"Bullying"...most of us cringe when we hear that word. "Victim" is equally as scary. None of us want our kids to end up in situations where they are acting as either. So what can we do to proactively prepare them for times when they're bullied or have been the bully?
The answer is not a one solution, fits all, magic pill. Situations where bullying exist are often developed over time and it's important to see that both sides have a role in the dynamic. It is very easy to side with the victim and come down on the bully, but having this mentality actually works against empowering children who have fallen into a victim role. When we take on someone else's problem, we weaken that person and overburden ourselves. Of course there are times when we as adults need to step in, however our first solid attempts should be in empowering our kids to take care of themselves and have confidence in their inner strength.
Learning to build up both sides is key. Teaching the bully to see the light in himself and understand that true power comes in ways OTHER than overpowering others is crucial.....while also teaching victims to have empathy for kids "acting out of integrity" while learning to set strong boundaries that often serve as bridges to relationships. Dissolving Bully / Victim situations works best when kids and families come together, which is an incredibly hard task for many who would rather walk the plank on a pirate ship than come face to face with tough conflict resolution. It's important to remember that while definitely challenging, conflict resolution CAN be peaceful and bridge building, if both parties stay open and willing to truly seek the integrity in each other and the situation.
Most families in the span of 18 years of parenting and childhood, will experience a time or two when their kids fall into one (or often both) of the Bully / Victim roles. Whether they've been a little too rough with kids in their class, or downright mean and aggressive towards another child...or perhaps you have a kiddo who always seems to get picked on, has trouble speaking up for herself, or has truly gotten hurt by another child? When you add that many of us have painful childhood memories that get triggered by these events that our kids experience, dealing with Bully or Victim challenges can leave you drained, hopeless and often angry.
The good news is...Positive Parenting and Healthy Life Coaching tools, mindsets, and strategies can help equip your kids with the ability to resolve these types of conflicts with integrity and success. There are so many great organizations who are working hard to educate the world on these types of strategies and one of them is The Peaceful Project, have you heard of them? They are an amazing non-profit, headquartered in Missouri, doing amazing things to educate the youth on how to avoid Bully / Victim paradigms.
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the Executive Director, Maggie Macaulay about what the organization stands for and how it serves the community in the most amazing ways to reduce both Bully and Victim situations, as well as the occurrence of By-Standers (kids who watch, but don't take action or help). She talks a little bit about how they view the Bully / Victim paradigm and also shares an incredibly moving story about the power of the work. Click below to listen.
The Peaceful Project offers a super helpful "tips" printout about how to keep your kids out of the Bully / Victim realm. Click here to download the guide.
If you're a local San Diego family, register for the "Bully Proofing Your Kids" seminar on Thursday night (6/22) - 6pm-8:30pm at my Fresh Start Family Office in Encinitas (111 C. St.). Wine, beer, kombucha, snacks and a solid dose of hope, encouragement and new tools are always served up.
With Joy, Wendy Snyder