When the environment we are in doesn’t encourage us to blossom

We are a bit like plants, and our children are too.  Some environments help us to blossom, and some are more of a struggle.

Put us in the right soil, with exactly the right amount of cold, heat, and water, and we’ll take off like a tree and blossom amazingly.

Put us in a place that feels too cold for us, and we’ll shrivel up (become introverted and insecure).  Put us in a place that over stimulates us and we’ll become a man-eating triffid (become precocious and over confident).

Sometimes there is something that needs changing in order to improve our surroundings and help us to feel that perfect balance.  But sometimes it is just to do with changing our view of the world that we are in.  More often than not it’s a bit of both.

Curly Headed Boy is struggling at the moment and his environment isn’t quite right, there is just a little too much stress involved.  It’s not a major deal as it’s at the early stages, but adjustments are definitely needed before bigger changes are required.  I’m hoping that a few adjustments in several places will do the trick, but we’ll see over the coming months and I’ll let you know.

How do I know?  Well, he’s been having nightmares for several months (probably since half way through his first term in reception).  He is one for nightmares, but not so regularly.  He’s often worried and asks repeated questions that show it, mainly about whether he is good enough.  He was worried about Little Dimples arrival, and that sometimes resurfaces, but in the main that seems OK as long as we remember to praise both at the same time.  He is also pretty vocal about not liking school and why.  Plus we have had some MEGA tantrums over the last few months, which other Mums have also noticed since their kids started reception.

The long christmas holidays have been great.  They given time for him to tell me lots more about school, and I’ve had a chance to chat to other Mums and get a bit more information about the daily structure etc.  The perspective meant that I was very clear on the ‘problem’, and could go and have a little 10min chat with his teacher.  We are very lucky because his teacher is lovely, and he adores her.  She agrees with me, that he’s bright enough for the school, in fact he is apparently very bright (I’m a bad Mummy, I hadn’t really realised that!), but if we don’t get this sorted out, then it’s not the right environment for him to blossom and grow in.  His brightness is more in emotional understanding, so things that other 5yr olds would ignore bother him, and he is bothered by the degree of competitiveness in his class.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the kids, and it isn’t all of them (he just sees the ones that are, not the ones that aren’t).  It’s just that they have a VERY high value on academic learning, and he appears to have followed me in having a higher value on life experience and creative things.

There is also a touch of what could be called bullying.  It’s not major and no more than we’ve dealt with elsewhere.  It’s more of a general ‘throwing their weight around’ kind of thing, as the kids sort out their social hierarchy and a few lay claim to the top spots.  Now if you’ve read all my stuff about ‘bullying‘, you’ll know that I have a very different view of it from the mainstream, so I’m not upset with the kids involved, and I’m very aware that we have all bullied somewhere, sometime.  But I do need to teach him to sort it out and I know that the school is watching the situation.

So the plan …

  1. I’ve created a facebook group for the year, so that we can have more impromptu play dates: that should set him up to be socially stronger.  Luckily lots of the Mums are up for this.
  2. We started swimming lessons so he can meet more kids and gain confidence in something else
  3. I’m chatting to him and pointing out that not all the children have the same focus on their school work
  4. Some role playing to teach him how to deal with the slightly intimidating behaviour of a few of the kids, so he learns strategies to deal with it (he’s good at this).
  5. I’ve had a chat with him about being naughty to get attention at home, and we’ve come up with a plan that works out better for him, rather than the current one (mummy shouting), so the home environment will also be a little more relaxed for him.

This wouldn’t necessarily be the right plan for all kids, but Curly Headed Boy is a little like me.  We like a pat on the back, and wag our tails when we get them.  We are a little sensitive to a grumpy look, or angry voice and can recede easily.  I have the feisty Leo spirit in me to kick back in those cases, and I understand lots more about relationships and seeing both sides of a picture.  He’s too young for me to explain everything at the moment, so for a little while his environment needs a pick me up, and when he is older I can teach him more about looking for the stuff that helps us to blossom, even if it isn’t obvious.

Ironically, Little Dimples is totally the opposite.  I don’t have to worry about her at all, as she can hold her own with a scary look with babies twice her age.  This is great news, because wherever Curly Headed Boy goes to school, Little Dimples will follow with no trouble and she’ll make sure that she blossoms!

It’s also been a good reminder to me that we all need an environment within which we can blossom, and it can be subtly stressful when it isn’t available.  Again, it might just need a few minor adjustments or a change of perception, but it’s worth it.

I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how he’s doing and what progress he has made.  Feel free to share your children’s experiences if you are also having a problem at the moment, and I’ll happily give you some ideas if you are struggling to get some.

You might like to sign up for my email list (which is different from subscribing to the blog), as during January you get a free online course.  I’m also about to announce a free webinar for February, which will give you more insight into understanding yourself and your children, which will help with coming up with these sorts of strategies, which goes well with the course.

