Can You Really Bully-proof Your Kids?

When I first discovered Paul Coughlin’s excellent book Raising Bully-proof Kids, my first reaction to the title was: Really? Is that possible in today’s world? I’m not going to answer that. I hope you’ll read this book and come to your own conclusion.

Actually, I was first attracted to Coughlin’s writing when I came across his original title: No More Jellyfish, Chicken or Wimps: Raising Secure, Assertive Kids in a Tough World. This title will give you a clue as to why I am recommending the book. It’s really a book that deals with some of our most basic issues as parents: fear (ours and our kids’, but especially ours); courage; and raising resilient kids.

Coughlin addresses fear as the underlying cause of what he warns against: “timid living.”

“Fear, my fellow parents, is our newest baby-sitter, our most prominent childcare consultant . . .” (p.13).

“Fearful parents are raising fear-filled children, which yields anxiety-saturated households and worry-worn relationships.” (p. 15)

Too true! And these words were written long before the unspeakable Sandy Hook tragedy.

Let’s face it. We live in a fear-filled world. A dangerous world, actually. The question is how we will respond—and how we will teach our children to navigate this real world we live in. Because fear can warp our parenting and paralyze our kids. Fear causes us to become overprotective parents raising underdeveloped kids.

Coughlin’s antidote? Courageous living. Godly living. He has some great chapters on where courage can be found, the traits of the courageous, and how to teach our children the crucial difference between being “nice” and being good. He uses a number of helpful examples from Scripture. I particularly liked his discussion of a proper understanding of the “turn the other cheek” teaching from the Sermon on the Mount juxtaposed with Jesus’ response to the high priest in John 18:19-23. Very helpful insights for parents wanting to help kids respond “Christianly” in potential bullying situations.

The author does include some great specific tips on preventing and dealing with bullying. I also liked his emphasis on the importance of instilling in kids a healthy, Godly sense of worth that prepares them proactively against bullying. It sounds a lot like what we teach at Mom to Mom!

As I read this book, and as I speak with so many moms about the ever-present bullying issue, 2 Timothy 1:7 comes to mind: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity [many versions read “fear”], but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (NIV)