Photo Credit: Robert Baker,

Over the years I’ve spoken to countless moms who are troubled by their children being bullied at school. It seems that bullying is getting worse and worse, but maybe this is just my perception.

It has come to my attention more and more that many of the children being bullied are the kids wanting to not participate in the race for popularity. Many of them insist on being “just themselves.”

Over the years I’ve always put more emphasis on my children’s character grades and their stories of friendships (or lack of) than I have of their academic grades. The miraculous thing is that they are both straight-A students. I believe that it’s THEIR achievement and THEIR grades, so when they show me their report card I say “Wow, amazing! Are you happy with that?” And when they say “Yes,” I tell them, “Nice job!”

In these little words, I let them know that this is their deal, their achievement, and their happiness. It has nothing to do with me. I’ll love them regardless.

Once you’ve gotten a taste of success, the spark is lit and any child will strive to get one more dose of that feeling if given the proper encouragement and opportunity.

Now they might strive for success in an area you don’t see right for them (or approve of). This is where it’s the most challenging to be a parent. In the ocean of fear related to thoughts of “will my child make it?” or “I don’t think this is right for them.”

We can then remind ourselves that it’s by failing and getting back up that we earn points to continue in the game. We gain strength.

I explained it like this to my daughter,

“You know when you play a video game and you do something courageous like slaying a dragon, you earn points and strength every timethat’s what it’s like in life. Every time you do something scary or courageous, you earn strength and it gets easier and easier.”

We also all know that by looking back at our lives, the road to success and happiness is by no means a straight line. It involved trial and error. Zig-zagging through choices. So what you CAN teach your child is to listen to that voice or feeling that you have when it feels like you’re heading down the wrong path for you; and zig towards and a path that’s more suitable.

If your child only learns to follow the path you set for them, they’ll never learn to listen to this voice and they might risk going down a path not right for them for ages to come.

So, now that I hopefully helped you feel a little better about letting your child be responsible for their own success, we can get back to popularity versus kindness.

It takes a lot of strength and self-worth to stand up to bullies and not participate in the popularity game at school. Here’s how I taught my kids about bullying:

I told my kids that anyone feeling the need to put other people down, must inherently feel really bad inside and most likely has issues at home of some sort.

This strategy paid off because my kids have learned that it very rarely has anything to do with them when they get bullied, and to instead have compassion for the person putting them down. That is, after they’ve gotten over the anger of being treated unfairly.

My son once told a kid who was bullying him in high school, “You must really have a difficult home life.” It was very disarming and to be honest I was actually surprised that my son had listened to me all those years.

I believe that being empowered to follow their own guidance and being armed with compassion and understanding for bullies has given my kids the strength to not care about being popular. Especially if it costs them their self-worth and integrity.

For me, to always focus on being kind to others has also given them the title as being good friends. Something that’s hard to find in an American society and something that’ll give my kids long-lasting friendships in the futurewhich is important for their level of happiness and success.

So when the women around me voice their concerns about their children being bullied, I always say, “Well that just means that your child wasn’t willing to do whatever it takes to be popular. And that’s a good thing.”

What are you doing to strengthen your child’s inner guidance and self-worth, to be able to withstand bullies and peer pressure? What are you doing to teach your child the value of friendships? I hope this article gave you some ideas.

 Photo Credit: Robert Baker,