zaffino and read this 10 year old’s Instagram response to bullying.
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