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Bullying is often a way for individuals to hide insecurities and fears and project them onto someone else. It takes courage to stand up to bullies, to face the fire, and not let the smoke cloud your vision. Behind the smoke and mirrors of bullying, there is often a lack of confidence and self-esteem.
By addressing the root cause of bullying and promoting empathy and understanding, we can work towards a world where courage triumphs over fear, and smoke is replaced by the warmth of acceptance and kindness.
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I have worked with children since my first job at a daycare. Later I tutored middle school students going into high school, then went to college to become a teacher. Now, I’m currently a middle school counselor.
In my many years of surrounding myself with young people, I have seen how unkind children and adolescents can be. Bullying, as defined my Merriam-Webster, is “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc.”
Bullying isn’t a one-time situation. It takes place over a period of time. Usually the victim is in a defenseless situation.
Many times when parents or students report acts of bullying, it’s not really bullying. Most times it is merely a peer conflict — students simply being mean and rude to one another and are unable to rectify it on their own. Peer mediations are usually held to help both students hear each other’s perspective on the situation and find a respectable way to move forward.
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In those few situations when it is actually bullying, we find it starts with the aggressor having a change of heart and empathizing with the victim.
Teaching kindness is how we put a stop to bullying. This is the most preventative way we can help our children learn how important it is to treat each person they encounter with care and compassion. Here are a few ways to instill this practice in our children at home:
- For our littles, we can read children’s books about kindness and empathizing with one another. My favorite children’s book on kindness is Keisha the Kind in My Little Sister Situation.
- Building confidence in your own child with morning or night time affirmations. We find bullies often do not love themselves and are full of insecurities. I especially like these affirmations cards that can even be placed in your child’s lunchbox.
- Teach your child to speak up when there are opportunities to stand up for those who are being treated unkind. Your child can tell a trusted adult for help, or — if he or she feels comfortable — confront the aggressor. Bystanders are one of the biggest reasons bullies thrive, so it is very important for our children to not just stand by and watch while others are being abused.
- Finally, if your child must have a phone, one that only calls in and out should suffice. Cyberbullying is the worst we’ve ever seen. Hiding behind screens are young people who use social media and other platforms to degrade their peers. Because adolescents are unable to use the platforms appropriately, it’s best that they not have access.
Bullying is a serious issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether it happens in schools or online, it can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health and well-being.
It is important to speak up and take action when we see bullying happening, and to create a culture of kindness and respect in our communities. By working together, we can make a positive difference and create a world where everyone feels safe, valued, and respected.