What is bullying?

bullyingBullying is defined as unwanted negative behaviour whether verbal, physical or psychological directed by an individual or a group against another person and which is repeated over time.

This behaviour can be name calling, exclusion, isolation or intimidation or cyber bullying.  The effect of the child or teenager can be devastating and the experience can have a damaging effect on the individual.

How do you spot someone is being bullied?

The child or teen may become anxious or move away from friends, be nervous about walking to school or returning home. In fact, they may not wish to go to school at all which can be difficult for the parent to handle.  You may notice they seem less sure, less confident in themselves. They may be more withdrawn, less communicative and look unhappy.  Often, they present with physical symptoms whether stomach pains or a headache, and their performance at school may be affected.

Why does someone bully?

Rather than call them a ‘bully’, we need see it as a challenging behaviour and that both the ‘bully’ and the victim need help. A challenging behaviour is when you think that one person is trying to make another person’s life difficult. We need to take another look. The person with a bullying behaviour is unconsciously trying to draw attention to how difficult life is for them. It is a cry for help.  Some reasons for bullying can be:

  • They may have been bullied themselves.
  • There may be a lack of boundaries in their home.
  • They are likely to suffer from poor self esteem
  • There may have been a death or separation in their home

The aim is to develop empathy in the ‘bully’ through working with them to see how they would feel if this happened to them day after day. Once they come to a place where they may say ‘I guess I would not like it’ they can see if from the ‘victim’ point of view. Try to focus on the cause of the behaviour rather than focus on who is to blame. As Henry Ford said ‘I am interested in finding a solution’

Why is one a victim and not another?

The child who is likely to be the ‘victim’ may also be insecure. This means they may personalise what the bully says, when another child may tell the bully to ‘Buzz off and leave us alone!’ This child is less empowered and less likely to assert themselves in this way. The ‘victim’ in many ways identifies with what the ‘bully’ says and therefore ‘takes it on’ and it is a fit. The other child who asserted themselves, has not identified with what the bully said and as there is no fit, the bully moves away from the assertive person to find someone who reacts to what they say. The bully is always looking for a reaction.

What to do if your child is being bullied?

  • Do not panic
  • Do not treat them as the victim
  • Do not go to the teacher without speaking with your child
  • Do not ‘fix’ as your child needs to be empowered through being involved in decisions and if you rush into say ‘Let me deal with this’ the child is further disempowered. Your child finding solutions and being involved will empower them.
  • Tell them it is not their fault
  • The bully has the problem, not them
  • Listen, but do not interrogate

Empower the child through being involved

Ask the child open questions to empower them and for them to be involved in decisions.

‘What would you like to happen?’

‘What do you think you could do?’

‘How would you like to fix this?’

‘What will we tell the teacher?’

‘Will I pretend to be the teacher?’

‘When are you going to say it?’

‘What are you going to say?’

‘Where are you going to say it?’

Build Self Esteem to bulletproof your child or teen

Build self-esteem in the child through lots of one to one time as well as giving them opportunities to try new things so they feel more competent and confident. Martial arts can help in making them feel empowered.

Bullying and your child