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When School is Scary

When School is Scary

School can be a frightening place for many students, especially when they’ve experienced episodes of bullying, humiliation, or academic failure. Walking in the front doors can feel much like a last supper for the adolescent who expects to face heartache, hatred, or humiliation. Our children would rather run away than face the hardship of other students’ words and wounds, and frankly, so would we!

Let’s get real for a moment. How many parents have sat on the bedside with a sobbing child who is humiliated because someone called him/her “stupid,” “ugly,” “fat,” or “too churchy?” No parent wants to see his/her child endure painful opposition, so it’s only natural that we do everything in our power to remove the negativity. Our responses may include everything from simple chats to formally removing a child from a school environment.

The way we try to fix the school problem can look different, depending on our child’s greatest needs. But as a veteran educator who has frequently dealt with hurting families, I would caution against rash, “in the moment” decisions about a child’s school challenges or placements, particularly when our mommy and daddy emotions are running high.

Why, you ask? Because challenges and heartaches are the triggers that grow our resiliency for life-long success. We’re always going to feel hurt or heartache in some fashion, whether in school, church, home, or community. People will always say and do hurtful things that bruise the ego, damage the pride, and destroy our motivation. We’re living in a fallen world, so it’s bound to happen. And sadly, in some extreme circumstances, other people will try to physically harm us, and that’s never okay.

If your child is in obvious physical danger at school, on the bus, or in afterschool care, take swift action to end the cause of harm or to remove him/her from the environment. Bold attacks require bold solutions, and physical harm is never acceptable.

But the harm that our children frequently face in school is social-emotional harm, and sadly, we’ll never stop it. To a certain extent, kids will always be kids, and they’ll speak or act before thinking. (Flashback to an 8th grade church fieldtrip). Even church kids can be rude. But removing children from these environments and conditions may not be the best solution, because this is where a child builds resiliency and motivation—qualities leading to life success.

We learn to respond with grace to episodes of bullying or insults by standing firmly before our obstacles, relying on the full power of the cross. Let’s think of our children as like David. They never confront their Goliaths alone when Christ is on their side.

If you’re a parent, take the time to encourage another parent whose child is hurting, and exercise great patience with decisions that charge our emotions. Sometimes, taking a step back helps us to move forward when our children hurt, so purpose to hug another parent today, take a deep breath, and let Him guide.

By: Dr. Lori Brown is a southern educator and writer who enjoys inspiring families to find their joy in deeper community with the Lord.

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