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What Is Bullying
There are no real statistics to show when bullying has started. If we were to dig as deep as we could, we would probably find that bullying has been around since the beginning of time.
Experts define bullying as repeated and unwanted behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. In essence, for an act to be considered bullying, it needs to be:
- Repeated, and
- Resulting in a Power Imbalance
Names Do Hurt
But how do you even begin to define this to a 9 year old in primary school? Or your 13 year old in middle school? Or even your 16 year old in high school?
As parents, we try to teach our children to be kind – to reach out to those in need, to share what we have, and always see the good in others. That is, after all, what we are told we should be doing to raise good human beings.
The fact of the matter is that bullies do exist. And what no one tells us how to teach our children to stand up to these bullies.
Sure, we’ve all heard the good old saying – “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” – and if you’re like me and many others, you will have also recited this to your own kids.
Look – you and I both know that names DO HURT; even at our age. And for your child who has been in this world for less than a decade; trust me, those names are cutting.
Related Post: Why You Should Tell Your Daughters They Are Beautiful
Talking to Your Child About Bullying
My partner Wayne and I regularly talk to the children. Every night, we all sit down to dinner and catch up on the day. As the kids tell us about things that have happened, we pick up some points from the chatter.
Most recently for example, we were talking about politics – (don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about Trump). We live in New Zealand; and in the last few days, our new government was formed. So naturally, this came to the table as the children were made to “cast their votes” in school.
Now, one of the conversations we recently had was about bullying. BUT WAIT! What I found to be interesting is that the children didn’t use the word bullying. They saw it as boys being mean.
They talked about how some boys at school were calling another girl a gold digger. Yes – a gold digger. But, let me put that in the right context.
A boy and girl were dating for about a week or so, before they broke up (don’t forget, it’s middle school). During this time, the boy had gifted his girlfriend with some lollies, chocolate bars, and a bracelet from the local dollar store. The young girl was worried that he would get in trouble with his parents for spending too much, and told him to stop giving her gifts. She returned the dollar store bracelet to him.
With his heart in pieces, the boy broke it off with his girlfriend. And from there on, began the the name-calling.
To this 12 year old boy, the girl was a gold-digger. He and his friends followed her around school, calling her a gold-digger. And get this – they also told other boys not to date her. For about a week, she spent her lunch breaks in the toilets, crying.
While it may seem like nothing to us adults, we mustn’t forget how real it is for these children.
(For the record, I learned that Miss 12 and her friends would go into the toilets with their friend and to try and comfort her.)
It’s Not Okay
Now see – from the perspective of the kids, they did not perceive this to be bullying. They thought it was boys being mean. When we asked them what they thought bullying was, they replied saying that bullying was when kids beat up other kids; or gave them wedgies, and shoved them into school lockers.
It astounded me, but then I quickly realized that THIS is what they learn from TV shows, movies, and YouTube.
And let’s not forget about social media! It makes me SO angry to see so many videos floating around social media these days, highlighting kids and young people fighting for really stupid reasons. Kids (and adults) taking videos, instead of doing something or getting some help to stop it.
At their young, impressionable ages – children are learning that bullying is bullying only when there is physical violence involved.
Imagine this with me
To demonstrate to the children that bullying begins with words, I took a serviette – remember we were having dinner then.
I took a serviette and handed it to Miss 9. I asked her to crumple it; and pass it on to Miss 12. She did.
I asked Miss 12 to tear of a piece of the serviette; and hand it over to Wayne. She did.
I asked Wayne to wipe his mouth with it; and pass it back on to me. He did.
I then took the serviette, and tried to smooth it out. Without success, I held it up for the kids to see. The serviette that was once clean and smooth, was now wrinkled, torn, and dirtied.
We talked about how the smallest of words – the shove here, the push there… these all contribute to the pain of the person who receives it. And while it may not be obvious right up front, harsh words and “being mean” to others have strong implications on their well-being.
Teach Your Child About Bullies
This is what we told them:
- Bullying begins with one person trying to have power over another.
- What they allow, is what will continue.
- Bullies want to see you lose, so they can feel like they are winning. YOU can win, if you don’t let them continue by not showing you are upset. The more upset you are, the more fun the bully is having.
- Physical violence is NOT bullying. Physical violence is a CRIME.
- Bring it home. The older our children get, the less they tell us what is going on at school or in their lives. Encourage and foster an environment that they feel is their own safe place.
We then explained to the girls that every little thing someone says or does to another will either empower or destroy them; and that the silence of others is what gives these bullies the power to keep going.
Bullying, which has become pandemic, can be stopped at home. We need to educate our kids; and learn how to treat them as little human beings.
Now, let me say that I do realize that there is more to this – nurture vs nature – but I’m not going to into that this time. But while you’re here – I’ve got a free gift for you. Check it out below!
Bonus for You and Your Kids
Click here to get the FREE Kids’ Daily Dose of Awesome printable and remind your children how awesome they are 7 days a week! I’ve also included a free template so that you can customize it and fill it in yourself too.