Bullying Pt 13 – Ideas on Strategies To Employ

So, I realised that I have talked a lot about what creates the whole bullying situation and how it can be addressed at home.  But I haven’t gone into lots of detail about how to identify what kind of strategies to teach your kids.  I am assuming that you have at least read my two summaries on Bullying before reading this one, so I’m not going to duplicate the details in there.

Bullying : Summary of What to Do

Bullying: Summary of Concepts

 

That means, that by the point you are reading this blog, you have worked through:

Step 1 – Deal with your issues first

Step 2 – Stand back & objectively have a look at the Support/Challenge

Step 3 – What are they getting from it on both sides?

Step 4 – Devise a strategy

a) Where can you help to re-balance the support/challenge in your child’s life?

b) Help your child learn directly, what they have been learning indirectly.

c) Involve the school

d) Create a plan of action & monitor it

Help your child learn directly, what they have been learning indirectly.

So you know how I look at bullying from a different perspective and suggest that the bullied child is being given a hint about the fact that there is an area of their life that needs strengthening or something they need to learn?  What I’m going to talk about is how to identify what your child needs to learn and then how to implement it.

There are seven areas of life, which if translated into a child/teenager’s world would look like this:

1) Spiritual – Views about what life means, religion, spirituality, ideas about a bigger picture.  For children, this is likely to be noticeable to other children by obvious differences like clothing or food choice, possibly colour, although that will depend on where they live.  When they get older, it will become more obvious, especially when views get expressed and discussed.

2) Mental – When younger is likely to be mainly to do with language and how vocal kids are.  Then as they got older it will change more towards how clever they are at different subjects.

3) Vocational – Now obviously a toddler doesn’t really have a ‘job’, so think instead of their purpose in life, do they feel as though they have a value.  Job’s may kick in as they get older, either as a badge of honour (working in a pub!), or as an embarrassment because of not being available.  Plus the parent’s jobs will have an effect.

4) Financial – Again a toddler doesn’t really have their own dosh, and I suspect that only a teeny tiny percentage will actually notice clothes/cars etc, but they will quickly become aware of who has what toys.  As they get older, this becomes very important, to teens because of clothes, phones and gadgets!

5) Family – is their relationships at home and later as teens, their romantic relationships.

6) Social – is their general understanding of social etiquette, handling different male/female different situations and how confident or over-confident they are in a group situation.  This is incredibly important to all kids and teens in most cases, as often from a very young age, seeing their friends is a priority to them.

7) Physical – Finally, this is all about strength, looks, health, comparisons etc.

 

What happens in the case of a child being bullied, is that they are weak in one of these areas of life.  Ironically, being strong or weak in an area of life, is not actually anything to do with ‘reality’, but instead perception i.e. how we feel or view about ourselves.  A girl can be beautiful, but just not appreciate herself (or in the case of my school, vice versa!).  Someone can be fabulous at maths, but desperately unhappy because they are not so good at english.  Some could be terribly aware of their differences to the other children and others, just walk in totally unaware and oblivious.

I’m going to blog about perception in a different post (so I definitely recommend you checking that one out as well), but here we are going to focus on how to help your child become stronger.

Firstly, why would you bother?  After all, your child is really bright, why does it matter that they feel physically weak?  The reason is because you are looking (I assume!), to give your child a safe and bright future.  Have you ever wondered how come one person gets made redundant and their life falls apart, whereas someone else is hardly effected?  Same for divorce or relationship issues, and all sorts of problems?  One reason is because if someone has varied interests across all areas of life (I’m not talking about being a star in all of them, just that there is something going on in each area), then when a key area of life gets tackled by a trauma or tragedy, they have all the other areas to keep them going and give them a reason for being.  Whereas someone who only focusses on two areas, will be devastated if something goes wrong in one of those areas.

Now, there are hundreds of potential strategies, and I am not going to go into detail into each and everyone, because you and your family are unique.  But if you have been following all my other guides, you will be feeling pretty calm about the whole issue, so you will easily be able to find the strategy that will work for you.

The most important thing to NOT do, is tell them that the bully is bad, and that they are the victim of the whole scenario, because that will just weaken them even more.  Plus you don’t want to sit there and say ‘what did you do?’, as though it is their fault, as that won’t work either.

Let’s ignore ‘fault’ for a moment and instead come up with a strategy to make a difference:

Spiritual:

everyone needs to learn when to speak up about their views and when not too.  Young kids can be very self-righteous about beliefs, so it might be an idea to teach them discernment.  If they are being bullied due to religious issues etc, then have a look for children with families who would not behave in that manner, or maybe focus on teaching them a thicker skin, where it really doesn’t matter what some kids think.

