Bullying (25): How to Stop Parent Bullying

Dad and Mom tatooThe previous post of the bullying series talked about stopping bully parents with awareness, because awareness is the first step towards any change. The following posts will show how we can stop bully parents by introducing personal development. I believe that happy parents raise happy kids and that parents with good emotional skills raise children with good emotional skills, so this will also stop many kids from being bullies and others from being victims.

In the next 10 anti-bullying posts, I will list more than 50 bullying items and expand on some personal development technique to overcome some bullying behavior or help your kids stop being bullies or victims. Consider this your free parent coaching course to recognize, avoid and eliminate bullying from their life.

Parents in Power

Some bullying behaviors are much more severe than others, but this activity is not meant to judge you or any other parent. It is there to give you tools to overcome snappy, fearful, aggressive or manipulative behaviors that arise from feeling powerless. It will help you regain personal power so you do not try to get this power from abusing your kids, your partner or your employees (remember, every bully is also a victim and even if you are feeling like a victim, you may be bullying others).

Your role in the home is very important and as someone in power, you need to make good use of it. Recently, I wrote about what happens when you give people power and they do not know how to use it well (see Kids in Power Prison). This was a true story about the power I gave a group of kids and how they abused it. Grownups are much the same and if you read these posts, you will find that in the original experiment, grownups abused their given power even more. When you give them power and they do not have high emotional intelligence, things will turn sour.

It is hard, sometimes impossible, to be in control all the time and use your power positively. Sometimes, we are in a physical condition that uses up most of our energy, like when we are tired. Sometimes, we are in a stressful situation that takes away our emotional energy. Sometimes, we are confused and indecisive. Sometimes, we are snappy and sometimes we are frightened or aggressive. It is just normal, so we need to keep in mind that if we keep developing ourselves, those “sometimes” will shrink and will no longer interfere with the healthy development of our kids.

When parents bully it is because they are under some pressure. It could be because they use drugs, take medications or drink alcohol, their emotional state is weak, they are not physically healthy, they have a personal history of being abused or they are isolated and bullied themselves. All these things are considered stressors, because they make it hard to think clearly and make decisions. This is why bully parents choose the easy way or hitting, threatening, scaring and manipulating their kids.

A bully parent is a kind of blind person. Their perception of weakness, whether it is real of not, blinds them from seeing other options and sometimes, simple things kids do as part of being normal kids awaken the feeling of powerlessness and triggers aggressive behavior. Personal development is a great solution for this, because it forces a person to do things intentionally, after a thought, after considering the options and what seems a bit of a stretch at first becomes second nature when you have developed it.

Let’s start.

Keep as far away from bullies as you can

Teens laught behind a girl's backIf you are bullied, it is usually a sign that the bully is a weak person and needs help and you are not the one to help them. In fact, they are abusing you with the false hope that it might help them, but it does not.

If you can, stay away from the bully as much as you can. If the bully is your partner, this is not practical, but if the bully is your sibling or parent, you can choose to stay away from them, at least for a while, until you build your confidence. If the bully is someone from within your social group, stay away from them if you can. It is the same with work – if this is a colleague and you do not have to work with them directly, do not hang around them, but if this is your boss, it may be a bit more complicated. Staying as far away from bullies as you can will give you space to build your confidence. Confidence is a bully repellent and the less you are bullied, the less you will bully your kids.

Find the source

Every bullying behavior has a source – someone or something else makes you feel powerless. Find the source is the first step of self-awareness. This is not meant to give you excuses for the way you behave but an understanding of this cycle. It does not always mean you can change it, either. For example: if your parents were bullies when you were in primary school, you cannot go back to that time and change it, but you look at their behavior from an adult perspective, you can forgive them and you can develop yourself in such a way that you will break the cycle of abuse.

Remember, bully parents raise bully kids that grow up to be bully parents who raise bully kids… Stop the cycle at your personal source!

Understand the cycle

When you find the source of the bullying – the person who has bullied you – ask yourself who had bullied them. If you do not know their personal history or the stressors in their life, you may not know who that was, but sometimes, the answer will be clear. If this is your parents, for example, ask yourself if they were bullied by your grandparents. This option is very reasonable and your parents probably were bullied by your grandparents, because bullying was accepted as a common part of daily life in the past. Again, this is not meant to give them excuses. It helps us understand that we were drawn into this cycle without a choice, but we can always gain power by stopping it.

Understanding myself

Girl looking in the mirrorUnderstanding what makes you feel powerless is another key to making a change. When you find the bully in your life, ask yourself “What is that thing he/she does that makes me feel powerless?”

Give a name to the powerless feeling. How do you feel exactly? People often say, “I just feel bad”, but try to dig deeper and find out what kind of a feeling you have. Recognizing the feeling is very important. You may be feeling guilt, shame, humiliation, fear of the future, inability to trust anymore, isolation, rejection or some other related emotion.

Once you identify the feeling, ask yourself, so what happens when I feel this way? How do I act it out? What kind of (inappropriate) behavior does it lead to? This will help you recognize what happens inside you and allow you to stop doing the same to your own children.

Do not give the bully power – nobody can make you feel anything!

Bullies bully for the sake of gaining power, so do not give them power, because obviously, they cannot make good use of it. By saying, “He (or she) makes me feel…”, you give them power they never had. No one can make you feel anything. They do not hold a gun to your head and force you feel anything (most of the time). Your feeling is your choice.

Rather than saying, “He makes me feel humiliated”, choose to say, “I feel humiliated”, because you do not know the bully’s intention and he cannot make you feel humiliated without your help. Your feeling is your choice and interpretation (which leads us to the next technique).

Facts and meaning

Understanding your interpretation is very important. You need to put the facts together and separate them from your perception of them. If my colleague asks me to bring her some coffee on the way back from the post office, I may interpret that as if she thinks I am her servant, but that is just my interpretation. I my son asks me for money and I think it means he does not appreciate how hard I have worked for it, I am reading too much into his request.

When we put incidents into the formula “He/she did … and I interpreted it as …”, we can often find that the connection between the two is only in our mind. When you take what happens to you and use this formula to explain it to yourself, you take responsibly for your own interpretation.

There must be 100 different ways to interpret everything your kids do, but when you are stressed and feeling powerless, you will choose the wrong interpretation 9 times out of 10. Stop yourself, consider the facts, identify your own feelings and thoughts and remember, all kids are good.

Join me next week for the next personal development techniques for parents to stop bullying at home.

Have a peaceful day,