A different look at bullying

Bullying has been in the news a lot lately thanks to the Miami Dolphins. It seems that now even sports where an element of bullying has always been accepted as “part of the game” is now no longer immune to scrutiny.

I don’t like bullying. Seriously, who does? However, I assume that my particular viewpoint on bullying will be met with anger, resentment and the possibility of opening myself up to being bullied. I have shared my view with trusted friends, but in light of the current climate I feel like I’m ready to go public with my opinions.

Bullies have existed since the beginning of time. They are nothing new. Are there more ways for them to bully in this age of instant connectivity? Absolutely! But the basic act of bullying remains the same.

A bully frightens, hurts or threatens someone. The intimidation can be used to coerce someone into doing something that he or she wouldn’t otherwise do or is can be used simply to belittle.

Bullies are successful because we give them power. We allow them to control our feelings and emotions. We allow ourselves to feel inferior because of their words or actions. If we decided not to allow ourselves to be bullied, then bullies wouldn’t exist or at least they wouldn’t have the power they seem to have nowadays.

Waaaaaayyyyy easy said than done! I am fully aware of that.

Why is it do you think though that bullying is so much more prevalent nowadays than it was 30-40 years ago when we were kids?

(Hold on because here’s where the hate mail starts…)

Bullies are stronger than ever before because we are raising a generation that has no sense of self-worth. There are no more bullies now than there were back then. People have simply become internally weaker because they don’t believe in themselves.

Self-worth is not created by giving everyone on the team a trophy. Self-worth is not created when Mommy and Daddy tell Jr. that he is the most fabulous, awesome, wonderful individual ever created. Self-worth is not created by giving in to every single want or desire. Self-worth is NOT a product of over-protective, over-bearing, over-indulgent helicopter parenting.

Self-worth grows inside a child when he or she is allowed to fail. Self-worth is nurtured by failing over and over again throughout a lifetime. Self-worth is that thing that is created every time a child falls and instead of Mommy and Daddy swooping in to make it all better, the child picks himself up, brushes himself off and says you know what “I got this.”

“I GOT THIS!” is self-worth plain and simple.

But somewhere along the road of parenting we lost sight of that and instead of allowing our children to say “I got this” we say “There, there precious child of mine, you don’t need to get this. I’ll take care of it for you.” So it is no friggin’ wonder that when bullies come along, our children can’t see that they have the power to stay in control of their feelings…that they have more power than the bully.

Development of self-worth starts very, very early in life. A baby crying in the crib is searching for comfort. In today’s world Mommy and Daddy rush in at every cry to provide that comfort. Essentially letting the child know that whenever life gets you down, Mommy or Daddy will be there for you.

Guess what?! Mommy and Daddy won’t always be there! Kids need to know how to rely on themselves for comfort. News Flash – life sucks and at some point every single human being will be in a situation where he has not a single person to rely on but himself. (The lucky ones will only be in those situations once or twice!) The strong people, those ones you admire, they learned from a very young age that when push comes to shove, “I can get myself back to sleep and I don’t need Mommy or Daddy to do for me.”

Healthy well-adjusted adults know how to comfort themselves. They learned that as babies and it grew in them throughout their childhood when their parents allowed them to feel pain or hurt. For those people rather than “fixing” it, their parents allowed them to say “I got this”.

Self-worth….I’m not sure where it went, but let’s find it again! Let’s teach it to our children by letting them fail. Let’s teach our kids that they have the power to defeat the bullies, not by running and tattling to the principal, not by crying to Mommy and certainly not by taking a razor to their wrists! We need to start raising kids that believe in themselves again or the bullying epidemic will only get worse.

Please understand that I think bullies should be punished. I think that bullying often goes too far and adult intervention is needed. However, I also believe that empowering our children by letting them fail, by teaching them life isn’t fair and by nurturing their self-worth could go a long way to improving our society.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. ~Abraham Lincoln

Bullying is not going to stop. It will always exist. Giving bullies the spotlight, fighting them, punishing them is never going to work. Rather than fighting a losing battle, fight the fight the can be won. Encourage the development of inner strength from the earliest of ages. Encourage independence! Teach your kids to value themselves as worthy opponents in life and maybe just maybe stories like those out of Miami will be rare instead of the norm.

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