Mental:

Where are they really brilliant?  Focus on that, I bet there is somewhere.  You may want to help them out with some additional assistance at home, or an extra class in something that would interest them (e.g. drama).

Financial:

It can undoubtedly be tough if a child feels inadequate because they don’t ‘have’ the same things that other kids have.  But stick with it and be certain.  Find them stories of famous people in the same situation, show them how it will benefit them in the long run.  There are literally hundreds of examples of situations where spoilt kids end up financially broke, because they never learn to handle money.

Vocational:

Where could they be given a sense of purpose and importance within the family?  Is there a little job that they could be doing in order to earn their pocket money or improve their financial status?

Familial:

Focus on why they are lucky to have the family structure that they have.  Does it mean that they get more quality time separately with each parent?  Does it mean the grand parents are more involved?  Look at the families that are so called ‘ideal’, I bet you that with a little close inspection, they are not ideal at all.  Help your child be sure of how lucky they are to have what they have.  With relationships, well that’s a whole kettle of trouble for them as they grow up, so lots of preparation with talking about relationships in the early years, will help you keep tabs on things as they age.

Social:

Use books, DVD’s, role playing, games, talking, or maybe extra-curricular classes to help your child gain confidence socially.  What is their value?  What is special about them?  Do they know how to handle social situations?  Social confidence will pretty much overcome any other problem that they face, because if they know that they have a value socially, then they know their purpose in their social group!  Remind them that it is an odd situation to have to get on with other kids purely because of their age; whereas when they go to work it will be more down to interest.

Physical:

If they are rubbish at sport as I was, try a broader perspective because now a days there are HUGE numbers of different activities available.  Remember, they maybe slow to learn, but given a chance, they can still learn to tackle something, somewhere.  There was a wonderful story on pride of britain this year, about a Mum who took her daughter to martial arts classes, after she was bullied at school due to her artificial legs; Fantastic approach!  I know a gorgeous girl with no hair, who is so strong and so confident, that having wigs has never appeared to cause her problems.  However impossible it appears, keep your eyes open for places that they can gain some confidence.  Remember, many people are amazingly attractive, even though their physical appearance is not gorgeous.  (Cases such as anorexia are obviously much more complicated, and when I get a chance, I’ll give some ideas for them as well).

So in summary, you are going to help your child empower and strengthen the area of life, that the bully has highlighted to you could do with some strengthening.  I’ve written 2 blogs on my own sons experiences so far, and will continue to do so as he grows and faces different types of bullying.


Bullying Pt 12 – The Bully returns for my son

So, if you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I was originally inspired to write all these ‘bullying’ posts by my little 3yr old being ‘bullied’ at his nursery.  It was a situation with a little boy, who I suspect (but I never got a chance to help the parents, which I would have loved to do) was feeling powerless at home due to having one very dominating parent, and another not giving clear rules/controls.  He would also get suddenly bored, which is how come it was difficult for the nursery to predict when the problem would occur, because it was as though he would suddenly switch for no reason.

I applied some changes to the support/challenge in my son’s life at home (i.e where life goes his way and doesn’t) and did puppet role play shows on how to walk away from a situation, and the problem appeared to go away.

However, new nursery, new problem!  This one has less of a problem with boredom as it is more structured, and they are stricter, so there isn’t really obvious physical bullying.  Instead, we have the more subtle feminine side of bullying, with the use of WORDS and power over who does and doesn’t belong!  The kids are brighter, older and much cleverer, so it is a totally different kettle of fish.  Now I don’t know them well enough to know exactly what their backgrounds are which is creating their behaviour, but they are definitely looking to create more ‘support’ for themselves at nursery, by creating a ‘gang’ that they can belong in.  (Remember, bullies are not ‘bad’ – we all bully somewhere – they are just attempting to fill a need).  There are quite a lot of girls, so they are all attempting to work out the hierarchy and displaying signs of ‘power’ and who would be most valuable to ‘belong’ to!

Why has it occurred for Curly Headed Boy again?  Well, we have just come back from holiday, where I worked for 5 days and he got thoroughly spoilt.  Plus he arrived 2 weeks after everyone else, so isn’t automatically fitting in.  He probably walked in a little cocky, expecting it to be like his old nursery where the shouts of his name would be everywhere as he arrived.  He needs to learn to adapt to a bigger environment, where he isn’t such a big fish.  Plus, he needs for life to be going slightly less the way he always wants it at home!  (Remember, I’ve talked about the ‘challenge’ of bullying occurring when there is too much ‘support’ elsewhere in their lives).

