Let’s have a look at the mentality of “bullying”
> It is a narcissistic, power of intimidation or influence that typically forces someone to do or be something the bully wants them to. It is the harassment and abuse of one’s power; mentally or physically, that makes them feel superior to their victim, causing them hardship.
That about sums it up.
Historically, every significant war, or powerful leader, in essence has been bullying their followers or victims. Every school yard, every classroom, every human being at one point or another has been either bullied, or HAS been the bully.
It’s all about conflict and ego. It’s about morals and ethics. It stems from culture and fear. You are a victim, or a bully. It comes from the environment you are raised in, or the world you live in. It exists in all age groups, all races, all genders and every country. There is a human in every group, every family, and every generation who believes that they have more power and superiority than the person next to them, and when they act on that power, they become “The Bully”.
As a child, I was bullied relentlessly for being “poor”. As an adult, I was bullied in my office, by someone who appeared to be my friend, and it is an easy trap to fall into, without suspecting it. Bullying is about the struggle to show your power against another human being. It is the aggressiveness to make someone look weak against your strength. It is a fact of life, and how you deal with it, or choose to handle it, is what is crucial.
Children learn about bullying continuously in school now. There are all sorts of Anti-Bullying policies read and signed by parents, and it is an open discussion in classrooms to help children understand what it means to be the victim or the bully. Perhaps it helps to “enlighten” kids and maybe it does reach the intellect and heart of kids, on various levels, yet it is still ongoing.
There are a multitude Anti-Bullying children’s books, colouring books, movies, cartoons, and other ways of educating kids of this generation, yet we hear all the time that cyber bullying is a huge issue. We hear all the time on the News how Hazing still exists in schools. There are shootings at schools, there are public anti-racist movements in colleges and there are continual battles with the Trump policies about building walls to disallow humans of race to enter the US. Is this not a form of Bullying?
If we look at children as toddlers; you see two little ones reaching for the same toy- one takes it from the other, leaving the toyless child sobbing. What do we do? We give the crying child a DIFFERENT toy. The strength of the child with the sought after toy, wins. That is no different from where we are as adults. If you empower your children, by letting them win everything they want, while providing the other child with a lesser item, this is where the “power” begins to grow. This is where entitlement comes from.
Teaching kids the values of sharing, kindness and relinquishing their power to be a good human, is what is necessary. Promote turn taking, and allow the other child to feel what it’s like to not have the toy, if that’s what it takes. Just because a toddler cries for a moment, doesn’t mean they are dying. It means they are communicating. This is how they learn empathy and compassion for one another. If one child feels what the other has felt, it triggers a reality. You may not see it that way as a parent, because the child has not learned the words to express their feelings, but it’s how they learn. It’s okay to allow your child to feel anger, sadness, or frustration. It’s dangerous to protect them from those emotions.
By the same token, in the schoolyard, a preteen picks on a peer for not being able to afford designer clothing. The child is relentless and cruel, saying things like, “Your parents are poor. You have ugly clothes from Walmart”. If that child wearing Walmart clothes comes home sobbing, you don’t take them out and spend $150.00 on new jeans for them. You teach them HOW to handle the situation. If the situation becomes violent or begins to torture the child mentally, you need to address it, by instilling strength and values in your child. If need be, you have a discussion with the other child’s parent, or the school staff, or you call out the other child for being a bully. How else will anyone learn from such troubling situations?
In life, there will ALWAYS be someone who thinks they are smarter, stronger, richer, faster, prettier, skinnier, or better than you. Sometimes they will enforce their superiority in an aggressive or passive aggressive way, making you feel like you are beneath them. IT IS UP TO YOU to change this mentality. It is up to you to not be victimized by your competition.
Parents need to provide their children with critical tools to keep them from being victimized and to keep them from becoming bullies. Children need to have self-esteem and acknowledgement in their strengths and their weaknesses as they learn to socially interact with others. It’s okay to not be the BEST at everything, but it’s not okay to use your best qualities or skills as weapons to make others feel badly.
The lady bully in my office was convinced that I was trying to compete for a leadership position on our team. I hadn’t even thrown my hat into the ring to compete for the job, but she somehow thought I had. She applied for the role, as did one of my closest colleagues. This lady relentlessly bullied me, completely unaware that I hadn’t applied and that my friend had.
Day in and day out, she would approach me with snarky remarks and odd questions, eyeing me up and down. I saw her standing in the kitchen by my desk on a few occasions, glaring at me. It was very strange, as I was a new staff and felt like, she, a senior colleague, had leverage . I was intimidated by her, even at 44 years old.
A week before the announcement of the candidate who was promoted came out, I was called to our manager’s office. Completely oblivious and naive, I sat down, smiling, and not aware that I was about to be reprimanded. It had been reported that I was inappropriately dressed at the office two days prior. This would be on my permanent “record”.
