Bullying (34): How to stop parent bullying

This is the last post in the bullying series, at least for a while. Bullying is a big problem in our society and many people agree it is a very important one to solve. I believe that every bully is also a victim, that self-confidence is an antidote to becoming a victim of bullying and that parents hold the key to stopping child-related bullying. Parents can learn to treat themselves and their children with respect and become vital contributors to the anti-bullying movement.

Are you with me?

Here are a few more personal development ideas every parent can use to create a bullying-free family and to help build a society without abuse.

Schedule holidays for rejuvenation

Family on holidayBullied people are weak or at least they are perceived as weak by the bully. Many of them are not sure how to handle the situation and express confusion. If the bullying is ongoing, the stress in their life is constant and affects their productivity, effectiveness and performance at work and at home badly. It is no coincidence that there are days off every week and that every person is entitled to a minimum number of holidays every year. It is necessary for us to rejuvenate and “recharge our batteries”.

Holidays are good opportunities to assess what is happening in your life and if you take that holiday with your partner or your family, you can strengthen your bonds, work with your whole family as a team on some project or have a celebration of a family achievement.

Exhaustion can be picked up easily as a weakness by a bully. When you work, work, work, it is usually a sign you are under some threat – you think you might lose something if you stop working. The perceived pain of stopping is stronger than the pain of continuing. A bully boss will spot this immediately and take advantage of it. Bully kids will see this immediately and take advantage of it.

Schedule some time off during every day, schedule some time off during every week, schedule some time off even on the weekend, schedule time off every month, every school term, every six months and every year. It sends a message of confidence, of someone who has the right proportion in life, and that will repel bullies. It will also send your kids the message they need to take care of themselves.

Learn relaxation techniques

Bully parents are very snappy. There is a theory that says that many bullies just do not know any other way of behaving. Having been treated this way themselves, they just do not have the skills to calm down and respond to something in a reasonable fashion. Being relaxed and calm is a good way to handle things better. If someone is bullying you and you snap, they know you are not in full control, but if you are relaxed and have the peace of mind to calculate your response, it will make it harder for any bully to pick on you.

It is the same at home. Someone who is quick to snap is an easy target even for the kids. Relaxing helps you think reasonably when something challenging happens. Instead of reacting and then trying to fix what you have done with another snappy reaction, you think before you act.

I recently went to a school in North QLD and met a young woman in her mid 20s who was in charge of running the project I brought to the school. We were at her school for 3 days and saw over 1,000 students and 100 teachers in about 7 different sessions. There were different students or different ages getting different programs with different teachers and it was amazing that, no matter how many problems she needed to sort out, she was amazingly calm.

Even when things went wrong (no one’s fault), she calmly re-arranged and improvised a solution. I admired her calmness and could tell that she reached a high level of management at school thanks to her ability to stay calm. This woman could not be bullied by anyone and would never bully anyone else.

Bullies may only think about their actions after they have hurt someone, because they were overwhelmed by stress.

There are endless relaxation techniques. Not all of them are suitable for everyone and not all of them are 100% practical, but we can all find something that works for us and we must all have more than one. Even the calmest person in the world is sometimes snappy and angry, but everyone must find their own “relaxation switch”.

I can tell I am not relaxed when I do Sudoku. Having a pre-occupied mind blocks me from seeing a way out and I get stuck. In life, it is the same. If our mind is pre-occupied, we cannot see a way out and we will be snappy and even bully others without noticing.

Count good memories

Times of trouble tend to clutter our vision and our perception on life. If you experience bullying or if you bully others, you usually tend to justify the situation to yourself (“He’s nasty to me because…”, “I’m only reacting like this because…”). The problem with this survival strategy is that it is all in the dark and does not offer any way out of this situation.

Usually, hope is the cure. Seeing good in the future is an art and for people who experience bullying, it is a bit hard to do. The harder things are for them, the harder it is to keep their hopes up.

Good memories are a good way to shift your attention from a depressed, hopeless state to optimism. Collecting good memories in case you need them some day is generally a good strategy for overcoming bad feelings when they happen. Our brain has a tendency to sink into a state. Like a magnet. If you feel good, the brain will try to stay there longer. If you feel sad and helpless, the brain will try to stay there longer.

Whenever you have doubts, like when someone bullies you and tells you “You’re lazy”, bring up a memory that proves it is not true. One example that you are not lazy will change your mood immediately. You do not have to say it out loud to the bully, but you need to recall this memory and smile to yourself.

I tell my students, “If someone comes to you now and tells you that you are a frog, does it make you a frog? Does it matter why he thinks you are a frog?”

When people bully you, use tough words and call you unpleasant names, remember they are talking to a mirror. They are talking about their own fears and insecurities. Feel sorry for them and build your own self-esteem up by remembering something that shows you are smart, capable, strong and happy.

Shifting the focus is a good way, but you have to have a pool of memories you can use in time of need. Make a list of the good times in your life. Write memories that prove you are wonderful, sensitive, friendly, clever, successful, competent and talented. Add pictures, if you can. And when you are a bit down, look at your list.

Love yourself!

SunSelf-love is very important. Often, when I talk to people about self-love, they have an uneasy feeling. I think it is because many confuse self-love with selfishness.

We are all born selfish (self-centered) and gradually, through socializing, we shift from seeing ourselves as the center of the universe to seeing ourselves are part of the universe. Loving ourselves does not mean we fail to see ourselves as members of society, it only means we accept ourselves and appreciate the role we play in it.

If all the people loved and appreciated who they were, their abilities and their appearance, it would be easy for them to respect, love and appreciate others. Every conflict can be solved with self-love. It can easily scare the fear away and make room for some love, caring and sharing, creating a place where bullying cannot exist.

Be happy!

Obviously, I can write lots about how to be happy in life, because I personally believe that happiness is our ultimate destination and goal. When people are happy, they are kind and loving and kindness is best way to connect and love is the cure for everything.

Happy parents raise happy kids and in happiness, you can find all the good things in life. There is some connection between happiness and confidence, because happy people are pleased with their life and have the ability to find light even in the darkest moments in life, so they never bully others and they have the strength to defend victims.

When I meet bullies (kids or adults), I can always see they are not happy people.

I am not saying, “Look for happiness”, “Find happiness” or “Search for happiness”. I am saying “Be happy”, because the state of happiness brings amazing bliss. Being happy is the best weapon against bullying.

Be happy,