 

Now, although I don’t get really ‘upset’ about bullies etc, it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to take some action.  So here is what I’ve done so far:

1) Alert the nursery to the fact that I’m totally aware of the situation, and am not willing for it to continue for too long.  In my view it is their job to ensure that the kids all understand that it is not acceptable behaviour at school to refuse to play with someone because of their gender/size/race/background etc.  If they don’t do that, then they aren’t helping the ‘bullies’ who need to learn some safe boundaries.  If they get caught with that sort of behaviour at the up and coming assessments for primary schools, they will be in big trouble!  However, of course, they can’t force a child to play with another child, and that’s not what I’m attempting to make them do.

Update: the nursery were great, and admitted that there was a slight problem in the room.  They are now being much more consistent and certain about the behaviour expected at nursery.  They have also had a whole week concentrating on ‘friendly behaviour’ at circle time, and have even asked Max to share his strategies (see below).

2) Started to suss out the Mums in the playground and found another Mum in the same situation.  So we can set up a ‘play date’ where are kids gain some ‘power’ by getting to know each other.  I’m going to keep looking and help Curly Headed Boy learn how to look for potential friends and remember names (challenging in a larger class of 16 with 2 teachers!).

Update: This very quickly helped both him and another child facing a similar problem.  They immediately understood that it wasn’t personal, and that there were potential allies in the room, so it had an almost overnight affect.  Got lots more booked up as well; gonna have to buy him a diary to keep track ;o)

3) Talked Curly Headed Boy through the 4 alternatives to what to do (at his age) when a child doesn’t want to play with him (they told him he was a boy, so he couldn’t play with the girls).

Firstly, clearly say that if they don’t want to play with him, it’s not a problem, because he’ll find someone better to play with (maintain his power).

Secondly, to check around the playground for someone else who is alone and play with them (Look for opportunities).

Thirdly, look for something fun to do on his own (show initiative & confidence).

And Finally, in the situation that they want to play with him, but not do what he wants to do, then he can either give in and play what they want, or create a new idea, or make a ‘deal’ to play their game and then his (he is good at deals!).

Update: Not only did he apply these strategies, but I also saw him apply them in a park a few days later.  There was a group of boys, with a ‘leader’ who was very clever at manipulating situations.  They systematically spat at, kicked, pushed and called him names.  During which time, I clung to the park bench, knowing that I needed to let him handle the situation himself.  He was amazing, I was so proud of him,  He tried every strategy I had given him (I’m going to blog more about strategies soon), and eventually actually started to create allies int he group.  I’m now very grateful to those little girls at his nursery, for their very gentle introduction into a much more severe world of child-power-play.

 

I have no doubt that the social lessons he is learning here will set him in good stead for when he goes to primary school next year.  Plus although the game has upped in intensity/complication a bit, he is also capable of understanding more complicated social situations now.  Finally, he is beginning to get his head around the fact that I’ve been telling him that there will always be people both loving and disliking him in life, and that is OK.  If he can learn to understand that, it will save him a world of pain in the future, and instead he will automatically just look around for who does like him, rather than worry about who doesn’t.

It’s ironic that I have picked a co-ed school for Curly Headed Boy, rather than single sex, which would have a much simpler version of bullying for him!  But heh, that is real life, so, and I think that he is capable of dealing with it, even at this age (others might not) and therefore it will stand him in good stead for life.  Bear this in mind when considering single/co-ed schools – what would suit your child and their current social maturity levels?

Bullying – Summary of what to do

I’ve been blogging about bullying for ages, but it’s a complicated subject and I realised that you might be needing a quick summary on how to start tackling the issue.  Please bear in mind that you will probably need to read my other blogs to get the background situation and examples, plus you will definitely need to read the Bullying Summary of the concepts.

So this is a ‘quick’ summary.  With the proviso, that it is ‘quick’, not thorough, and there are different degrees of bullying, some of which are quickly resolved and some of which you might need some assistance with.

 
Step 1 – Deal with your issues first so you can be objective

This is an emotional subject and you are likely to either be upset because you are remembering what it was like to be bullied yourself, feeling terribly protective, or really mortified because you feel guilty that your child has been doing the bullying.  So in order for you to deal with this, you first need to be able to see the situation clearly.

 

Step 2 – Stand back and have a look at the Support/Challenge

If your child is being ‘bullied’, where is the support/ease/life going the way they like it?  Where are they ‘popular’?  Where are they getting their own way?  Are they ‘over-protected’ somewhere?

If you child is the ‘bully’, where is the challenge/difficulty/unease in their lives?  Are they feeling insecure, lacking in power, bored, or needing more freedom?

 
Step 3 – What are they getting from it on both sides?

 
What is your ‘bullied’ child getting from being bullied?  Why do their so called ‘persecutors’ need to do it?
What is your ‘bullying’ child getting from the bullying?  What are their so called ‘victims’ getting from it?
What do they all need to learn?
What is it directing them to do or not do?

