This is a topic near and dear to my heart. As an overweight woman who has been big her entire life - as someone who is making an active and conscious attempt to lose weight, despite the difficulties - I've heard the nasty comments and bad words. I've often worried that my children will someday come into contact with cruelty from other children, especially since (for the time being) we plan to utilize the public school system. And of course, it's a possibility. Children can say some pretty mean things, and sometimes they don't think about the immediate repercussions (like a classmate's reaction, or a friend's feelings) before speaking. Sometimes it's an innocent slip or a thoughtless gaffe; more often than not, anymore, it's conscious meanness meant to demean the feelings, thoughts, abilities, looks, or beliefs of another person.
It's easy enough to pass along Biblical proverbs to children whose families adhere to those religions, easy enough to quote religious texts of any kind - but what does a pagan parent say to their kids without trying to give a separate lesson on religion to a young child who may be experiencing bullying (or worse, may be the bully). What am I to do when I can't quote Christ or a disciple easily because my children haven't grown up in that lifestyle, and aren't familiar with the people and characters and stories I know from my experiences?
I know that first of all, there's common sense. While there are a number of religions that have done their best to claim the Golden Rule, Christianity among them, I believe it's a rule that has been around much longer. From the days of bartering for goods, people have understood that in order to get what's best for them, they have to be willing to sacrifice a bit for others - which means being willing and ready to treat others as they'd like to be treated. A family might give up a cow for less produce than it is worth, with the understanding that because they were kind, next time the produce farmer might give a bit more for a little less milk or meat than usual. It's an understood part of life, in my opinion, but a concept that's hard to explain to a young child who isn't having that same treatment returned to them. It's easy to say, but I know from experience it isn't so easy to DO, especially if physical violence becomes a part of it (at which point I intend to raise my children the same way I was raised: you may NEVER throw the first punch, and you are expected to find alternate routes to end the confrontation, but if you seriously feel you have no other option but to fight back, do so minimally to escape).
So now I'm looking for common sense, kid-friendly ways to explain how to deter bullies. I'm new at this parenting thing still, and I don't expect to encounter this for another few years yet, but I want to have an idea of what to do and how to say it when the time comes. Any pagan parents out there have any recommendations, books, things they've said/done that helped their kids that they want to share?