Bullying makes me sad and angry. I have been bullied as both a child and an adult and I have also done some bullying. I daresay that is true for most of us, if we are honest with ourselves. It hurts me to see other people, especially children being hurt and feeling helpless. When I have been the bully, I don’t feel very good either (this is important, so remember that!). There are cries for schools and parents to take care of the bullying problem, but the issue I see with that is, no matter how much we like to think we can, we cannot MAKE someone else do what we think is right. Yes, parents and schools should impose consequences but we also must empower the victims and teach them how to stand up for themselves.
As long as there have been people, there has been bullying. Look in the bible and you will see stories of bullying from Genesis throughout the entire bible. The bible even tells us how to handle bullying in Romans 12:20: “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head”.
Here are my thoughts on this subject. I am by no means an expert, but maybe something here will help someone.
- If you have never heard of Dr. Becky Bailey or her Conscious Discipline program, I urge you to immediately check out her website and resources and get her Conscious Discipline book, if possible. http://consciousdiscipline.com/
- Take deep breaths. You will be amazed at how much calmer you can handle a situation if you take some breaths first.
- Teach children to take deep breaths.
- Encourage children to come to you when something happens (whether you are the parent or the teacher). This is not tattling! Children need to know you are a safe person to tell when something is not right! Do not belittle the child and whatever you do, do not let them be a “victim”. Teach them how to use their strong voice to go back and tell the aggressor, “I don’t like it when you do that.” A strong voice is a firm voice with no whining or yelling. Have them practice with you first and go with them to help them talk to their aggressor.
- If you witness a bullying event, go to the child who was hurt first. Going to the aggressor teaches them that their actions warrant your first attention. Some of them will continue to be aggressive simply for the attention.
- Remember that the child who IS being the aggressor is likely also hurting inside. Remember what I said about the times I’d been a bully? I did not feel good about it in my heart. These children need our help and love also.
- If your child is being bullied, help them develop their self-confidence and the ability to stand up and say enough. When my brother was being bullied, my parents enrolled him in karate. It gave him the internal confidence to finally put an end to it. Not by harming the other child, but having the guts to say STOP!
- Teach children to walk away when necessary and distance themselves from the situation. Sometimes standing up for yourself will not put a stop to the situation. This is a sad fact of life. In those cases, it is best to walk away and move on. This is not being weak or giving in, it is simply moving on.
- If your child is the bully-impose consequences. These consequences should be logical and have to do with the specific event. Is your child bullying someone online? They should lose all online privileges. Is your child bullying someone in the locker room? They should lose the right to play that sport. But more than imposing consequences; please strive to get to the bottom of the problem and get help for your child. If your child is being the aggressor, your child is hurting too!
- Last and most importantly, pray, pray, pray!! Pray for the people being bullied. Pray for those doing the bullying (remember, they are hurting too). Just pray!!!