 
Step 4 – Devise a strategy

 
1) Where can you help to re-balance the support/challenge in your child’s life? Does the bully need something to give them more security, or more clear guidelines/boundaries, or for a parent to back off, or for a parent to stand up for themselves more?
Does the bullied child need more responsibility at home, less spoiling, or more consistency and rules.

 
2) Help your child learn directly, what they have been learning indirectly.
Now my son is nearly 4, so I can have chats with him, but I also need to use things like role playing with puppets to get the point across.  If your child doesn’t understand chats, then you might want to look for a media that they will understand for example a story/book/film/TV program that will initiate a conversation.  If they are bullying they may need to understand the consequences of their actions, either with a form of punishment or a look at how it will affect them detrimentally in the future.  How can you teach them the social interaction lessons that they are learning from the episodes?

 
3) Involve the school
Just because I don’t think that bullies are bad kids, doesn’t mean that I don’t think that the school should get involved.  I don’t think that vilifying the bullies will help, or rescuing the bullied.  However, clear signals an rules as to what is expected and allowed in behaviour at school is definitely necessary.
 

4) Create a plan of action & monitor it
Remember you can’t remove bullying from your child’s life, but you can rejig where it displays.  So create a plan of action, and then monitor it over a period of time to see where it is and isn’t working.  Get in touch with me on my fan page or via my website if you require any assistance.
 
 

Bullying Summary of the Concepts

I thought it might be useful to summarise all the concepts that I have covered in my Bullying Blogs for you guys.

(See my other blogs for the background information for these, you’ll probably need explanations to explain why these concepts work):

 

1) Labels are not useful and don’t fix anything.  In fact in some way everyone is a Bully, just as much as each other; it’s just that the majority of us do it in subtle or more socially acceptable ways.

 

2) Bullying can not be destroyed as it is a part of human nature, so trying to remove it is naive and will just move it to more subtle or difficult places to monitor; that doesn’t mean that it can’t be dealt with though.  It is therefore in all of our lives, the problem is when it is in a place or focussed so strongly that it causes distress or when the parents don’t know about it.

 

3) The objective instead is to understand the bullying and learn from it, so that it becomes something our kids don’t notice or that just goes over their heads.

 

4) A child who is being bullied will be being overly supported / protected / liked somewhere in their lives.  There is always a balance in our lives (although it’s often not easy to see) of ease/difficulty and support/challenge.  It can help with the resolution of the problem to look at the other side of the picture.

 

5) Everyone is both liked and disliked to an equal degree, it is impossible to be liked by everyone, but also more comfortingly we will never be disliked by everyone either!

 

6) The ‘bullied’ child will gain benefits from being bullied (the silver-lining), and if we can help them understand, appreciate and learn from this and the concepts above, then they do not need to feel victimised & powerless.

 

7) The ‘bullying’ child also requires some assistance (although I’m not against consequences and punishment either), as the reason that they are ‘bullying’ is to gain a supportive/enjoyable experience in order to deal with something else in their lives that they are finding challenging or because they need someone to put their foot down and give them boundaries that are lacking elsewhere.

 

8) An example of what the ‘Bullied’ child can gain from the experience is to learn to stand up for themselves, or to mix with other children who might be a ‘better influence’ or more suitable for them.

 

9) An example of why a ‘Bullying’ child does it, is because they need Power, Freedom, Belonging or Fun, i.e. they feel powerless at home due to under-dominating parents, or have lack of choice due to dominating parents, or are insecure about belong loved or belonging, or are bored.

 

10) The ‘Bully’ is not ‘horrid’ or ‘evil’ and the ‘Bullied’ is not an ‘angel’.  Thinking of them like that will cloud the issues and stop them from being resolved, which is the most important thing.

 

Now, if any of this pushes some buttons (and I would totally understand if it does, as bullying is a very emotional subject), please read my other blogs before jumping to conclusions.  I’m not just saying all this for no apparent reason and with no background.  It has come from 10yrs of studying, a 40yr lifetime of experience, plus being a Mum myself.  So bear with me, I’m attempting to help us all resolve the growing problems of bullying in the UK.

Bullying Pt11 – More Insights into the Bully

This weekend, I met a ‘bully’ and gained even more insights into their psychology.  I think that the important thing to remember is that each person and situation is unique, and to remember the concept of balance.

What are they balancing out within their family dynamic?

What are they balancing out within themselves?

What are they balancing out within the social/school/work dynamic?

What reaction are they tending to get?  Is it the same or different in the alternative situations?

 

For instance, I talked in a previous blog about a child, who was balancing out her mum’s very peace loving nature, because in a family there will always be a balance of war/peace or gentleness/aggression.  In her situation, she was gaining her Mum learning to get in touch with her tougher side, in order to give that little girl clearer boundaries.  She was not only going to gain from the boundaries, but also from a stronger Mummy who would learn to take care of herself more.  Here, the family can just redress the balance of gentleness/aggression and learn to love their un-peaceful sides, to bring the family back into balance.

