You can’t turn on the TV or check the news anywhere without seeing something about bullying. In addition to all the stories about bullies in schools, the most prominent story is the one involving the Miami Dolphins. In a nutshell one of the rookies left the team because of being bullied. On the surface this seems hard to believe because you have this giant athlete capable of practically picking up a car with one arm who has to leave the team because he is being hurt by a bully.
But it tells us that no matter how powerful a person is he can be bullied. All the talk show guests from the sports arena are saying that “my dad taught me that when somebody bullies you just go after them, hurt them and it will be over.” Sorry, dad but that is not good advice and here is why.
Let’s go back to the old maxim, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Seems childish and naïve and surely—not a guy-thing. But it is good advice.
In earlier posts I mentioned to always keep control of the agenda in any interaction. That rule applies here too. Teach your kids that if a bully taunts you, do not react, keep cool and unflustered.
Explain to your kids that they can set the emotional agenda. Tell your kids that they will be teaching the bully that he can’t get to them. Your kid remains “above” all that. This is about it.
Now it is important not to do anything but ignore the bully. Passive/aggressive behavior won’t work either. Just ignore the bully and move on. The important lesson to teach your child is that they are in control of the situation and not the bully. In other words, your kid can choose whose opinion is important and whose is not, and the bully’s opinion is not important.
The underlying truth is that violence begets violence. Somebody bullies you and you strike back, and then he or she gets friends to back them…well you get the picture.
There is a corollary here too, and that is teach your child never to be a bully. Let them know that you think bullies are weak, insecure people who are not ever likable. Bullies are pitiable. No one is ever proud of a bully.
Remind your child that it takes a real tough kid to ignore a bully, and tell them that you know they have got what it takes.