Ok, so here we are again, another one of those, “Hi, I’m Lauren and I am guilty of . . .”
But this time, it’s a bit more serious. This time, I want to admit that at times, I am a bully. (Pause for gasp and eye blink.) I know, I know, those of you who know me are like, “You? No . . .” But, yes I am. And to my other moms, parents, readers . . . you are too!
We all have those moments when we subtly bully our tiny humans into doing things that they don’t want to do. Maybe they want to wear something different than what we prefer. While these things are low-key and intended to render positive outcomes, we still are guilty of bullying our children. But there is great news! We as parents and caregivers can do better and help our children do better as well when it comes to bullying.
(Information sourced from stopbullying.gov.)
- Bullying is negative behavior from one person or group of people to another person that targets them through aggression, such as name calling or fighting.
- Bullying can be indirect or direct, and according to stopbullying.gov, bullying can take these forms: physical, verbal, relational, and damage to property.
- Bullying can happen anywhere.
- Bullying happens the most in middle school.
Parents as Bullies
We as parents sometimes “bully” our children, but we do not bully them by picking on them or making fun of them. Sometimes we bully them by asking things like, “What did everyone else do?” or comparing them to their peers to coerce them to behave in a certain way. Although these things seem minor and subtle, they affect our children in significant ways.
We expose our children to environments where bullying is prevalent such as competitive sports or interactions with aggressive and critical relatives. Often times, the push that is thought to be the most effective can be detrimental.
Lack of communication is also an added feature of parent bullies. When children say something or attest to something that happened at school, sometimes we brush it under the rug and give a quick “Ok”. Sometimes that is not enough. The lack of communication creates a disconnect of the experience between the parent and the child, and that makes the child not feel validated, downplaying their emotions. All of this, in turn, can cause a child to lose confidence in himself and possibly start exhibiting negative behaviors.
Scary, right? The mere thought that we parents bully our children is so scary . . . but like I said before, there are things that we can do to help end this cycle!
Positive Parenting :: Prepare, Promote, Prevent
If you suspect that your child is being bullied or is actively bullying others, there are tons of websites and resources for prevention. Being prepared is the first step in prevention. Websites such as stopbullying.gov break down bullying for parents to understand and to learn to articulate the concept to their children. There are also mentoring programs and local peer groups where children can talk among positive peers and where parents can get insight as well.
Also, let’s promote healthy communication between our children and ourselves. Ask your children about their day, their friends, things that are happening around them. Validate their feelings by being concerned about and compassionate toward their lives. Think about it — a child that is being bullied or is bullying has a large amount of feelings inside that are not being validated. We have to validate them! We have to make our children feel good and feel wanted. We have to let them know that it is okay to be different and be themselves. We have to break the bullying cycle.
When we prepare our minds with available resources and promote healthy communication within our families, we will be able to prevent bullying in many instances.