 

But you can also get a child who has bullied because they are ‘bullied’ at home or at school.  So it comes from the fact that they are feeling very powerless in one area and are wanting to redress the balance and regain the power.  Here, if the ‘bullying’ is at home and the family can be shown how to regain control using calmness, then the child’s need to bully will reduce.  If the bullying is at school, then the child can be taught how they are wonderful, and given more self-belief, so that they no longer feel a lack of power.

 

In a social or work situation, they will be balancing out that the ‘bullied’ is getting loads of support from elsewhere.  This was certainly the situation for me one evening this weekend.  I suspect it was infuriating for the ‘bully’ who expected to walk into the social situation with a position of power, to find me already nicely ensconced.  Meanwhile, I had assumed that the evening would go as other’s had done, so my protective boundaries were down, and I was unprepared for the situation.  However, I gained from it, some practice into what my lovely PR girl calls a ‘rat trap’, which was a much better way to do it, than in front of a journalist, plus I didn’t handle it as well as I might if I’d been prepared, but I did OK, so I came out looking alright from it, which is important to me because it was the easiest way to prove to some of the other people there, that they will be safe in working with me in the future.

 

So what does a ‘bully’ gain when someone stands up to them?  They are getting a reminder to bring themselves down a notch or two.  If they learn the lesson, it makes them a great deal more attractive to other people, because being arrogant is not a characteristic which tends to be popular.  Of course, some are generally just bored, because they have an easy life of it elsewhere, so they are actually looking for a bit of excitement when they upset the ‘bullied’ and hence get a good argument going.  So what they are getting from it, is very much to do with the type of reaction that they get.

 

When people let the ‘bully’ get away with it, then they are gaining power, and improving their self-worth.  If they have gained a following, which often happens at school, then they will then continue with the tactic in order to maintain their position and feeling of belongingness.  I remember a girl at school who would pick on me repeatedly.  But then one day her best friend decided to become best friends with my best friend (girls!!).  So they came to me and this girl and asked us if we would be best friends in order to make sure that we were not alone, and we duly complied!  It totally worked, she got the same degree of belonging by being my friend, as she had from picking on me!

Bullying – Pt10 – What on Earth could be the benefits?

So, if you or your child is being bullied, then it may just be in a minor form, and so it’s not a huge button presser.  However, if bullying is a big deal for you, then it is really worth you checking out this post.  Keep an open mind while reading it please!  Remember, the reason I’m telling you all this is so that it is possible for you to change/shift the way that bullying turns up in your families lives.

I’m not an overly positive person, but my training has proved to me that the universe is not totally cruel, so the old-fashioned saying of ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ is true.  That means that there will be a ‘silver lining’ to when you are bullied or when you have been bullied.  (I do understand that this is a challenging concept when applied to harsher subjects, but I can promise you that there isn’t a single situation that I haven’t been able to find the silver lining for my clients for, however ‘horrific’ the event, and it becomes very comforting to them to know that it is there).

The important thing when looking for what someone gained from a situation, is to remember that everyone is different.  So what one person gains, would be totally different from someone else.  It’s important to think about what you value in life, to have or do or be.  What do you do, where do you do it, why, and how do you do it?

Normally when something happens, we will react in a certain way.  So why would did it help to react that way?

Then sometimes over time we change our behaviour and learn to adapt, e.g. by standing up for ourselves, or not getting drawn in.  So how did the adapting help out?

If you then look forwards to afterwards, what wouldn’t have been able to happen if they/you hadn’t been able to learn that skill?  Remembering, that we are just like toddlers.  Sometimes we have to experience something over & over again, before we truly learn, just as they put their fingers in a drawer over & over!

So if your child is being bullied, it will help you to see your way clear and what to do about it, if you can look for the silver-lining, because then the emotion will be reduced a bit.  Emotion is understandable, but it gets in the way of us parents finding a clear solution.  If your child is bullying, then you will be able to see them much more easily, if you can understand that when you bullied someone will have gained something from it, and the same can be said of the children that your child is bullying.

I’m not saying that just because there is a benefit to bullying, that there shouldn’t be any consequences for the bully.  I’m just saying that to really change the way it appears, we need to able to see the problem clearly.

For me as a child, the benefits were mainly that it made me very competitive academically.  I worked extremely hard and enjoyed it, whereas my brothers all focussed on sport.  It gave me an incredibly good foundation, the opportunity to do a degree, and a wonderful job for 13 yrs in IT.  As a daughter arriving to elderly parents 20yrs after their sons, there was the possibility of me being spoilt.  Whereas, the responsibilities at home and bullying at school, made sure that I didn’t become a precocious little brat (in my opinion anyway!).  Plus, as my parent’s health worsened in my teenage and I struggled with it, I was less likely to ‘get into trouble’ as I was quite old-fashioned.  I got used to being different, and even now I have studied the most cutting edge techniques that I know will make the most difference to Mums, in comparison to standard ‘personal development’ or ‘parenting techniques’.  I wouldn’t give any of that up, in order to have not been bullied at school at all.

