If you’ve been following my series about bullying then I hope, like me, you’ll feel you’ve learned a little about the complex issue of bullying – even if it’s only to attempt to take a step back and view the situation with some objectivity and perspective.
I’ve been a victim of bullying myself in the past; many times in fact. In school, at work, and in my private life – I’ve experienced problems in all of these areas. Without question it’s influenced the person I am today – I like to think it’s made me more empathetic and compassionate. But I’d love to be analysed by a psychiatrist to discover precisely what it is about me that appears to ‘invite’ discord…
At a guess, I’d say on a personal lever that the point Sarah made is relevant: if you hold yourself a certain way people will immediately view you as a soft target. Lacking confidence automatically puts you in this category and if you come up against that ruthless colleague who has their own agenda – bam.
Speaking of which… Something else to consider: it’s well-known that harassment/bullying/persecution is rife in the workplace, and that management is generally pivotal to its perpetuation – and often its root cause. But why? It’s actually very simple: psychopathy is endemic in business – and it allows people to behave in morally reprehensible ways, with little regard for those their behaviour hurts.
And suddenly everything falls into place, right?
But that makes for morose reading, and as the final post in my bullying series, I really want to end on a positive note – about improving things for our children.
With that in mind, I’ve pulled together all the fab advice accumulated over the last few weeks and drawn up a list of practical tips for dealing with bullying:
Prevention is Better Than Cure
This one is all about attitude – your attitude – about yourself and the world around you. The greater your confidence and self-worth, the greater the respect you will command from others.
This is also the greatest gift we can arm our children with; not only in terms of conflict avoidance, but in all walks of life.
Accepting and embracing differences from a young age is key. Learning to respect others and not being suspicious or critical of those who don’t ‘fit in’ is paramount in minimising the incidence of bullying in our children.
In many circumstances where bullying occurs, there’s a lack of empathy for the victim. In educating our little ones about these advanced emotions, we’ll be teaching them to read their peer’s body language and adjust their interactions to treat others with kindness.
Equally, we should be encouraging our children to consider how their actions may be perceived by others. While similar to compassion, self-awareness is almost more important – because it’s an opportunity to censor their behaviour before harm has been caused.
If a problem does arise, we need to allow our youngsters to attempt to resolve the issues for themselves. In so doing, we’re arming them with essential life skills, and – crucially – by showing our belief in them we’re also promoting their self-confidence. (Naturally there does come a point where this is no longer appropriate.)
If a situation does get out of hand, the best thing we can do is take a holistic approach to resolving the problem/s. While it won’t be the case in every situation, often there will be personal issues driving the bullying in our children and they have no concept of the damage they’re doing to the victim. While this is never an excuse, it illustrates that sometimes motivation is irrelevant – if the bully is unaware of the effect of their actions, then there is no motivation.
It’s so important to get to the source of destructive behaviour – just as in other cases it’s necessary to identify when a child is being overly-sensitive and appropriately deal with that issue. After all, if one says they’re being bullied and the accused disagrees, where do we draw the line?
It’s entirely possible that they are both telling the truth.
As for adults, in many ways that’s an even more difficult matter to address. It’s why I’ve let a lot of people go from my life – there’s nothing wrong in accepting you no longer find a particular ‘friendship’ rewarding and walking away. It can be hard to do – but it’s so liberating! And it paves the way to grow your self-worth…
Which is a trait we all wish to model for our children, right? In fact, this is probably the place to start in educating our children about appropriate relationships -they learn from example, after all.
When I started this series, I wasn’t foolish enough to think by the end of it I’d have a magic formula for stamping out what has always been a pervasive issue both in school and adulthood. I simply hoped to gain an insight into what drives spite and cruelty, and draw attention to its prevalence in all institutions.
I don’t think I’ve cracked it, but I have had a lot to reflect on and some very interesting points have been brought up which may make me look at situations differently in the future.
What have you learned from this series?