Today is Spirit Day. It is a day when people across the country will show their support against bullying those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender community. You may notice lots of purple being worn today in support of spirit day by news anchors, celebrities and professional athletes.
Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year. Bullying is a crisis that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. We need to understand it so we can change it. Not only do we need to give our kids confidence and teach them what to do if they are being bullied, we also need to know how to make sure our children are not the bullies. We all worry that our children will be the victims of a bully.
However, none of us want to believe that we could possibly be raising a bully. We want our kids to be kind to others. Yet with more than 13 million kids in this country getting bullied this year, there have to be an ample number of bullies as well. Those bullies have to be coming from somewhere, right?
Between the blogosphere and the “mommy wars” we see bullying happen all the time in this space. It is no wonder that there is a generation of new bullies being raised as you read this post.
Bullying is a form of deflection, moving the attention from the bully’s own insecurities. They need to fulfill a yearning for control through verbal or physical abuse. We naturally assume that kids who bully are having issues at home, perhaps a sick or nonexistent parent. Maybe they are even suffering from mental or physical abuse themselves. However, there are also many otherwise happy, well-adjusted children who simply believe that being a bully will increase their social status. Experts say that the best way to avoid having our children become bullies is to lead by example. We need to watch what we say about other people in the presence of your child, especially if we think we may be raising a bully. Think about our actions, such as anger, impatience, taunting or even tailgating. If our children see tolerance and empathy from us, they are more likely to act in the same manner towards others.
The experts also suggest that we continue to have an open dialogue with our child, talking to them about bullying and getting to know their child’s friends. Teaching our children empathy is important because they will be less likely to hurt others if they are considering first how the other person might feel as a result of their actions. For children with strong personalities, focusing on positive ways to be a leader may just be the key to having them take action in a helpful rather than hurtful manner.
Parenting is tricky. We want to give our kids freedom but we need to be on top of there whereabouts on and offline. We need to know what they are not telling us. And we need to try to raise kids who believe in inclusion rather than exclusion. Most importantly, we need to try to have open communication and to lead by example.
How do you approach the topic of bullying with your children?