Personal development is a good way to eliminate many problems in our society, because it goes through all the levels of change – developing awareness, making a decision to change, creating new habits and living the change. Changing a whole society of bullying is no different. We can move from a bullying society toward a caring, sharing and respectful society using the same personal development techniques.
In the last chapters of the bullying series, I gave tips for parents to stop the bullying in their life, whether to help themselves out of feeling like victims, to stop them bullying their families or to help them help their children. Since bullying is a never-ending cycle, any break in the cycle makes a huge difference to many people you are in contact with. Much like in the movie “Crash”, everything that happens to us touches the lives of the people around us directly or indirectly and we have the power to make a difference in the world by giving strength to our families, partners and children.
Good luck! Well, you do not really need luck. You need a conscious decision to work on yourself and be strong so you will never be picked on by a bully and never feel like a victim and try to gain that power back through your children.
Here are the next 5 tips for parents to work on their personal development and stop the bullying cycle.
Give up perfectionism
Perfectionism is a form of bullying. Perfectionist parents bully those around them into fitting their own unrealistically high standards. Because in the past, it was considered a status symbol when the leader of the household (usually the father) dictated everything to everyone else in the family, some people still do not consider it a form of bullying today, but a parenting style or a method of education.
The problem with perfectionism is that you are never satisfied that your kids and partners (or your employees or colleagues) are a match to your standards, so you are in fact delivering a constant message of inadequacy to them. You risk making them feel weak and becoming easy targets for bullies or starting to bully others to regain their lost power.
If you think you are a perfectionist, read The Art of Misery and learn how to get over this dysfunctional behavior that is the source of many problems.
Find something good to say
Some parents grew up in homes where the way to discipline kids was to say something bad to them in hope they would try to prove they are not “lazy”, “stupid” or “disrespectful”. I even know some teachers who think they should give lower grades to boost their students’ motivation.
Well, it does not work! It kills the motivation. If you do not find yourself saying good things to your family members, your partner and children, do not be surprised if they are not confident enough and are part of the bullying “game” – bullies, victims or silent bystanders. It usually means they do not have the right self-talk in their mind that keeps them away from bullies, gives them inner strength (instead of trying to get it by bullying someone weaker) or moves them to stand up for justice.
The movers and shakers of our society are confident people that have positive self-talk, pumped into them by someone else who was meaningful for them. They are the people no one will ever bully, because their confidence is a bully repellent. They are strong and do not bully others, because they gain their strength from helping the weak rather than abusing them.
You want to raise kids like that. You want to be that person yourself, but if you do not have someone to tell you that you are great, wonderful, caring, understating, talented, smart and all the good things you want your kids to think about themselves, you can still make a conscious decision to tell them these things every chance you get. After all, you are the most important person in their life and it is your job to plant confidence in their mind!
There is always, always something good to say about your kids. If you do not have anything nice to say, it only means you have not found it yet!
Count your complaints and criticism
Many parents are complainers and critics. Some of it is because they lived in a home with a complaining and criticizing parent (or two) and do not know any better.
Complaining is the result of not being able to see the full half of the glass in every situation and criticizing is a result of thinking your way is the only right way. Complaining and criticizing people are not easy to be around, because you are always at risk of getting (verbally) hit for something you did or did not do. A complaining parent, much like the criticizing parent, raises kids who are in constant fear. They keep problems and do not share them with the parent fearing they will be blamed for wrong things that have been done to them.
If your kids do not share their problems with you because they are afraid you might complain or criticize them for it, you are not helping them at all and in fact risking they will be abused and bullied without your knowledge.
Breaking the silence is one of the best ways to stop the bullying cycle and if your kids cannot come and ask you for help, then you are helping to ensure the bullying cycle will continue in your family and your complaining and criticizing is what will guarantee that it will not stop.
Count how many times a day you complain or criticize. If you pass 21 days without complaining or criticizing at all (out loud – you can do it as much as you like in your head), you are cured! Kids who grow up around you will be confident for sure.
Use the “I need to think about it” technique
Again, many parents feel pressured by a bully to do things they do not really want to do. Notice the feeling you have when doing it. It is usually resentment and a feeling you were forced to do it and it is not a nice feeling at all. People can make you do things you do not want to do only when you give them permission to push and usually, you give them that permission when you are weak and vulnerable.
Sometimes, all you need is a bit of time to think and come up with an answer that you cannot think of on the spot, because you feel weak in front of that person. This is very natural. We all have some people that we feel a bit uncomfortable to turn down.
This is a “buying time” technique. Just stand in front of the mirror and practice saying, “I need to think about it”. Take the information, think about it away from the stressor and come up with a planned answer. Do not be tempted to ask, “Can I think about it?” You do not need permission to think about it. It is your right and it is up to you!
Have family dinners
Family dinners are a wonderful way to give kids confidence and a sense of belonging, build relationships, pass on your values and build the trust and courage to ask for help. Families in which everyone eats alone (in their room, in front of the TV, at the computer or anywhere else) at missing a bond that is necessary for building relationships and confidence. Research had found that families that have dinners together are happier and their kids are more successful and more confident. Remember, confidence is a bully repellent and you can build it by just eating together. It is simple, cheap and very effective.
Family dinners can work magic for you too if you are not feeling at your best and you can get lots of support from your family members by sharing with them during dinnertime what happens to you at work and in your personal life. If you do it, your kids will be open and do it too. This can help you notice when something wrong happens to them.
If your lifestyle does not allow you to have dinner together every day of the week, have special dinner times with your family. If one of the parents is not around, have dinner with everybody else.
Remember, you have the power to stop the bullying cycle if you help yourself and your children be strong and safe.
Join me next week for another 5 tips to stop the bullying cycle through personal development.
Together we can make a difference!
This post is part of the series Bullying:
- Bullying Facts and Myth
- Bullying Statistics are Scary
- What is NOT Bullying?
- Types of Bullying
- Why Do People Bully?
- Victims of Bullying
- Bullying Bystanders
- Home of the bully
- Home of the bully (2)
- Workplace Bullying
- Workplace Bullying (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims
- How to Help Bullying Victims (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (3)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (4)
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders (2)
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying (2)
- How Workplace Bullying Bystanders Can Break the Cycle
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying (2)
- Bully Parents
- How to Stop Parental Bullying
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (2)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (3)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (4)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (5)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (6)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (7)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (8)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (9)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (10)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (11)
- How to Stop Bullying with Empathy: The Story of Two Apples