Why do the bully? It’s about power.
Our children will be bullied. Yours, mine, all of them will face it. We cannot shield them forever.
So how do we prepare them?
At the heart of the issue bullying is about power over another. There are three breeds of bully.
Types of Bully:
The physical domination where one child beats, hurts or physically compels another.
The harasser. One child identifies and attacks the emotional sensitivities of another.
The manipulator. Uses more subtle emotional/social pressures and fears to exert power over another.
Situations where our children will encounter this bullying are near infinite and usually unexpected. While role-playing scenarios can introduce the issue it does little to prepare our kids for the real challenge.
The solution is teaching our kids to control their reaction and choose powerful responses when under pressure. What makes kids (and adults) ineffective in difficult situations is our reaction to stress. The physical reaction to stress is universal. Physical tension, posture changes, increased heart rate and rapid shallow breathing. We experience it when threatened or under pressure that we are not confident we can handle. What most don’t know is that we can control and diffuse this physical reaction.
The reason it is important to control reaction when threatened is:
If we fight we must beat them so badly they would never try to gain power over us again. If there is even a chance the bully could regain power they will take it. This level of brutality is wrong on many levels to teach kids. Resist the dark side.
If we run or back down then we must always outrun or avoid the threat. In essence we are teaching the kids to indirectly accept the bullying. And if we avoid, what about the next child who can’t get away?
However, if the bully’s actions are responded to as insignificant, it diminishes them. Socially their power shrinks and internally they are not getting the reward for their actions.
We teach our kids to harness their reactions to stress with deep, controlled abdominal breaths & physical relaxation. Make a game of it. Run sprints to simulate the stress response. Then see how quickly they can calm their bodies and regain control. Once in control teach them to intentionally close the best concrete action they can see to improve their situation.
This must be practiced until it is innate if we want our kids to have this ability. It doesn’t matter what we know, it matters what we practice.
Do this consistently with your kids; daily if possible. At minimum do the sprint game 2x a week with clockwork consistency.
After your kids know the skill remind them to use it every time you see them exhibiting a stress response (fear/anger)