In watching a YouTube video made by a mom who wanted to go and fight her daughter’s battle against a “bully”, I couldn’t help but remember my own child’s trials and tribulations against bullies. I used to step in and fight her battles for her. Did I really do her any favours?
First off, I always went to higher sources. I never dealt with the offender unless that person happened to be a person closer to my age. Yes, they do come even in the form of authority figures. I had gone to battle with a mother who verbally attacked my daughter unfairly for something that was later proven she had no part in. The reality was, I had felt that it was up to that mother to come to me, talk to me and I’d deal with my daughter, not her and certainly not her yelling. That said, I’d always go to an adult in charge versus what that mother did with my daughter.
At a certain point in my daughter’s life, it turned against me for stepping in. Not only did she not learn anything for herself but, it made things worse for her as she’d be bullied for getting her mother to fight her battles for her. She was belittled and she’d come home, hating me for what she had to put up with afterwards.
If you’re a parent who doesn’t like what’s happening to your child, keep a couple of things in mind before you step in to do anything you consider “protecting your child”. You could be doing more harm than good.
- A bully usually hones in on a person’s weakest or most sensitive points and once they get a reaction of hurt, anger or anything, they know that they’ve hit it and will continue to use it because they, themselves, are either lacking in self-esteem or they’ve been hurt or ostracized themselves. Misery loves company.
- When your child is small and cannot deal with bullying, it’s prudent to step in where possible and show them how to deal with these issues. It also shows them that the bully is really powerless if those in authority, react with appropriate actions. If they don’t, taking it directly to that child’s parent(s) may do the trick. Even if nothing else happens, it diminishes the bully’s power in your child’s mind because they realize that the bully has others above his/her heads. The bully isn’t as strong as your child may feel that they are and you’ve proven to your child and the bully that there are consequences to actions and words.
- If it’s a group of children, the same rules apply. Never confront a child/children as an adult. That’s a form of bullying right there.
- By the time your child reaches a certain age, they need to learn how to deal with these types of things appropriately and on their own. Life is filled with “bullies” of all sorts, harsh and hurtful comments and actions. Your child is going to have to deal with Life throughout their lives. They must have the tools and self-love to do so. By you, as their parent, constantly stepping in on their behalf, you’re not teaching them how to respond or react appropriately. You can’t be there 24/7 with them everywhere they go or with every encounter they will have. They need their own tools to work with.
- We all have hurt feelings. Recognize the difference between someone who is bullying and someone who is simply ignorant. Teach your child the differences. Let them talk it out or vent it out then, discern whether it’s true bullying or simply an ignoramus whose uttered something that hurt your child.
- Teach by example. If you have people who have hurt your feelings and your child sees it but, doesn’t see you doing anything about it in one way or another, your child learns by example that it’s ok to take crap from others and not stand up for yourself. That doesn’t mean that you have to react to everything everyone says but, it means that you teach them when it’s appropriate to take action and when it’s time to vent then, brush it off. Lead by example.
- When your child becomes older and especially, is an adult, remember that they may still be your babies that you want to protect but, if you are stepping in at this point and doing the work for them, you’re likely a) leading them towards others who will chastise them for having “Mommy fight their battles for them.” I found that out the hard way and my daughter was furious with me for having done so. Or, b) your grown child will always be someone’s target because they haven’t learned to stand up for themselves. You’ve done them no favours by leaping in head first for them. You’ve actually done them more harm than good.
- Eventually, your child could become a “bully” in return because they know that no matter what flack they take from others, Mommy will jump in for them to save the day.
- Let your child know that you faced similar circumstances if you have and how you dealt with it. The more your child (adult or not) knows that they’re not alone in facing hurts, insults etc., the less large the incident and bully becomes in their minds. Don’t let your child hear you crying and whining about every insulting thing someone has said or done to you but, let them know that it happens to everyone. After all, everyone does face these types of things in Life no matter how “perfect” we all try to be.
- Last but, not least, teach your child from a young age that bullies or ignoramuses are usually low-laying people who have been hurt, themselves. At worst, they have a mental or emotional disorder that doesn’t permit them to gauge situations or others on a proper emotional basis. Once your child understands better, the anatomy and reasonings for bullies and how they pick their prey (sometimes, it’s jealousy) and swoop into weaknesses within that person to get a hurtful reaction, they are going to use it. Educate your child to either disarm someone like this or stand up to them. Sometimes, it’s fighting fire with fire. As a last straw, when nothing else has worked, your child may have to withdraw themselves from that person as much as is possible and simply show NO reaction whatsoever.
Nothing disarms a bully more than taking away their source of hurt within another. If a bully isn’t reacted to with hurt or anger, they don’t get their fix or whatever they set out to get from someone else. If they’re not getting a reaction, they move on and quit. It’s the reaction that they are seeking. An ignoramus who simply lacks filters, will stop and think and even apologize if they have it pointed out to them what they’ve said or done wrongly to their prey. A true bully will look for a person’s weaknesses and once they’ve found them through a reaction of some type or another (i.e.: hurt, anger etc.) they quickly figure out what to aim for and will keep on going as long as they’re getting a reaction from the person. A neutral response might be one such as “ok…so what?” or no response at all and carrying on with daily business as usual. If it keeps up though and is emotionally dragging down the victim to the point of being unable to perform their daily routines, chores, duties or enjoyment etc. then, it’s time to deal with that person on a higher source level. If possible, it’s wise to have nothing to do with that person and cut them off. Yes, it will anger them but, the more quietly it’s done, the faster that person will get the idea that they’ve wasted their efforts. Remember though, this has to be done without emotional shows of upset or he/she will keep it up because they’ve gotten a reaction of upset. That’s what they want.
Every child is different as much as every bully situation or bully is different. It’s tempting to step in and help your child out of the situation but, at a certain point, it’s doing your child more harm than good.
Teach your child how to react properly and appropriately.
Teach them how to love themselves enough to deal with these types of people…both the bullies and the ignoramuses as well as how to do so.
Teach your child how to grow a thicker skin because heaven knows, Life is filled with miserable, lowly, hurtful people and their actions, words and deeds. Everyone needs to know how to toughen up to it because they’re always going to exist.
Most of all, talk to your child about bullies, how they work, why and teach them through example at first, how to do it properly but at a certain point, step out of stepping in to do it for them. Coach them. Give them advice. Let them vent. Let them be open with you and to you about their feelings but, act appropriately to the situation for them and yourself. Let them learn by example. Hurt feelings are part of Life. It’s not what someone else says that hurts but, how your child and you react to it that does the real damage.
Of course, there are always situations that are exceptions. Those exceptions include groups bullying one child, an older child bullying a younger child (showing their mentality and emotional IQ right there) as well as several others where stepping in to help your child, adult or not, is appropriate. Those cannot be ignored especially, if it’s affecting your child’s mental well being. Besides appropriate actions on both of your parts, counselling may be necessary as well as complete removal from the situation or physical place on a permanent basis. However, you also have to ask your child (grown or not) if they can see anything that may have precipitated this group reaction as well. Let’s face it, there are times when our children may not realize that they, themselves have set up those dynamics by their own actions, words or whatever. Make sure that isn’t the case first. If it is, then it’s wise to help your child correct their attitude, actions and even apologize if necessary. Crap in Life happens to us all for differing reasons. It’s not a one size fits all situation or solution by any means.
At least, that’s the way that I’m seeing things from my little corner of life and though my own experiences.
Be well. Love and Light
Have a great day or evening.