Bullying can make you feel helpless, humiliated, unhappy, and even suicidal. However, there are ways to protect yourself or your child against bullies at school and elsewhere.
What exactly is bullying?
Bullying is defined as recurrent aggressive behavior, which can be physical, verbal, or relational, and can occur in-person or online, at school, at work, in the neighborhood, or even at home. Bullies are frequently unrelenting, bullying over and over for extended periods of time. You may be constantly concerned about where and when the bully will strike next, what they will do, and how far they will go.
- Unless you’ve been bullied, you may not realize how damaging it can be, especially to a child or teenager.
- Bullying can leave you feeling furious, terrified, helpless, alienated, ashamed, and even guilty that the bullying was somehow your responsibility. You may even consider suicide.
- Your physical health is likely to deteriorate, and you are more prone to acquire mental health issues including sadness, anxiety, low self-esteem, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- To escape being bullied, you are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
Bullying is never acceptable. Whether you are the victim of bullying or a teacher or parent who suspects a child is being bullied or engaging in bullying behavior, there are measures you can take to address the issue and put an end to the harmful effects of bullying.
Physical bullying does not only consist of punching, kicking, or pushing you (or even just threatening to do so). It can also include stealing, hiding, or destroying your belongings, as well as hazing, harassment, humiliation, or forcing you to do something you don’t want to do.
Name-calling, teasing, taunting, insulting, or otherwise verbally abusing you constitutes verbal bullying.
Bullying in relationships involves refusing to speak to you, excluding you from groups or activities, spreading lies or rumors about you, and putting you into uncomfortable or embarrassing circumstances.
Unlike conventional bullying, cyberbullying does not involve face-to-face interaction and is not limited to only a few witnesses at a time. Cyberbullying may happen anywhere, at any time, and the methods used to injure and humiliate you can range from sending threatening or taunting messages via email, text, social media, or instant messaging to sexting, and posting revenge porn, or stealing your online identity.
Bullying at work is significantly more common than you might think. Bullying is not confined to children and teenagers; it can occur in the workplace, whether you work in an office, on a manufacturing floor, or even remotely. Bullying at work can make any job more stressful and leave you feeling furious, embarrassed, and vulnerable.
Bullying Myths and Realities
Myth: Bullying is only considered bullying if someone is physically harmed. Words cannot harm.
Fact: Children and teenagers have killed each other and committed suicide as a result of verbal, relational, or cyberbullying. Words do hurt, and they can have a terrible impact on anyone’s emotional well-being, especially on young people.
Myth: Good kids do not bully.
Fact: All children make mistakes; it’s a natural part of growing up. Parents who deny that their child is capable of being harmful make it more difficult for bullies to seek the care they require.
Myth: Bullies are just nasty people who should be kicked out of school.
Fact: There are numerous reasons why children bully. Some people are bullied at home or elsewhere; others only bully when they are upset or overwhelmed.
Myth: Children can either be bullies or victims, not both.
Fact: Children frequently switch roles, shifting from victim to bully and back again. For example, a fifth-grade bully may become a victim when he transfers to middle school, or a victim on the playground may seek vengeance and become the bully online.
Why Am I Being Harassed?
While bullies may target you for a variety of reasons, they tend to target people who are different or do not fit in with the majority. While your individualism may be celebrated later in life, it may appear to be a disadvantage while you’re young and attempting to fit in. Perhaps you dress or act differently, or perhaps your race, religion, or sexual orientation distinguishes you. It’s possible you’re new to the school or neighborhood and haven’t made any friends yet.
Other Reasons Why Children Bully Includes:
In order to earn popularity or attention.
- Because they are envious of your success.
- To seem rough or feel powerful.
- They are bullied because they are bullied.
- To get away from their own issues.
Whatever the reason for your harassment, keep in mind that you are not alone. We’ve all been bullied at some point in our lives. In fact, over 25% of children are bullied, as many as 59 percent of teenagers are bullied online, and approximately one-third of adults are bullied at work. However, you do not have to put up with it. There are many people who can assist you in overcoming the problem, retaining your dignity, and maintaining your sense of self.
How to Handle a Bully
There is no simple cure to bullying and no reliable method for dealing with a bully. But, because bullying is rarely restricted to one or two incidents—far it’s more likely to be a persistent attack over time—you may have to be relentless in how you react to and report each and every bullying occurrence until it ends, just like the bully. Remember, there is no reason for you to ever tolerate bullying.