Two days prior, at 4:35 pm, I had gone into the public restroom to change for a date night to Circ de Soliel. When I came out of the washroom, I was wearing high heels and a nice, summer dress with spaghetti straps. It is a bit low cut and something I only wear on hot summer nights and on dates with my guy. I would NEVER wear this outfit for work.
“Someone” reported me, stating that I was wearing something very seductive and revealing and should not be allowed to wear such clothing in the office. We are off work at 4:30 pm.
My manager looked at me with compassion when we discussed the situation. She knew that I knew who it was that lodged the complaint but it was left unspoken. When the announcement came out that bully-lady didn’t get the promotion, but my friend did, I witnessed the bully verbally attacking my friend in our shared office. She came in to “congratulate” her on the new role, all the while, yelling at her about how incompetent and unprofessional she was. I went to my manager’s office, and brought her back to mine and my friend’s shared space so she could observe the ruthlessness.
I never spoke a word about the complaint against me. I did, however, speak to my boss and told her that I cannot and WILL NOT work with that woman. Since then, the bully has changed roles, and is no longer my concern. She moved onto a different department because she had lost the competition for the third time. It seems that the hiring committee knew of her history of bullying and deemed her a “poor fit” for the leadership role.
That was a huge life lesson for me. I wish that when I was young, my parents would have taught me the skills I know now as an adult. Sometimes no reaction is the best reaction, and sometimes, you just need to pull out the right tools, in order for the bullies to stop. I hope that the bully learned a few lessons from this as well, as she was “spoken to” about how she treated my colleague, before changing departments.
It starts at home.
Teach your kids that there will always be someone who thinks that they are more powerful than they are. It’s a part of life. Don’t teach them to strike back, or to shake it off. If they do that, it never goes away.
Teach your children to NEVER hide it, and to be open and honest about what the bully says or does, to hurt their feelings or their bodies. Be open to them and always remind them to be open with you. You are not able to help them if they don’t talk about it. Make sure they know that someone will always be there to help, whether it’s you as a parent, a teacher, a friend’s parent, a minister, or a therapist.
Tell them about bullies and educate them on what bully-ism is. Help them understand what “power” means and why it’s important to be kind and gracious to others. Encourage the joys of winning, and the humbleness of pride.
Surround your kids with culture, diversity and adversity and show them the joys of giving, rather than receiving. In-still compassion and empathy by being role models and showing affection and connection. Most importantly, teach them the golden rule; do unto others as you would like done to you.
Teaching children right from wrong, and helping them to see what it’s like to feel positively powerful is an invaluable strength. Strength can be as simple as walking away when someone is tormenting them and going home to talk about it. Strength can be a victimized child walking into the school to tell a teacher that he/she is being bullied. Strength is in the communication of feelings and emotions that are provoked by a bully, just to get it out in the open and to get help.
If your child is a bully, they need help too. They need to understand what it’s like to feel shame or feel unworthy, which is touchy, because “bullying them back” is never the answer. They need lessons on sharing with others, believing in themselves and staying humble. Often times these children become bullies because they are touted as “perfect” at home, and can do no wrong. They hold a high standard for themselves and for their parents and don’t now how to communicate compassion. They need to comprehend their weaknesses. Alternatively, they are the children who are bullied by their parents or siblings at home, and it trickles down through their own learned behaviors. Parents need to evaluate the child’s environment and learn the triggers of a bullying behaviour. The child needs help to diffuse the trigger so that their children develop compassion and empathy for others.
Bullying will always have a place in our world. It is inherently designed in our DNA and in our past generations. There will always be victims and there will always be perpetrators, but if we start at home, and teach them as soon as they reach for that first toy that another child is holding on tightly to, there’s a chance that such behaviours can be nipped in the bud, before they ripple into the next level of socialization and interaction with peers.
Saying things like, “We need to share and take turns”, rather than, “Here’s a different toy so your friend can have that one” creates a power struggle and a competition before children even begin to talk. One toddler learns the value of settling for second best, while the other child learns that they hold the power.
If your child goes to school and has the highest grades, or is the best hockey player on the team, or is the strongest or fastest student, as parents, it’s crucial to teach them to help others to improve their skills, rather than feel superior. Teach them to share their wealth of knowledge to boost others up, rather than knock them down.
You would never visit a third world country, sipping from a bottle of spring water, while the children are in the middle of a drought and are dying of thirst. Right? You would be compelled to share your water to help those in need. This mentality needs to be taught to our children.
The same can be said for stealing. You would never encourage your kids to go into a convenience store and pocket anything they want to without paying. Bullies are essentially stealing from others as well. They are stealing their victim’s strength, self-esteem and mental/physical well-being. They are stealing a part of another child that may or may not ever be built back again. If you have ever been bullied, you understand the analogy.
Children need to have a capacity of resilience, problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-awareness, self-esteem, and conscience.
Teach your children to be humble, kind and thoughtful, and the rest will follow.