I hear from parents of children who are victims of bullying at an alarming rate. They are looking for insight, advice and suggestions to help their children.
There is nothing new about bullying. Ask anyone who has completed their school years and you will hear story after story of when they were bullied or of someone they knew who was bullied.
But parents today are fed up with the entire scenario and are speaking out to officials in the school systems, teachers, other parents, and to anyone else willing to listen!
While sharing their story, most parents begin by stating that they have raised their child to be kind, compassionate and loving and that he/she does not deserve to be victimized by this horrible, hateful, mean spirited and cruel child.
Now, before I share my thoughts with you, let me state that in NO way do I condone bullying of any kind in any way, shape or form.
Bullying is wrong and is NOT to be tolerated.
The effects of bullying can be devastating to a child. In fact, it can be so traumatizing that research has shown that it can leave emotional scars that carry into adulthood where they are found to be responsible for a host of psychological issues that cause great pain and suffering.
Bullying must be stopped!
My response is simple…
You won’t stop a bully by responding out of anger.
We must first reach back to the place where we taught OUR children to be kind, compassionate, and loving. Ask yourself if your intention was for them to be kind, compassionate and loving ONLY when they were met with kindness and compassion and love?
Next we must examine, from a place of compassion, what would make a child behave in such a horrible and negative way to want to inflict pain on others.
Research shows and professionals agree that a child who chooses to bully is most often acting out the results of his own unhappiness or what he has been taught.
Renowned author, Louise Hay, offers a terrific example of how a person with a scowling face would not have produced that by having joyous, loving thoughts!
What that tells us is that a child who is angry enough to want to inflict pain onto another child is not coming from a very positive or happy place. When this is put into perspective, the only place for a kind, loving and compassionate person to go is to respond out of kindness, love and compassion.
My suggestion to parents of children who are being bullied is to…
* First, talk with your child and explain how in reality it is extremely sad that the child who is mistreating them is most likely a very unhappy person. This will reinforce in your child’s mind that they did nothing to deserve this treatment and it is in no way their fault. This will encourage them to bring forth their sense of compassion.
* Second, ask your child how they would feel if they didn’t have the loving, supportive family that they have with you. Ask them what they think they would be like if you had not been there for them, loving them and teaching them to be kind and compassionate…would they have known how important it is to have these qualities if they had not had you as parents. This will remind them of the importance of love.
* Next, guide them to understand that the child who is inflicting pain upon them is in fact in pain himself. Give them examples of times when they were upset or angry and acted out of those negative feelings in a way that only created more negativity. And most importantly use those examples as proof that they were not a bad person because of how they acted, only misguided at the time. This will help them learn to look deeper into unpleasant situations with a nonjudgmental eye.
* Finally, help them look at the situation to see if there is a better way to respond to the person bullying them than with negativity or dislike. Suggest they work with you to look for any possible way to resolve it in positive way.
Notably, each situation is different. However, at times, a creative parent can help their child find ways to connect with the bullying child in a way that is specific to his/her situation.
An example of this happened to me when I was about 8 yrs old…
There was a girl in my class, who from day one, decided I was someone she was determined to pick on. The bullying ran the gambit of name-calling to physically pushing me and taking my lunch to intimidating others to not be friends with me.
When I had experienced enough, (several weeks) I went to my parents. My father knew the family background of the child (I’ll refer to her as Sue). He explained to me that Sue did not have a father. He had left her family when Sue was very young and because of that her mother had to go to work to support them. Sue was left alone much of the time.
My father suggested that it was possible that Sue directed her anger towards me because I DID have a father and a family that was very involved in everything I did.
He also suggested that instead of riding the bus to school the next day (which was when Sue was usually awaiting my arrival), he would drive me to school and together we would approach Sue and invite her to go with us to the local fair that was in town!
To be honest, I thought my father had lost his mind! I thought Sue would probably be nice to me in front of my father but as soon as he left she would return to her cruel ways. I was absolutely sure she would not accept the invitation. No way would she want to spend time with me. She hated me! Or so I thought…
Although she was hesitant, Sue did accept. She came with us to the fair and at first seemed a bit reluctant to let go and have fun. It was if she didn’t trust that she was actually wanted…that we did want her to be with us and enjoy the fair. As the day went on, we all actually did have a fun day. I could see that Sue was drawn to my father just as you would expect any child without a father would be.
My father treated Sue the same as he treated all of us. He was really good with kids and making them at feel at home. One of our family traditions was that he always took turns riding with each of us on the Ferris wheel and when he said, “Come on Sue, it’s your turn,” she had the biggest smile on her face!
I remember thinking that for as long as I had known her, I had never seen her smile before…Monday came and it was time to go back to school. The bullying stopped.
In time, Sue and I actually did become friends, although I think she enjoyed being with my family more than being with just me. That was okay. My father had explained that what Sue really wanted all along was to be loved and to be able to experience being a part of a family with a father. She just didn’t know how to go about getting it.
What parents must remember when their child is victimized by the horrors of being bullied is that the child doing the bullying is a victim too.
Regrettably, not all bullying situations can be alleviated through this type of approach. Some situations will unfortunately require more drastic steps be taken by involving authorities.
But before taking action out of anger and negativity, take some time to determine if your child’s situation can be handled with kindness, compassion and love.
It may not be just your child’s life you are impacting.