Its a hard fast fact that most children at school will get bullied at some point in their lives in todays society. It is also a fact that many adults will become targets of bully's in the workplace or in their friendship circles. As an adult its a little more insiduous and passive aggressive than in the school yard but it amounts to the same level of pain and confusion for the target of the bully's attention. Today I'll focus on children being bullied and at some point I will have a look at adult bullying and how that takes place. Lets have a look at the variations of bullying that can occur:
1. Physical bullying
2. Verbal bullying - sadly a phrase such as "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" has done a lot to keep this one in a dark place but it is absolutely a form of bullying.
3.Psychological bullying - a little more insiduous and harder to pinpoint manipulation is usually used here or intimidation or passive/aggressive methods. Can be very confusing to the victim.
4. Social Bullying - mimicking, spreading of lies etc
5. Cyber Bullying - a particularly hard one for parents to pick up and a very serious form of bullying that is on the rise in youngsters.
It is hard for a parent to watch their child being bullied and not be able to do anything about it. If it's particularly bad then talking to the schools and teachers to make them aware is an absolute must. Teachers, parents and the children involved have to work together to find a solution. Remembering that bullies are made not born is a really wise foundation to have and as hard as it is for a parent of a bully its necessary that you take a strong look at why your child is behaving in such a way. It also gives a level of empathy towards the bully which is important because the child is still a human being with feelings, emotions and an internal world.
For the target of the bully's attention here are a few tips if you find yourself the target:
1 As much as you can walk away. Walk right away, leave the surrounding area and seek out kind friendly people.
2. Speak up for yourself directly - use a joke to disarm or tell the person calmly and clearly to leave you completely alone. Then walk away.
3. Ask a friend to be with you and confide in the friend what is happening to you. People are harder to pick on in pairs and you have a right to ask your friend to support you if that friend says no find a friend who will they are out there.
4. If you feel brave enough seek the advice and support of your parents or a mentor that your trust.
I think what is also really important for the child being bullied is to know it's not their fault. A bully is a particular breed of chid, psychological studies show that a child who becomes a bully exhibits early behavioural symptoms of being a bully. Aggressive behaviour develops early and it is not corrected by the parent as they often put it down to them 'just being kids'.
Most bully's have a downward spiralling behaviour in life unless something in the course of their lifespan is corrected. They will often have problems in friendships, relationships, work etc. Many bully's are having difficulties at home or with their family dynamic and often when this is looked at and sorted out the bullying behaviour will re-correct itself. However, in my experience it takes a strong parent to admit they need help with their child and that it is their child that is the problem not everyone else. This rarely happens.
Bully's do pick on specific types of children this is no fault of the child being picked on of course but they identify with certain characteristics that make it easier for them to dominate their targets. Unfortunately they will hone in on children with sensitive, cautious and quiet natures. This type of child is less well equipped to stand up to a bully as its not their nature to be assertive and they would rather just "cop it."
They will often target weaker, smaller children due to them being able to physically dominate or overpower that child more easily. Psychologically we say that the targets of the bully 'radiates an anxious vulnerability'. This can be so hard for the parents of these type of children as not only is that their nature but what can be done about helping them?
Here are a few suggestions:
1 Martial Arts - great form of self discipline for self confidence and assertion, start your child early if you notice any of the above qualities.
2. Art/drama/dance - any of these creative outlets will give your child an internal strength and world they can rely on to express how they feel. Drama Therapists do fantastic work with children who are being bullied.
3. Start putting your child into more social situations, camps, scouts, holiday sports etc the more exposure your child has to society the more able they will be to dealing with all sorts of people - hopefully.
4. Talk to your child a lot about their feelings and how to talk with people, read them lots of books on feelings and emotions and how to deal with feeling and emotions.
5. Be on their side. Most importantly, don't tell them to 'stop being so shy' or 'don't be so sensitive' these are incredible qualities to have as a child and directed correctly your child could be the next mozart or bill gates. They are qualities that a lot of geniuses possess so don't dismiss them because they don't fall in the norm of society.
6. Have an honest look at how your family dynamics work with your child who is being bullied. Is there anything you can do as a family unit that will strengthen their sense of self and assertion?
It is hard dealing with bullying either for the parent of the bully or the child being bullied. However the sooner you nip it in the bud the better for everyone. Do not ignore your childs aggressive nature even if they are young, correct it. Read lots of empathic books or model empathy for them by being kind, caring and emotional with them.
I was bullied quite badly at most of my schools much to the surprise of people. It was because I was a very sensitive and emotional child. I had the luck of being very physically strong and athletic and personally I think this saved me from being completely isolated and ostracised, however the scars from being bullied lasted a long time and I trusted very few people until I realised it would never happen to me again. I had a confidant to talk to who constantly believed in me and I had my writing as an outlet and dancing so I feel that these were my saving graces. I also learnt to stand up for myself through the help of my mentor (my granddad) and this above all else potentially saved me from being a constant target.
Take it very seriously if your child tells you they are being bullied, it is a very serious situation. And if your child is aggressive or you are told by teachers or other parents your child has been hitting or hurting other children again take it very seriously. If your child is old enough to be at school interacting on a social level then your child is old enough to learn social behaviors that are unacceptable.