For my little boy so far, it has taught me how to balance the scales of support and challenge very easily at home, as it was just is a minor, although scary situation for him (i.e. it’s not long-standing).  This balance, is giving him more consistency and a fairer balance between myself and my husband.  Plus, it will change my choice of school for him and clarified what I’m looking for in his present/next nursery.  I would probably have taken the easy route of leaving him at his present nursery until school, whereas now I’m much more likely to send him elsewhere for the final year.  We’ll see what he gets from that!

Bullying Pt9 – Everyone Is a Bully

Oooh, that’s a challenging title.  But bear with me.

Some has just contacted me to say that ‘Once a bully always a bully and once a bullied always a bullied’, which is what prompted me to write this post, which I’ve been meaning to get around to for ages.  There is an ounce of truth in the quote that I was sent, but with a slight difference, which is:

Everyone is a BULLY.  

Everyone gets BULLIED.  

ALL the time.  

AS much as each other.  

Just in DIFFERENT ways/places.

 

Now that might be a bit challenging, but bear with me and I will explain myself!

The reason that I’m saying this, is because if you really want to transform the bullying in yours/your child’s life, then we need to start with a true understanding of the situation.  From there, we can make a real change.  After all, how depressing would it be if it was really true that you were labelled as either bully/bullied from the start and that was how the rest of your life was going to be.  Things would be looking pretty miserable for me, that’s for sure.

 

Step 1: Define what bullying means to you

Surprisingly you will find that it is different for different people.  E.g. general picking on to making someone feel unconfident/unhappy (my experience of school), name calling, physically beating, scareing someone (this is what happened to my little boy), taking things from them, ignoring them, making them do things they don’t want to do – oh the list is endless.

 

Step 2: Now have a look for where you have done that definition elsewhere

It’s quite likely that if you were bullied at school, there were at least a couple of incidents where you also ‘bullied’ (see your definition above), or stood by and let it happen to someone else.  But keep looking in different places in your life, either then or now.  For example, work, spiritual views, finances, physical health, social networks, family/relationships.  Plus, it might not have been to the same extent or focussed at just one child, it might be that it was lots of little times.

In my life now I totally do that!  I definitely don’t let Curly Headed Boy do what he wants to do all the time, that’s when he says I’m being ‘rude or naughty’!  There are times with my clients, that I have to initially help them to see someone painful before we can move on.  There are other times that my clients are a bit full of themselves and not appreciating their lives/relationships/work and my job is to bring more love of their life back, which requires me showing them how great those things are, and that maybe they are not the as much ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ as they think; you know we all need to be brought down a peg or too sometimes, for our own health!  You’ll have taken promotions and jobs away from people, and affected the financial health of your family by deciding what could/couldn’t be afforded.  There will be people that you didn’t invite around because you were not keen on their views.  Do you see, how it goes?

It’s not that you had the intention of bullying someone.  It’s just that they saw something that you did in a specific way, and therefore felt a certain way about it.

 

Step 3: There is an equal amount

If bullying or being bullied has been an issue for you or your child, then take a week or so with a big notebook and write down all the times that you/they have felt like a bully or like they are being bullied.

Admittedly the ‘bullying’ may always be coming/going to a particular person in a very focussed way.  Whereas the balance/opposite could be coming/going to many different people in many different places.  But if you can start to understand that it is always there, and always will be, then we can really help to transform it in your lives.

Remember at the beginning I said that bullying is always there.  BUT you can change the way it shows up in your life or your kids life.  That’s what I’m looking for with my kids.  A balance of both me and my husband bullying him at home, so that it isn’t purely the ‘job’ of one person to keep him on the straight and narrow and give him boundaries.  Plus a balance at nursery/school which doesn’t come from a particular child, but is generally mixed around all the children when they are a bit grumpy.

 

This is something that is achievable.

Plus it doesn’t make anyone powerless or a victim.

Plus once you learn it, it will stay with you, so it is sustainable.

So even if it is a little tricky to get your head around, I’d love it if you would have a go and let me know how you do.

 

Bullying Pt 8 – Why Bully?

Understanding why a child bully’s and helping them is much more complicated in my view than the bullied, but still possible.

As I’ve mentioned before, they are balancing out the support/challenge (ease/difficulty) in the bullied child’s life.  However, the question is, why them, why are they balancing it out, rather than someone else?  What is the balance of support/challenge in the bully’s life?

The first hint, is in what they gain from it, which is the opposite to the bullied child.  The bullied child is being taught to stand up for themselves in some way. The bully is being taught to be more humble and understand how other people feel.

