Celebrity guest blogger Kendra Wilkinson, star of E's reality show Kendra and mom to toddler Hank Jr., reveals her fears about bullying—from how she tries to protect Hank Jr. from it now on the playground to how she’ll protect him from being bullied in the future because of her past. Read Kendra's previous posts on what kind of parent she hopes to be and her healthy eating tricks for Baby Hank.
I’m doing what I can to make sure Baby Hank is never a bully. We concentrate and focus so much on the development of our son because I think it’s so important; he’s growing up so fast so that means we have to pay attention to every little detail.
For starters, we’re definitely focusing on teaching Baby Hank RESPECT—centering on how he treats other people and the importance of him being polite (please and thank you are BIG in our house!). Baby Hank can be a crazy kid, and have fun and jump around—but he needs to know there is a difference between having fun with another child and picking on a kid. A little while ago we were at the park, and Baby Hank climbed this wall slide for the first time. I was there and helping him up, and he was getting there and getting there… and he finally got to the top. He was SO happy, we were all congratulating him and celebrating this accomplishment. Then there was this little five-year-old kid who climbed up and got to the same spot and then whacked Hank in the face out of nowhere. I thought to myself, “That’s where it starts.” The kid of course didn’t know any better, but I was surprised the parent didn’t step in and tell his son that it was wrong. Kids are just kids, and they don’t know why some actions are wrong unless their parents teach them and explain why they’re wrong. They are learning and growing every day, so I think it’s our responsibility as parents to guide them. By not disciplining them or not telling them what’s right or wrong, I sometimes fear those kids will grow up continuing to act inappropriately because they never learned it was wrong. By the time they are disciplined (at school or by the parents, finally) it will be too late because the bad or violent behavior is already ingrained in them.
At that moment the bullying didn’t come from the kid, it came from the parent. It made me so sad because that child didn’t know any better. We try and make sure that we not only discipline Baby Hank but also teach him a lesson. We don’t want to just punish him for doing something wrong, but we want to make sure he learns why it’s wrong and how to not do it again. We have to put our time and energy into our kids to stop bullying before it starts. It’s such an epidemic now, and I think the parents of the next generation of kids coming up (my husband and I included) need to be proactive with stopping bullying at an early age so it doesn’t get to the point it is at now when our kids are in middle school and high school. I think it would be great if the schools would have a dedicated anti-bullying week to teach kids how serious this is. I think the more positive reinforcement and education you provide the children the better. We need to teach kids to pick each other up and not put each other down.
Anytime I do a radio show or interview or TV segment, I always get the question, “How do you think your son is going to feel when he finds out about your past?” That question sometimes breaks my heart. I obviously know my own past, I have written 2 books about my past and present, as well as having it all documented on TV for 9 seasons. Because of that, I want to be open about my life. For that reason, we are very open with our son, and when he gets a little older we will talk to him about everything. He will get to know his parents and everything about us, and he will be proud of us. A lot of people also think that Baby Hank will get picked on by other kids when he grows up because of my past, and I’ll be honest: that scares me.
It’s not just kids though. A lot of news shows have been reporting on bullying and how bad it’s gotten—but then in the next segment they are talking poorly about someone or poking fun at someone in the public eye, and that right there is bullying in and of itself! I think people should take Perez Hilton’s lead. He used to be really mean to some celebs on his site PerezHilton.com, but he took it on himself to realize that while he was trying to stop bullying, he was still bullying himself. He did a really great and courageous thing by turning around his entire site and brand to stop bullying. He could have lost a lot of readers by changing his site all the way around, but that proved he was really serious about stopping bullying, and I think he’s a great influence when it comes to that. He took the initiative to stop something even if it could have been at the risk of his own career.
Bullying is something we can’t change overnight, but we can start educating the younger generations about it so we can hopefully prevent it in the future! What do you do to teach your kids about bullying?