I was bullied in middle school, badly. I was called ugly, laughed at just walking down the hall, and the kids particularly zeroed in on my frizzy mullet that I tried desperately to style. They made fun of what I was wearing, and ganged up on me. They wrote me death threats and passed me nasty notes telling me how worthless I was. They ridiculed me in class, telling me I look like I pick my nose. Middle school was hell.
The bus ride home was the worst of it. I was trapped in a seat in a moving tube with my tormentors and no escape. One day, I got off at my stop to go home and all the kids on the bus got off with me, even though it wasn’t their stop. They formed a circle around me and their leader, yelling “Fight! Fight! Fight!” as their leader taunted me, daring me to do something. I was luckily able to walk through the circle and get home unharmed. I think it was that day my mom had her brilliant idea, which is the subject of this article.
My mom had thought long and hard about how to make the bullying stop. She had put me in karate, just in case I’d need to defend myself one day, but that wasn’t a solution to the problem; just a precaution. No, she kept thinking, what can I do to get them to stop. And then it came to her: If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, why wouldn’t the same be true for a kid? Kids love to eat; especially candy.
The next day she armed me with a sandwich bag of M&Ms and told me to pull it out on the bus ride home, and to share with my tormentors. Sure enough, once I opened my bag of candy, the bullies all began asking, “can I have some?” to which I happily obliged. From that day forward, I always had some snack to share with all the kids on the bus, and before I knew it, my enemies became my friends. Not in the sense that we hung out after that, but they were nice to me. No one ever picked on me again. It was magic.
Some parents may be hesitant to employ this tactic, thinking “you’re rewarding the bullies for their bad behavior.” No you’re not. You’re outsmarting them. I stand by this because it worked for me. It saved me emotionally. If you have kids that are being bullied, I implore you to try this. Those M&Ms saved my life.