Do any of us understand what it means to be bullied? Maybe we remember being made fun of on the playground or at recess. Some of us were belittled about our grades or achievements. But in today’s world do we really understand what it feels like to be bullied?
Try to empathize with this boy. Someone begins to degrade his character. At first, people don’t seem to pay much attention. Then the he (the target) makes some mistake just like all people make mistakes. But this is different because he is the target. Everything changes. In a healthy world, those who were affected by the mistake would let him know with constructive criticism. Then he could make amends and make sure that the mistake doesn’t happen again.
In a world where kindness, empathy, forgiveness and understanding are not present, the scenario is different. The bully can take a grain of truth and twist it so that those who witnessed the mistake will more easily believe the bully. Then is when a successful assassination of the target’s character takes place.
The target begins to see changes in the people around him. At first the changes are minor and he wonders if he is imagining it and brushes the thoughts away. Some people ask questions and innocently the target answers not realizing that his words will be twisted and used against him.
With the internet and teenagers, the damage is magnified. A text, an email, a post or a conversation can be passed along with great speed. The bully began solo but then more and more get on the “band wagon” and work with one goal in mind. They want to hurt the target for some reason.
To be continued.
A mother hears her daughter badmouthing someone and worries that she is a bully. Later she finds out that her daughter is texting her friends about the same boy. She is saying unkind things and seems to take pleasure in putting him down.
The mother knows that her daughter is a good person and tries to find a way to teach her about the damage that she is doing. She wants her to understand the effect that her words will have on the boy so that she will stop being a bully. She wants her to understand that words cannot be taken back. She wants to teach her daughter empathy and how it would feel if someone did that to her.
She has an idea. She tells her daughter to hammer a nail in the fence behind their house every time she says something unkind about the boy. At first, the daughter seems excited at the prospect of hammering nails and gossiping. After a few days, the mother looks out of the window and sees that her daughter has hammered a lot of nails into the fence.
She doesn’t appear to be as excited to be hammering nails as she was on the first day. For the next few days, the mother watches her daughter and sees that she is hammering fewer and fewer nails into the fence. She says nothing.
After a few days, the daughter comes to her mother and says that hammering the nails isn’t as much fun anymore. She says that she had stopped saying unkind things about the boy and being a bully. (Little did she know that the boy is on the other side of the fence. His heart is hurting. He doesn’t understand what he had done to make her want to bully him by saying such unkind things about him.)
Bully: Mother Teaches Empathy
The mother waits a while and then asks her daughter how she would feel if someone had said the same things about her that she had said about the boy. Her daughter answers, “I guess I would feel bad.” The mother then asks her to write down the things she had said about the boy. Unhappily, the daughter begins her task by trying to remember all the things she had said. When she writes them down on paper, they seem far worse than when she had said them. They seemed mean.
The mother says, “The problem with unkind words is that they can never be taken back. Even if the person forgives you, the pain of what you said remains in the person’s heart.” Her daughter understands but the mother isn’t finished. “Now, you need to go out to the fence and remove all of the nails you hammered into it. Remember that each nail represents an unkind word that you said about the boy. The daughter goes out and begins to remove the nails.
As she removes each nail and looks at the holes in the fence, she begins to understand. When she had removed all the nails and sees all the holes, she feels sad. The fence looks terrible and she thinks about how terrible the boy must feel since she had said so many unkind things about him.
She walks closer to the fence and then she sees something through the holes. She sees the boy she had been spreading rumors about. She sees how sad he looks and she feels terrible. She realizes that she had destroyed the fence and broke his heart. She thinks about her mom’s words, “The problem with unkind words is that they can never be taken back. Even if the person forgives you, the pain of what you said remains in the person’s heart.” She knows she can’t fix the holes in the fence but she has another idea.
She walks over to the other side of the fence where the boy is standing. She sees him looking at the holes. She wonders how she could have been so unkind. Really, what had he done to her? She calls to him. I am so sorry. I was mean and I feel terrible. It was then that she sees the tears in his eyes. “That’s okay,” he says. “I forgive you but I don’t understand what I did to make you want to hurt me so much.” She answers, “You were just being you and I couldn’t accept anyone who acted different from me. I was wrong to hurt you and I am sorry. How can I make it up to you?” He looks at her and says, “Maybe you could tell everyone that I’m not so bad after all.”
“I’ll do better than that. I am going to have a party just for you and invite my friends and your friends too. That way everyone will know that I was wrong and you forgive me. Maybe that way, we can put all of this behind us. What do you think? The boy answers, “I’m not sure. Maybe after a while, I would like that but not right now. Thanks anyway.”
With tears in her eyes, the daughter goes home to tell her mother what happened. “I tried to make it up to him but it didn’t work,” she says.
Her mother looks at her with great pride and understanding. “You made a mistake. You hurt someone when you talked behind his back in an unkind way. You apologized and admitted you were wrong. That took strength. You learned so many lessons this week. You learned that your actions do affect other people and that you must be careful of what you say and do. You learned that everything isn’t just about you.
You learned about compassion and empathy. Now you will be compassionate and empathize with others because you have learned how to walk in the other person’s shoes. You learned that you won’t build yourself up by tearing someone else down. And you learned that what you say about others doesn’t define them, it defines you. That’s a lot to learn in a few days. I am so very proud of you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the boy again. Maybe the next time, he will want to be your friend.”
School starting makes kids worry. I mean school starting really makes kids worry! Whether kids are popular, not so popular, attractive, not so attractive, smart, not so smart, abled, not so abled, tall, short, lean, wide, boys, girls, new to a school or have gone to the same school in the past… they are all worried! As parents, there is a lot that you can do to help them worry less.
