Last Friday we had our first school friend over (complete with Mum and sibling) for a playdate. I invited them over because for the first few weeks of Fin’s Prep experience we only ever heard about Billy (not his real name) this and Billy that. Most lunchtimes were spent sitting next to Billy and I was even pestered to buy the same things for the lunchbox that Billy was bringing to school (namely, those squirty yoghurts, which I bought once and never again).
So a couple of weeks ago I extended an invitation to Billy’s mum for she and Billy and Billy’s three-year-old brother to come over for a playdate after school sometime. This was accepted and we set the date.
So how does this tackle bullying? Glad you asked.
A bullying expert on Seven’s Sunday Night program last week explained that the victims of bullying were often lonely children who didn’t form friendships easily and she said that one of the responsibilities of a parent was to teach their children how to make friends. This is done by inviting classmates to your house or meeting up in a park for a playdate.
Now Fin is a very, very social creature. Much more so than even me. As the set time for our playdate approached I (as I always do) found myself wishing I hadn’t organised it and not quite, but almost, dreading it. It’s because I feel nervous about making new friends and this is outside my comfort zone.
But I do believe firmly that children learn more from their parents’ behaviours than they do from what their parents tell them. And so I’m making new friends and putting myself out there.
And of course, as is always the case, these things go very well. The kids had such a wonderful time, with everyone getting along so brilliantly that our guests seemed not to want to leave! I served snacks throughout the afternoon and around 5pm used English muffins as the bases and made a dozen mini pizzas, which were a huge hit with the kids and also meant that both Billy’s mum and I didn’t have to worry about then serving dinner.
By the time Billy’s family left we had formed a solid foundation for a strong friendship and I was so happy and pleased that I’d made a new friend that I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the evening.
It’s a timely reminder as bullying remains on the national agenda, that if we can stop our children being victims we can stop bullying in its tracks. Model your behaviour for your children. Teach them how to be strong, positive people.