In the last few posts of the bullying series, I started introducing 50 personal development techniques for parents to help stop the cycle of bullying. A bully is a person who feels weak and powerless, who is bullied himself by another person, who feels weak and powerless, who bullies others gain power, who bully others to gain power… and this cycle will never end, unless we stop it somewhere.
Families are the best candidates to focus on, because parents, although some are bullied themselves and bully their kids, still have an interest in raising wonderful, successful, happy kids. If we give parents strength and empower them to be aware and develop themselves, they will raise happy and confident kids, who will raise happy and confident kids, that will raise more happy and confident kids and slowly, we will reverse the bullying trend.
In this post, you will find 5 more techniques to stop parental bullying using personal development techniques. Each tip is very powerful. Parents can learn to develop it and become roles models for their kids to develop it too. Your kids are mirrors – they will copy your behavior. When you change, so will they.
Take a deep breath
Many of the bullying acts are an immediate reaction to a threat, a feeling of insecurity or a sense of powerlessness. Bullies are not in their normal mind when they bully others. Yes, some bullying acts are planned, but only because the people planning them were not in their normal minds for a long period of time (at least during the planning period).
Bullying is like doing something stupid when you are drunk.
Any drunk person will tell you, “I didn’t mean it”, when they are sober
– Ronit Baras
Bullying is based on instinct and changing your automatic response can work miracles. When you are upset or angry and you want to say or do something about it, take a deep breath. It may be enough to change your immediate response. It will stop you for a second and that second can be enough for your brain to think again. Taking a deep breath, except bringing more oxygen to your brain, will function as your trigger for noticing you are going to say or do something you may regret. Gradually, you will notice it earlier.
To get the most out of this method, start by letting all the air out of your lungs first, pushing your stomach all the way in. Then, take in as much air as you can hold and repeat. The effect is amazing.
If taking a deep breath is not good enough, count to 10. A 10-second break between what happens and an immediate (inappropriate) response is much better than nothing.
Smile! It projects confidence
Smiling is a great way to raise a happier family. Smiling people seem more confident and confidence is a bully repellent.
Bullies live in a world where their dissatisfaction from the world around them and their sense of powerlessness. Often, when bullies complain, they tell others they need to fulfill their expectations, criticize and gossip to gain power. It is very easy to be drawn into this mode of behavior and adopt their complaining and negative outlook on life, but it is important to resist. Smiling is a good way to resist, because it is a gentle way to send a message to the bully that you are happy and satisfied in your life and that you are confident. Bullies will never approach confident people and if they do it at first, to check, they will quickly learn they are not good victims.
Smiling is also a physical way to reject the messages the bully is trying to give you, which highlight your weaknesses. When we smile, our brain floods our body with “feel good” chemicals that support our system. Some therapies even include smiling and laughter as a way to boost the immune system (see Laughter therapy).
Appreciate your kids
If you are experiencing bullying, your kids are at risk. Usually, kids are the first victims when someone in their family is bullied somehow. Kids are very weak and vulnerable and you may use them to get your anger and frustration and gain power without bad intention.
If you focus on the good things relating to your kids – their talents, skills, wonderful behavior and attitudes – it will shift your focus from their weaknesses and minimize the bullying. A bully only bullies people (big or small) who are weak somehow, so if you see your kids as strong and confident because you do a lot to give them that strength and confidence, you are less likely to bully them.
Some parents bully their kids with name-calling and insults (they do not want to bully their kids, they just want to gain power). Make sure you always have positive things to say about your kids, compliment them a lot and give them encouragement.
Remember, learning and change only happens when kids are motivated to learn and change positively. If you think that insults and bad labels will motivate them, you have probably experienced insults and name-calling yourself and you do not know there are much better, faster and more effective ways to motivate kids. Tell your kids you admire them, appreciate them, love them, will be there for them and you think they are good, smart and beautiful. Always be honest in what you say and they will fulfill your prophecy (see Wonderful things to say to my daughters).
Use the “I need to check with my wife/husband” technique
If you have a problem saying “No”, there is a good chance your bully knows that and will use it to their advantage (to gain power). If you do things you are uncomfortable to do, it means you are under pressure and making decisions under pressure is not a good idea.
When someone you consider a bully comes to you and asks you to do something or participate in something, you can always buy some time by saying, “I need to check with my wife/husband”. It still means you need to find a way to say “No”, but you are not letting the bully control your decision.
I have taught my kids this trick and I think they use it very well. Eden is 22 and she has been using it brilliantly for years. Sometimes, she does not feel comfortable saying “No” on the spot. Sometimes, she is just not sure what she wants to do, so she says, “I need to check with my family about our plans for the weekend”, which gives her time to think about it without the pressure.
Worst case, leave your job!
If you have a bully at work who makes life hell for you and makes you frustrated, unhappy and tense and you let your anger out on your kids, try to find ways to handle the bullying at work (see How to stop workplace bullying), but remember that if you cannot do that, you need to leave your job.
One of my clients told me that when she was young, she went to work for her brother-in-law’s office. She was a great worker and her brother-in-law started harassing her sexually. Much like every bully, he threatened that if she said anything to her sister, he would tell everyone she initiated it and she would lose her job. She was scared to tell her sister and she needed the job very much, because she lived in her sister’s house and could not support herself any other way.
When I asked her about it, she said, “I could not imagine myself finding another job. He kept telling me he only kept me there because of my sister and I was not good and no one else would hire me and if they called him, he would tell them I was the worst worker and he was keeping me because of my sister”.
When the harassment had reached a bad point, she told her sister, who did not believe her. She lost her sister, her job and any chance of finding another job.
But you know what? She did find another job! It is never the end of the world. Yes, you start over, but it is better than being abused and definitely better than abusing your kids. Make sure you have a line that, when it is crossed, you leave!
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