There are few people who have not experienced bullying at some point in their lives. Many have participated in bullying behavior themselves. My youth included being the target of bullying, along with changes in my own behavior as a reaction to it. When you are bullied you may begin to hold back your feelings, develop debilitating fears, or even become aggressive yourself.
“How we treat one another on a micro-level reverberates out to the universe. Bullying, cruelty, rudeness, and dismissiveness are too often accepted or brushed aside. Good people must embody the opposite spirit and help whoever they can.”
Bullying should never be ignored. There are different ways to go about taking action and getting help, but if bullying isn’t recognized and dealt with, it will only get worse. Often the person being bullied, especially a child, is not in a position to change the dynamic. That is why parents must be aware, notice signs, and take careful, well-thought-out steps to support their kids and do something about the bullying. When we work to stop bullying it can have a positive effect moving forward to stop the chain of abuse.
A bully is suffering in some way, whether from past hurts or an inability to believe in themselves without putting someone else down. They could feel alone, vulnerable, or scared. The bullying could come from their past, or be directly tied to a recent disappointing or painful event or situation in their lives. We need to take care of children who are being targeted for bullying, but the bully also needs help. Try to be mindful of that.
Dealing with Bullying
When kids are being bullied, they often hear the advice “just ignore it.” As well-meaning as those words can be, it is usually not effective to ward off the feelings that come in the aftermath of bullying. Dealing with it from the outside (reporting it to a teacher, supervisor, or the law as applicable, getting outside help, talking directly and calmly to the bully – if possible and practical) and the inside (processing your feelings, learning to let them go, and finding compassion and empathy beyond the hurt) are going to be the most effective approaches. Here are some ways to help deal with bullying.
1. Accept your child for who they are
Any child can fall victim to a bully. Children who do well in school, or stand out in a unique way, are sometimes targeted. Jealousies and the pressure to conform play a role. It is so important to nurture what makes a child who they are, no matter what form that takes. When they set out with a sense of acceptance from their own family, a child or teen who faces bullying will at least have this to call upon within themselves. It doesn’t mean that dealing with a bully will be easy and not hurt, but when our children don’t feel supported as they grow up, the challenges that they face will be all the more overwhelming. It cannot be stated enough; Accept your child for who they are.
2. Listen to your child
With children or teens who are the victims of bullies, communication is key. You must make sure you are listening to your child, and be careful not to project your own feelings and experiences on to theirs. If a memory of a past episode of having been bullied yourself is triggered, try not to convey fear or anger. It can help to take three deep breaths before you say anything to not react too quickly. When we are triggered, we can sometimes react in a way that would have been better served with some thoughtful calmness and objectivity.
3. Ask the right questions of your child
Who is doing the bullying, where, how often, who else is there, etc. Be sensitive to the fact that a parent getting involved can sometimes make things worse. This is one of the major challenges and a very thin line to travel. Obviously, if your child is in danger, you must act and act quickly.
4. Explain why bullying happens
You can help your child by talking to them about trying to be able to see the bully as someone who is suffering in a way that has manifested as cruelty to others. Explain how negative feelings that are not expressed in a healthy way can turn into bullying. The bully is in emotional pain and probably very insecure. By putting someone else down, they feel superior, although only temporarily. A child can try to avoid being in harm’s way by being with others and not where the bully will be able to victimize them easily. At times it’s fitting for your child to respond to a bully with kindness, though often it’s more appropriate for them to just walk away. Each situation is different. You can help your child build the skills to decide.
Cyberbullying is faceless and seemingly out of control. If you know that your child is being bullied online, speak up, do what you can to get to the root of it. It can be nearly impossible for someone – especially a teen who is trying to figure out their identity and longs for social acceptance – to see the bigger picture beyond the cyber abuse. You can limit the use of the technologies and try your best to report the bullying.
We can work on healing our planet by acts of support, caring, and kindness with the people around us. Whether it is your child, a friend, or even a stranger standing in line with you at a movie theater, how we treat one another on a micro-level reverberates out to the universe.
Bullying, cruelty, rudeness, and dismissiveness are too often accepted or brushed aside. Good people must embody the opposite spirit and help whoever they can. @DerekONeill101 (Click to Tweet!)
Derek O’Neill, fondly referred to as the Celtic Sage, inspires and uplifts people from all walks of life, offering guidance to influential world leaders, businesses, celebrities, athletes and everyday people alike. Distilled from his life work in psychotherapy, a martial arts career and study with wise yogis and Indian and Tibetan masters, Derek translates ancient wisdom into modern day teachings to address the biggest challenges facing humanity today. For additional insights listen to his free radio archives, order his new book ‘Bullying: You Won’t Beat Me’ or join him in Los Angeles or New York in March for his Paths of Consciousness Tour.
Image courtesy of Matheus Bertelli.