Bullying, Mental Health

This One’s For You, Kids: Bullying Stinks

Hi, Parents. I know that your children do not read articles without a nudge, so I know you will get this first. I’m a bit of a Pollyanna sometimes; therefore, I believe that you will share this with your child and that they will read it. Hope springs eternal! I’m going to touch on a worn-out, but never outdated, subject: bullying. I’m a huge advocate for good mental health, and we all know what being bullied does to a person, so bear with me as I challenge and/or support your child.

Hi, Kids. Oh, I know. You hear about this all the time. It gets so old. But you know what? It can’t get too old. Ever. The dictionary says that when you bully, you “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce” someone who appears to be vulnerable. Victims of bullies may be smaller, shyer, weaker, younger, or different than other people.

You can’t change these traits if you have them. You are who you are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adjust some a little. For instance, if you don’t think too highly of yourself for some reason, either because of constant criticism from people or your own perceptions of yourself, find some ways to get that self-esteem up. We all have at least one talent where we can say: “Hey, I’m pretty good at this!” Find it, or them, and be proud!

Don’t listen to all that stuff about being able to be anything you want to in life if you just try. They’re lies. (Sorry parents. It’s the truth.) You can be anything that you want to be in life within your own capabilities. Everyone has an IQ and genetic traits that make them good at some things and not so good at others.  I guess I’m sort of smart, but I couldn’t be a brain surgeon, even if I wanted to. I couldn’t pass it. We aren’t all the same. By thinking you can be anything you want if you just try hard enough, you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. If you know in your heart that you are doing the very best that you can, then that’s who you are. You don’t have to be the best, just be the best you.

Try to hang around other people when you can. Loners are easy targets. This might require you to go out of your comfort zone if you are feeling a little socially awkward, at least if you happen to be in bully territory at that moment. Welcome to the club. We have all been there. If you can tolerate that without even more anxiety, it might help. If you can’t avoid it, walk away. Take yourself out of the situation as soon as possible.

If you are being bullied, tell someone. Parents, adult relatives, school counselors, spiritual leaders, any trusted adult. There is help. You do not need to, and should not, go this alone.

If you ARE the bully, knock it off. I have the same advice for you as I gave to the victims of bullies. Work on your self-esteem. Why do you bully? Does it make you feel better than everyone? Are you trying to divert attention from your own weaknesses by shining the light on others? Do you even know that what you are doing is being a bully? Are you being bullied, yourself, by someone older or stronger than you, and this is your way of showing your anger because someone is hurting you? Adults aren’t perfect, either. Tell someone.

Bullying is hurtful, damaging, and just plain wrong, at any age. Parents, your kids have homework. Please share this with them.