- Don’t hold it against yourself. You are not to blame. You should not be ashamed of who you are or what you feel, no matter what a bully says or does. The fault is with the bully, not with you.
- Don’t berate yourself. Do not exacerbate a bullying situation by concentrating on it or rehearsing it in your mind. Instead, concentrate on the good things in your life.
- Be proud of yourself. Despite what a bully says, you have many amazing qualities. Remind yourself of all the special, one-of-a-kind characteristics that make you who you are.
Learn how to deal with stress. Finding healthy strategies to cope with the stress caused by bullying might help you become more resilient so that negative events do not overwhelm you. Exercise, meditation, positive self-talk, muscular relaxation, and breathing techniques are all effective ways to cope with bullying stress.
Spend time doing activities that you enjoy. The more time you spend doing things that make you happy—sports, hobbies, hanging out with friends who don’t bully, for example—the less impact bullying will have on your life.
Tip 1: Determine the best method to respond.
Bullies want to know they can manipulate your emotions, so how you react to their taunts or provocation is crucial. Don’t lash out or use physical force in retaliation. You demonstrate that they don’t have authority over you if you walk away, ignore the bully, or calmly and assertively tell them you’re not interested in what they have to say.
However, if you are unable to move away and are being physically harmed, protect yourself so that you can flee. Your safety is our top priority.
You might perhaps try to laugh it off. Depending on the circumstances of the bullying and your comfort level with cracking jokes, this is an excellent technique to demonstrate to a bully that you will not allow them to control your emotions.
Inform a trusted adult about the bullying. A bully will frequently get more aggressive if you do not disclose threats and assaults. In many circumstances, adults can discover ways to assist with the problem without revealing to the bully that they reported them.
Repeat as needed. You may have to be as persistent as the bully. Report every instance of bullying until it stops. There is no need for you to tolerate bullying.
Tip 2: Reframe the bullying issue.
You can help restore control by adjusting your attitude toward bullying.
Consider bullying from a different angle. The bully is an unhappy, disgruntled individual who wishes to exert control over your emotions in order for you to feel as miserable as they do. Don’t give them what they want.
Consider the big picture. Bullying can be excruciatingly terrible, but consider how significant it will seem to you in the long term. Will it make a difference in a year? Is it really worth getting so worked up about? If the answer is no, redirect your attention and energy elsewhere.
Concentrate on the positive. Consider all of the things in your life that you appreciate and are grateful for, including your own great traits. Finding thankfulness in even the smallest pleasures of life—a lick from your dog, the feel of the sun on your cheek, a kind remark from a friend—can help you break the cycle of negativity and enhance your mood and self-esteem. Try maintaining a thankfulness journal and writing down the things you’re glad for at the end of each day, no matter how tiny.
Look for the irony. As previously stated, comedy has tremendous power. If you’re relaxed enough to realize the silliness of a bullying situation and make a humorous joke about it, you’re unlikely to be an intriguing target for the bully.
Don’t try to control what can’t be controlled. Many things in life are beyond our control, including other people’s behavior. Rather than worrying, concentrate on the things you can control, such as how you react to bullies and how you treat others.
Tip 3: Seek help from those who do not bully.
When you are bullied, having trustworthy people to whom you can turn for encouragement and support will reduce your stress and enhance your self-esteem and resilience. Speak with a parent, teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult—it does not imply that you are weak or that something is wrong with you. Also, seek to make genuine friends (those who do not engage in bullying).
There are many ways to establish new friends if you’re new to a school or community, or if you don’t feel like you have anybody to turn to. Although it may not always appear so, there are many individuals who will love and appreciate you for who you are.
Disconnect from technology. Putting down your smartphone, computer, tablet, and video games can help you meet new people.
Find people who share your values and interests. You might be able to meet new people through a youth group, reading club, or religious organization. Learn a new sport, join a team, or start a new interest like chess, art, or music. Alternatively, volunteering your time might make you feel better about yourself while also expanding your social network.
Share your thoughts about bullying. Speak with a parent, a counselor, a coach, a religious leader, or a trustworthy friend. Even if it doesn’t change the circumstance, expressing your feelings can make a big impact on how you feel.
Boost your self-esteem. Exercise is an excellent approach to increasing self-esteem and relieving stress. To work off your anger in a healthy way, go for a run or enroll in a kickboxing class.
Always be respectful to others. Remember that, while we are all unique, we all deserve to be treated with dignity. Don’t tolerate the bullying of others, and always think twice before saying or doing something that can hurt someone else. Also, if you make a mistake, please apologize. Bullying others is never an excuse, no matter how much you’ve been bullied.
