Are you afraid that your child will be the target of bullying in school? I am sure you are. We all are.
There are stories of ragging in colleges that terrify us. There are stories of physical and emotional bullying that happen in schools. And if you hang around on social media for long enough – you will find stories of bullying in preschool.
It is frightening to imagine our children being victimized by bullies. We want to stop that from happening. We want to prevent bullying.
But is it possible to prevent bullying?
The answer to that question fortunately is “Yes – you can prevent bullying.”
The problem is – you cannot prevent bullying by relying on constant monitoring. You cannot prevent bullying by monitoring the places your child goes to. And you cannot prevent bullying by keeping an eye on the people around your child.”
Does my answer surprise you?
Let me explain further.
Why are we afraid of bullying? We are afraid of bullying because we know how terrible it feels to be bullied.
How do we know this? We know this because at some stage or the other of our lives – all of us have been bullied.
Bullying in the childhood years is a much talked about topic. The focus therefore is on bullying in schools and playgrounds. But we all know that bullying does not end with childhood.
Bullying at the workplace is a reality, so is bullying in marriage. You can be bullied within the family, you can be bullied by your friends. The possibility to be bullied in fact is present in every situation in life that involves another person.
How many cameras can you install? Where will you install these cameras? How long will you stand on guard? For how many years? In how many situations?
No. You cannot prevent bullying by monitoring your child’s surroundings.
Bullying – it is important to understand – is a mind game. And if you want to prevent bullying – the only way is – to fortify your child’s mind against bullying.
But shouldn’t children from loving families – who have affectionate and caring parents – become immune to bullying automatically?
The answer is “Yes – they should. Because loving parenting should build self-esteem and strengthen children so that they can stand up for themselves. But several times it doesn’t.”
Many a times – without intending to – because of our unintentional mistakes as parents – we end up rearing children who become easy victims for bullies.
Of course as parents we never plan to build characteristics into our children that bullies are looking for in their victims. But without realizing it – we do
We make our children feel small. Bullies victimize those who feel small (even if they are big physically)
We fill our children with fear.Bullies are always on the lookout for people who are frightened because they can easily scare them further.
We damage our children’s self-esteem. Bullies can only bully those who have low self-esteem. The victims of bullying are those who do not feel that they are good enough.
We teach children that they must constantly strive for our approval and love.The whole premise of bullying is based on terrorizing those who are desperate to please others. Those who are desperate to fit in
We withdraw love when our children fail to meet our expectations. Bullies bully those who feel that they are not worthy of love. They bully those feel compelled to constantly do something to earn love.
We demean children by comparing them to others. Bullies pick on people who are ashamed of themselves because they are different and are anxious to fit in.
Without a doubt – bullying is a mind game. Fortify your child’s mind against bullies.
As parents we have so much power. With our words and actions – we can build or break our children’s personalities.
Never say the following things. They can create cracks in your child’s personality.
“What is wrong with you? Can’t you ever do anything right? You are useless!”
It is easy to demean and criticize children but when we do that – with our power over our children – we ensure that our criticism becomes their inner voice. Our children begin to believe that everything is wrong with them. They begin to believe they are useless. And bullies take advantage of this. They target our children easily because with our unthinkingly uttered words – we have destroyed their self-esteem.
Build your child’s self-esteem by emphasizing that failure is a part of success. We need to walk past failure to succeed. It is part of the journey, not its end.
“Why can’t you do this? Everyone else is able to do it.”
What do we want to do when we compare? We want to motivate our children to do better. Unfortunately however – our comparisons only make them feel inferior. We make them feel ashamed of the fact that they are different – and bullies target those who are ashamed because they are different. A child who believes that he is inferior because he is different is easy prey for any bully.
In every interaction that you have with your child – focus on how unique and special your child is – because he is different from everyone else
“How could you do this – what will other people say” or “How could you do this – what will other people think”
Since bullying is a mental game, one of the paths a bully takes is the path of threats and coercion. In most cases the threats play on the child’s fear of what others will think or what others will say about an incident or a characteristic. Bullies use this fear. But who puts this fear in the mind of the child? Unfortunately – this fear is created and established in the minds of children by their parents.
Nobody can ever read anyone else’s thoughts or mind. Never teach your child to torture himself by imagining what someone else is thinking about him or his behavior or performance. It is impossible to know what someone else is thinking and even more impossible to change that – so why bother.
Ensure that you do your bit to eliminate bullying
Bullies are cowards. They never target the strong or the brave.
Bring your child up to be strong and brave. Tell your child to love himself and take pride in who is and what he has.
Let us teach our children to accept, acknowledge and take pride in their flaws and differences. A bully will never be able to convince them to be ashamed if we succeed in doing that.
We cannot wipe out bullies – they are everywhere. We can only ensure that they have no one to victimize.