How to bully-proof your kids for life - Deepstash
How to bully-proof your kids for life

How to bully-proof your kids for life

theguardian.com

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Bullying In Youngsters

Bullying In Youngsters

Bullying is a sustained pattern of aggression by a person with more power, targeting someone with less power. The key  is that it’s repeated behaviour. But beneath this simple definition lies a complex, multilayered situation that can be exceptionally tricky to unpack. What is the power, and where does it come from? With children, it’s often that they have more social status, or have been led to believe they do.

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Bullying Is About More Than Just Two People

Bullying Is About More Than Just Two People

Bullying is always about more than what’s going on with two people: the bully and the target. What about the  “wingmen”, the bully’s supporters, the kids who think the bully is the bee’s knees and want to stay in their favour? What’s happening with the kids watching silently – the bystanders? Who is seeing what’s happening, when it all starts to kick off, and getting out fast? Who’s calling out the injustice?

To understand bullying, you have to see the whole picture.

Bullying is about absolutely everyone; even the bystanders – those who do or say nothing when bullying is taking place.

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DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

Not to speak is to speak; not to act is to act.

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

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What Parents Can Do

What Parents Can Do

Pay attention to your child, so you can work out what their vulnerabilities are. You know your child better than anyone: what are their emotional needs? Do they need love and belonging, or crave power, status and recognition from others?

The first of these could be a passive, gentle child who might be more vulnerable to bullying, or to being recruited by a bully to be one of their supporters.

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What Your Kid Needs

What Your Kid Needs

If your child needs power and recognition – and that’s a great cocktail for success in many sectors – it can easily trigger bullying behaviour, and as a parent, you need to be aware of that, and active in how you manage it.

If you can nurture a sense of kindness in that child, help them understand how others are feeling, you’ll be combatting their bullying tendencies. Every child, every human being, has their flaws.

it’s relatively easy to help a primary-school-age child out of being a bully. They’re primed to be told how to behave, and they can learn to be different.

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A Bully Family

Sometimes you come across a family where everyone is a bully: the parents, the older siblings, who bully the younger kids, and the younger kids, who bully others at school. These families are very difficult to help, but they’re also quite rare. What’s much more common is individualistic behaviour by parents that could set their child up to be a bully.

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The Kind Of Kids That May Become Bullies

The Kind Of Kids That May Become Bullies

Kids with a supercilious presumption that they’re better than others can get into the bullying mindset.

Make sure your child isn’t that child: the idea that your offspring is inherently smarter, better looking and more skilled across the board, is, in fact, a facet of your own dark side – and transmitting it to your child will lead to big problems.

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Tricky People

Tricky People

The truth about tricky people is this: they’re all around, and they’ll continue to be all around, right through your life. One of the biggest gifts a parent can give their child,  is the skills to handle tricky people.

It’s not about being big; it’s about being clever.

It’s about your strategy, it’s about how you deal with these people. If you teach your kid that some people are pure evil, and will beat you, it’s not empowering. But if you teach them to recognise the tricky person, to be wary, to work things out around them: that’s empowering. You’ve taught them something massive.

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The Upstanders

The Upstanders

The upstanders are the ones that weigh in. They’re wired to weigh in – even when it’s nothing to do with them. To some, they can be really annoying people, actually.

But upstanders deflate the bully or bullies and the important thing to realise, and to make sure your child realises, is that it can be a very subtle role. 

It's a good idea to embrace the role of the upstander – in schools in particular, nurturing an upstanding culture would make a huge difference.

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The Digital Age And Bullying

The Digital Age And Bullying

Bullying in the digital age is the same as the old but there are important differences. First, the digital world has created a much quicker path to the dehumanisation of the target – and dehumanisation is the horror we are trying to avoid.

It’s very hard to bring a child back from being dehumanised. If you feel it’s happening to your child in any setting, and if the school or authorities aren’t working with you urgently to tackle it, you need to get the child out quick.

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The Bottom Line

 Bullying is unpleasant, but it happens; and working out what’s going on, and going deeper into our own roles and our children’s roles, is a character-enhancing exercise.

Whether your child is the bully or the target, the bystander or the wingman, they can learn from it, and they can come through. Being on the receiving end of bullying is a traumatic situation, and like all trauma, you can come out of it stronger, especially if you have good support. It can make a bigger person of an individual. It can give them a view of the human condition that they didn’t have.

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