Tips for recognizing and preventing bullying
No matter how much hurt it causes, children are typically hesitant to inform their parents or instructors about bullying because they are ashamed of being attacked. Bullies are extremely skilled at concealing their conduct from adults, so if a youngster is being bullied, it may go unnoticed by a parent or teacher. As a result, it is critical to understand the warning indications of bullying.
Bullying warning signs
If your child exhibits any of the following characteristics, they may be a victim of bullying:
- Withdraw from family, friends, and formerly cherished activities.
- Grades decline for no apparent reason.
- Refuse to attend a school or certain classes, or shun group activities.
- Show indicators of depression or anxiety, as well as changes in mood, behavior, sleep, and food.
- They avoid debates or keep their cell phone or computer activity private.
- Feel depressed, angry, or distressed while or after using the internet.
- When viewing a text, email, or social media post, appear worried.
How to Prevent Bullying
There are methods that parents and teachers may do to try to stop bullying behavior in children and teenagers.
- Discuss bullying with your children. Simply discussing the issue can be a tremendous stress release for someone who is being bullied. Listen to a child’s feelings without passing judgment, condemnation, or blame.
- Take out the bait. If your child is being bullied because of his or her lunch money, phone, or iPod, for example, propose that he or she pack a lunch and leave the devices at home.
- Find assistance for a child who is terrified of a bully. Ascertain that other teachers, coaches, and counselors are aware that the youngster is being bullied. No youngster should have to deal with bullying on their own.
- Assist the bullied child in avoiding solitude. Children who have friends are better equipped to deal with bullying. Find ways to expand their social circles, such as through youth or religious groups or clubs.
If your child is a bully,
It can be tough for any parent to learn that their child is bullying others, but it is critical to take action before the poor conduct has major and long-term effects on your child. Bullying children:
- Have a greater likelihood of misusing alcohol and drugs.
- Are more prone to engage in brawls, vandalize property, and drop out of school.
- Are twice as likely as adults to have a criminal conviction and four times as likely to be repeat offenders.
- As adults, they are more prone to be abusive to their romantic relationships, spouses, or children.
If your child struggles with strong emotions like anger, hurt, or frustration, speak with a therapist about how you can help your child learn to manage these feelings in a healthy way.
Signs that your child is a bully
- Is frequently violent with other children.
- Frequently participates in physical or verbal conflicts with others.
- Spends a lot of time in detention or earning other school sanctions.
- Has extra money, new possessions, or other unaccounted-for items.
- Refuses to take responsibility for their acts, instead blaming others.
- Spends time with friends that bully others. Bullying is frequently a learned behavior.
Some bullies develop aggressive conduct as a result of their upbringing. You may be setting a negative example for your children if you spank or otherwise strike them, verbally or physically abuse your spouse, or engage in bullying conduct such as:
- Abusing your child’s sports coach, umpires and referees, or opposing team members.
- Swearing at other motorists on the road
- Making fun of a waitress, store clerk, or cab driver who makes a mistake.
- Negatively referring to other children, parents, or instructors in such a way that your child believes it is appropriate to use verbal abuse to intimidate others.
- Sending or transmitting threatening online communications to coworkers or acquaintances.
Parenting Tips for Dealing with a Bullying Child
Find out about your child’s life. If your actions at home have no negative impact on your child, it’s conceivable that their peers or friends are supporting the bullying behavior. Your youngster may be having difficulty fitting in or forming relationships with other children. Speak with your youngster. The more you know about their life, the easier it will be to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Inform your child about bullying. Your child may be unaware of how harmful and devastating their actions might be. Encourage your youngster to consider their actions from the victim’s point of view to foster empathy and awareness. Remind your youngster that bullying has major legal ramifications.
Control your tension. Teach your youngster healthy stress management techniques. Bullying by your child could be an attempt to relieve tension. Alternatively, your own tension, anxiety, or worry may be contributing to an unstable home situation. Exercising, spending time in nature, or playing with a pet are all excellent methods for both children and adults to unwind and de-stress.
Keep an eye on your child’s technology use. Inform your youngster that you will be monitoring their phone and web activity. Limit your child’s access to technology if necessary until their conduct improves.
Establish consistent behavioral guidelines. Make certain that your youngster understands your rules and the consequences of breaking them. Children may not believe they require discipline, but a lack of limits communicates to the parents that the child is unworthy of their time, care, and attention.
If you want to learn more about topics like this, here’s an article about dealing with depression during coronavirus.