School Starting: Things to remember
- Try to be positive about making new friends and try to go at the idea from different angles, e.g. When you go to lunch, maybe someone will have the same lunch bag or be eating the same things as you like. That might be someone you would like to eat with.
- You can often obtain class lists and set up play dates prior to the start of school.
- Remind your child about his or her interests and the possibility of meeting new friends with the same interests.
- Kids worry about certain teachers. The reputation of the teacher can be a cause of concern. Remind kids that some kids don’t like certain teachers while others love them.
- Kids must be reminded of the value of being respectful and starting off on the right foot.
- Make sure your child knows that you will be on hand for parent teacher night.
- Your child’s level of self-esteem will make or break how he or she adapts to the new school year. Help them with their self-esteem. That won’t happen by telling them that they are wonderful. You are the parent, they know you think they are wonderful.
- If your child’s behavior is out of the ordinary because of school starting, you may need to think about getting outside help. This could mean talking to a teacher or school psychologist.
- Sometimes talking about the things you remember about what they are going through helps and sometimes it doesn’t. Take care in going this route. Your child is not you!
- Make sure that you have all of the necessary school supplies for your child to begin the school year.
- Take your child to the school to walk around and help them get a feel for the school’s layout. Some schools will provide maps to students.
- Make sure your child has their schedule with teacher’s names and room numbers.
- Children with social or behavioral issues are especially at risk because of school starting. Even though it may be difficult, it is better to discuss the potential issues instead of avoiding potential conflict by avoiding the issues. Pick your timing and then pleasantly mention school starting and ask questions about how they feel. Don’t ever negate or minimize their feelings.
- School is about academic success but it is also about fun. When kids experience behavior issues during a school year, it is often easy to make those the focus because of school starting. Remember the times that your child had success and remind them of those times.
- As you prepare for back-to-school time, use strategies to remind kids of the fun parts about school to help activate pleasant memories and reduce anxiety. There are a lot of funny school movies and everyone has a funny story to tell.
- It is very important to get your child acclimated to a new schedule because of school starting. Change bed times and meal times to match the times that are required because of school starting.
School starting can be exciting and rewarding in addition to triggering anxiety. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE WITH YOUR CHILD!
Bullied? Confidence discourages bullies. Stand Tall. (Continued from Bullied Kids = Depressed Kids.) You change the way you present yourself and the bullies’ attitude toward you will change too. Change your attitude and approach. Above all, remember that if you are bullied, your confidence will discourage the bullies.
Since bullies tend to pick on the kids that they think are different or weak, the way you present yourself is important.
These are the suggestions I made:
- Approach the kids who are bullying you and look them in the eyes.
- Don’t look down and keep your arms at your sides and your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Stay calm and don’t show any emotion.
- Keep your eyes open and maintain eye contact with the bullies as you do this.
- Tell them to stop the bullying. Say something like, “I know you think you’re funny but you’re not.”
Because I know Eric so well and because he told me a lot about the bullies, I suggested a few more things for him to say. I suggested that he talk with them in the lunchroom where there were adults around.
Confidence Discourages Bullies
Eric did a great job. When he got home, he told me some of the things he said to the bullies.
“What I eat doesn’t make me cool or not cool. I want you to stop making fun of my food. We could have a great time being friends since we like to do a lot of the same things. That won’t happen if you keep up with the jokes about my food. I know you like to skateboard, so do I. In fact, I have a quarter pipe ramp at my house and I can do kick turns, ollies, manuals, kickflips and a lot more. I can do the black diamonds on my snowboard and by the way, I play soccer and kicked 4 goals in our last game. Because I can’t eat the same kinds of foods that you can eat shouldn’t make any difference to you or anyone else. See ya around!”
Then, how cool is this? Eric saw that confidence discourages bullies as he started to leave. He turned and walked away with good posture and his head held high. As he headed for the door of the lunchroom, he heard Jack call. “Hey Eric, wait up. What you eat isn’t a reason for us not to be friends. Did you really kick four goals at your last game?”
Eric followed the suggestions and proudly and respectfully stood up for himself and it worked.
Think about how you can show your confidence to others.
Bullied kids are depressed kids and I know that too well. Do you want to know why? Well, I’ll tell you. I have been bullied a lot and I know how it feels. It’s all about being different in some way. Kids who are like all the other kids usually are not bullied. You would be surprised at how even a little difference can cause unkind kids to bully. Parents may not have any idea that there is something about their child that can make him or her a target of bullying.
Here is an example of what I am saying. Oh! Before I forget! If you are new here, you might not know that I am a dog. In fact, I am a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. That makes me very different because I don’t have a tail like other dogs. Pembroke Welsh Corgis don’t have tails! I bet you didn’t know that!
There is another reason that I understand bullying. I use a wheelchair because I had a bad accident. If you are interested in finding out more about me, you can look here.
Now that you know a little about me, I will go on with what I started to say.
The other day, my mom and I were visiting some friends that were having a pool party. My friend was very sad and at first, he didn’t tell me why. Then he “spilled” everything to me when the adults went into the house. Because we were alone, he told me that he was being bullied at school. It was hard to believe because he is one very cool kid. He is smart, handsome, athletic and very kind.
Bullied Kids = Depressed Kids – I Can Help Build Self-Esteem
He told me that he was being bullied at lunchtime because of what he ate. He has a sensitivity to some foods that have wheat, sugar, and dyes. That means he can’t have sandwiches or sweet or colored foods. His mom packs his lunch with nuts, meats, vegetables, fruits and stuff like that. He was very depressed and down in the dumps about it.
We talked for a long time and I listened to the things he had to say. Because I understand bullying, there were some ideas I shared with him to help his situation. I could see that he was not as sad after we talked. And I was sure he would feel better after he saw the bullying kids the next time.
Please come back to find out what I said and how the kids at school reacted.