/’buli/: A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
Let’s face it, if your child came back home from school with a bruised eye and a torn school shirt stained with blood, you would freak out. Especially if you found out that he/she has been hit by a school mate. You would probably call the school demanding that they should suspend or expel the culprit. And of course, that is a normal reaction to all of this.
Jaden Smith, who was bullied in the 2010 karate kid remake
But what if it was the other way round? What if you are the one receiving a call from the school principle asking you to come fetch your child because he/she has hit another child? How would you react? A few weeks ago I came across a tweet from a lady who tweeted that, she just found out that her child is a bully. So she took her child to the park, spanked her in front of the victim and then made her child apologize at her victim. And of course, this tweet received a lot of reactions, some people criticized the mother for spanking the child and others applauded her behavior. People tweeted “good, she has learnt her lesson’’ and “children need to know and learn that bullying is wrong’’.
According to a survey that was published in The Times live (24 January 2013) (The survey was based on 2 064 pupils aged between 13 and 21), 68 percent pupils were worried about being physically assaulted or threatened with a weapon at school. 71 % of the females said they felt threatened compared to 63%of the males. While 52% said they have experienced bullying through teasing and insults and 26% said it was characterized by being pushed or hot. And 16% said they have been cyber bullied.
Your child could be a bully and you may not even be aware of it. Let’s take a look at different types of bullying:
- Physical: Involves hitting, shoving, pushing, tripping etc.
- Social: Hurtful comments, name calling, teasing etc.
- Verbal: Relationships to hurt someone, excluding them, spreading rumors and silent treatment
- Cyber bullying: Happens over the internet
Why do kids bully?
- Imitating what they see in the media (television, comic books, computer games etc)
- Lack of attention from home
- Mirroring behavior from home
- Low self esteem
- Wanting to be popular and feared
So, how can you STOP your child from bullying?
- Talk to your child: Your child may not be aware of what they are doing. They probably aren’t even aware about how their behavior impacts their victims. While I was busy writing this blog, I had a conversation with our Business Development manager, who is a mother to two girls aged 3 and 6. She mentioned how her 3 year old is constantly bullying her older sister and she always calls her out but her behavior never changes. So, a few weeks ago, she took the girls out for lunch and while they were waiting for their order the girls decided to go play at the kid’s area. A few minutes later, her youngest daughter came crying and telling her that she was beaten by one of the kids. And her reaction to all of this is actually funny; she asked to her toddler “did it feel nice when the other child pushed you? Did you like it when the other child pushed” and her answers were no and the mother concluded the conversation by saying to her daughter “this is how your sister feels when you bully her around. You need to stop”. My colleague also mentioned a very important point when she said to me that a lot of parents are aware that their kids are bullies, but they turn a blind eye, what comes to your mind when your child is playing with a toy that you don’t recognize or never bought? Where do you think it comes from? We need to pay extra attention and discipline from home. We need to sit down with our kids and have a conversation with them.
- Explore reasons for behavior:
A lot of bullies are quite liked and very popular amongst their peers and they want to maintain their status. Some may be bullies because they do not get enough attention from their parents; some may be mirroring the behavior from their parents (or even role model). Try exploring the issues or influences that may be causing your child your child to act in this manner.
- Teach forgiveness, compassion and love:
Once you find out what is really bothering your kids, encourage them to move past it and not have resentment. Teach them to forgive those who have hurt them and encourage them to ask their victims for forgiveness. Teach them to love and share everyone around them.
- Discourage your kids from viewing violent content:
Kids always want to imitate what they see on tv, online and read. Age restrictions on tv and toys are there for a reason, please follow them accordingly.
If ever your child is a bully, do not protect them and try to cover up for their behavior. It may be difficult to manage or deal with the situation. If you encounter any problems while dealing this issue, it is advisable to seek professional help. Contact a child psychologist and make an appointment for your child. Bullying is not acceptable.
Image source: Google