We all bully in some way, but the question is, what leads them to be bullying so extremely with the kids at school.  Where they bullied themselves, so they are getting a view of the ‘other side’?  We all do this, criticize someone for doing something and then end up finding ourselves doing it somehow.

Plus of course, they maybe unaware of the bullying and see it totally differently.  When I went back to several school reunions, (the last one being 20yrs – how scary!), the ‘bullies’ met me with what appeared to be really genuine pleasure.  They were remembering the times that we had got on, whereas I had remembered the times when I had been upset.  Looked at objectively, they couldn’t possibly have been bullying me 24hrs a day.

Then there is the very aggressive child with the really gentle and ‘nice’ parent.  The parent is repressing all their anger and frustration, and the child tends to display it instead.  When the parent is stronger with the child, giving them boundaries and clarity, then the child calms down.  This is the balance of aggression within the family.  I remember a really lovely girl looking at me desperately as her daughter smacked Curly Headed Boy over the head again, and in her sweet quiet voice saying ‘I just don’t understand why she does that’.  The answer was that the Mum didn’t like upsetting people, so she didn’t express her true feelings and the daughter was attempting to push her to do so.

Or is one or both of the parents aggressive with them, so they feel powerless at home and are trying to feel in control of at least one part of their lives?  It would be natural to then copy their parents habits wouldn’t it.

Then look at what the bully is attempting to achieve?  Is it to have Freedom/Choice, Power/Recognition, Love/Belonging or Fun/Progress (Thes are 4 psychological needs according to Dr William Glasser’s Choice Therapy).  What do they think that they are going to get out of it, and are there other ways for them to get it that we could teach them?

For example, if they want freedom/choice, then they are feeling that they don’t have enough of that elsewhere, maybe they have a very domineering parent, who could do with stepping back a bit?

Or if they would like more Power/Recognition, then maybe then need to feel useful and be given a role and responsibility.  Are they picking on the other child because they are being reminded of their own powerlessness?

If it is to do with Love/Belonging, are they concerned that they are not loved, in which case, is there a way to help them to feel more confident?

If they are getting enjoyment out of it, maybe they need to understand the consequences and have their fun reduced by some kind of punishment, with additional encouragement and ideas of alternative ways to have fun, so they aren’t bored any more.

Punishment alone is unlikely to help, as it won’t address the child’s problems.  I’m not say don’t punish, it depends on the situation and scenario.  But what is more important is to address their perception of where they have Freedom/Power/Love/Fun and looking at any imbalances at home that can be addressed in the support/challenge balance.

Bullying Pt7 – What is ‘Support’ and ‘Challenge’

So when I say that there will always be a balance of ‘Support’ and ‘Challenge’ and people liking or not liking you in life, almost as though there are a set of scales being tipped both way, then what do I mean?

 

People Liking or Not Liking You

People will like you some days and not like you others.

Often, it’s mild, in the form of agreeing or not agreeing with you, which is purely down to wether they see you as agreeing with what they value or not.  For instance, there is a TV presenter of a UK program called ‘Loose Women’.  Normally, I’m really not keen.  But she just said something I agree with, so today she seems much more likeable!  Whereas, there is another of their presenters, who I normally love, who has just said something totally daft in the press (according to my limited opinion!), so I’m less keen on her today.

Like and not like is transitory.  It’s not even really real.  Remember, we tend to like people despite their downsides and dislike them despite their nice bits.  That’s just who we are!

Just because someone doesn’t like what we just said, or our dress sense, or our choice of job, doesn’t mean that they won’t want to spend time with us as a mate.  If they do decide that we mis-match their values enough for them to not like us and not want to spend time with us, it just means that we will match someone else’s, so we’ll be friends with someone else instead.

 

Support and Challenge

So feeling liked is supportive, i.e. we like it and feeling disliked is challenging, i.e. we don’t like it (unless you are a bit contrary!).

Supportive things are:  Getting your own way, doing what you want to do, being told you are fabulous, being bought want you want, eating & drinking when & what you want, going to bed when you want, seeing / doing what you want, feeling protected and taken care of.

Challenging things are: Having to wait for what you want, being told you can’t have it, being told what to do or where to go, being told off, responsibilities, duties, being independent, having to buy your own things.

I bet you can already see that there are downsides to the supportive stuff, if over done, because you’ll end up with a spoilt precocious immature brat.  Plus there are benefits to the challenges, because you get a confident, self-reliant child with understandings of boundaries.  However, too much challenge and too little child and the child is over-stressed, so what you are looking for is a nice mixture of the two.

Keep an eye on the scales of ‘support’ and ‘challenge’ in your child’s life.  The aim is for a balance at home and at school, with young and old, and girls and boys, rather than for one location to totally balance out the other.