I suspect many, if not most of us, have experienced some form of bullying in our lives. Some of us have grown up with bullying in the family as being normal, others experience it in school and possibly later in life in the workplace.
What does bullying look like?
It can be very confronting and unpleasant to be on the receiving end of bullying behaviour, which often seeks to ‘overpower’ and control through methods which aim to demean, diminish, humiliate and ridicule. The bully has an assertion of dominance with an expectation the recipient will crumble or comply. Conversely, if we don’t crumble, engage with or ‘feed’ the bully with our reactions, the bullying has no hooks into us, it has nowhere to go.
The real reason people get picked on is actually nothing to do with the excuse that’s the focus of the bullying, which can be absolutely anything; from being quiet, loud, uncoordinated, judged to have strange hair, being tall, short, smart, stupid, overweight, underweight to simply eating different food. There is no ‘reason’ for being bullied that makes sense and no reason is needed for a bully. What feeds the bully?
What feeds the bully is a reaction, this is the hook that snares you and won’t let you go until you’re able to not react. As soon as we react, we stoke the fire and hand ourselves over to the bully, hook, line and sinker. We are owned in that moment by the bully. Whereas, if we simply observe what’s going on, the bully has nothing to grab onto. It is about not reacting on the inside as well as on the outside. It is not about ‘looking’ the part, but knowing the bully is the one with the issue, it actually has nothing to do with you. Nothing at all. You just happen to be the person in front of them they are projecting on to.
Don’t feed the bully
If we feed the bully with our reactions, the bully will grow bigger and feed off us all the time.
So, how can we support our children to deal with bullies?
As parents, we want our children to feel safe and confident in being their amazing selves and to be able to withstand the pressure of school, the playground or in any other setting.
By nurturing and confirming our children, we are empowering them to be themselves and to be able to deal with situations that arise, to not react, whether that is around bullying or any number of things children have to deal with as they grow and develop.
Then, we are supporting young people to feel confident to be who they are in life, to be able to ask themselves why things are happening and therefore to be equipped to handle challenging situations they will inevitably be faced with. Most importantly we are empowering them to be themselves and not react to what is going on around them. That is gold.