Bullying Blues

 

bully-655660_1280I’ve been wanting to touch this topic for a while. I’m so passionate about it that I find myself getting carried away when discussing it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to voice and make a difference about. The problem with bullying is that it’s spiraled out of control. It’s become something that’s so big and comes in so many different ways to do it and happening younger.
Bullying signs can start to happen in really young years and some parents sit back and say, “They’re kids” “They’ll figure it out”.
NOT OK.
Yes, Einstein, they are kids. We know this. Which also means that they don’t know anything other than what we teach them and what we permit. If you see your kid being a little mini bully, put that problem to rest real quick. Reprimand your kid right when it happens, discipline them in a way that will get through to them to understand that it’s not acceptable behavior, and then later discuss what happened with them, try to figure out their thought process why they did it, and make sure they understand that it will not happen again.
Bullying needs to be taken seriously every time it’s mentioned. Period.
Bullying starts at childhood, when it’s not corrected it is something that continues to happen all the way through adulthood. The bullies usually get meaner and in their own mindless heads feel more powerful. It can go from hurtful words to then hazing or physical abuse. It goes from one person to a group of people causing pain together.
I was inspired to touch this subject now because of the recent viral video of a child crying in his moms car after school because of being bullied. It made my heart heavy, gave me chills, and my eyes flooded with tears. This little boy was so cute, so intelligent, and so brave.  I’ve read different things about this particular story that made it controversial and I don’t know the facts so I wont get into that but there’s no denying that this kid was in pain. It was raw and real. Someone’s pain due to being bullied should never be discredited.
There’s always going to be struggles, weaknesses, insecurities, or differences with all individuals. It’s not ever ok to then zoom in on them and make fun of them. We are our own worst critics. We know when we look different than others, have learning disabilities, if we aren’t as good at things, or if we are embarrassed about something in our lives. The last thing we need is for other people to then point those flaws out.
The only difference is between the bully and one being bullied is strength and weakness. The person who is being bullied is so strong to get up and face the day without attacking others because of their insecurities. The bully is weak and makes themselves feel better by belittling other people.
Growing up, I over all lived a normal, happy, childhood. I wasn’t the prettiest, smartest, or most talented. I was an average kid who had good friends and a family who adored me. I was very secure with who I was and never felt belittled. As I got a little older, I became a lot more insecure because my peers targeted my weaknesses and used them to hurt me. I’d come home from high school crying because other girls made me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, or cool enough to be friends with. They completely eroded my confidence.
I dreaded going to school. I couldn’t wait until the afternoon was over and I could go home to my happy place and be around people who made me feel good. Even a hard day wasn’t so bad because it would only last the eight hours during the school day. I didn’t have to deal with social media or much interaction with these peers when the school day ended. Sure, I got the occasional prank calls but other than that, I was home free for the day. Until the next day to feel that way all over again.
 
Bullying has grown from a private or face to face issue to becoming a very public issue called cyber bullying
I saw more days of bullying as I got older when I had my first introduction to social media.  I remember a time someone posted a picture of me on their social media with the word written underneath it, “How ugly is this bitch?”. There was over 30 people who I didn’t know who all put their two cents in about how ugly I was. Talk about bad day for a teenager. I was devastated and humiliated. I obsessively watched all the commenting pour in. I didn’t know why anyone would be so mean to me. Some of the people who fuel a bully’s fire don’t even really agree with what they’re saying they agree to but they’re joining a side. That still makes you a bully.
Now, being thirty one years old, I reflect on those days, see pictures of myself then, and think why did I even care? Why did I beat myself up so bad over what they said? Why did I shed one tear on these people and their ignorance? I remember my adult friends telling me how one day I will look back this time and laugh about how stupid it was. A child or teen wont understand that during that time but it ended up being so true.
I understand now that these girls who were so mean to me were only mean because I was special. What made me different than them ended up being the qualities that made me stand out as an adult. They saw what was shiny and bright about me before I did, and tried taking that away.
During those more hurtful times in life and still now, one thing stayed the same; I had a great support system. I had parents who comforted me when I was sad, a brother that stuck up for me when I didn’t stick up for myself, friends who lifted my spirits, older cousins and friends that I looked up to. The core people in my life were stronger than the bullies that were around me.
Before anyone feels too bad for me, I’ve also probably been a bully a time or two (or three or four). Young and Immaturely, there were times I intentionally was mean to someone because I thought that if they made me upset, it was fair game to treat them mean. Sometimes, I probably thought I was innocently picking on someone joking around and maybe it hurt them more than I ever knew. Either way, we’ve all done it to some degree and it’s never acceptable.
Join social media site (or allow your age appropriate children to) with the vow to stay away from negativity, drama, hurting people or getting hurt, if it’s happening, delete it. There’s things we all come across every day that we disagree with, it doesn’t mean that we have the right going to attack someones thoughts or feelings. Interact with others on social media in a positive way. Sharing and commenting with you friends and families joys, their highlights, and photos they’re proud of.
The only way to stop bullying for the younger generations is the constant reminder, kindness is key (we learn that in kindergarten probably and forget to apply it to our adult lives). There will be times that people will hurt us, that doesn’t mean it’s ok that we hurt them back. When we are on top, we don’t look down on everyone we think is beneath us. When you are down, find the people around you who lift you back up.
We teach our kids (and really, remind ourselves) how to navigate through feelings, react maturely to unhappy emotions, and be accountable when handling situations poorly.
The conversations we have in front of kids, the words we use, our actions, what we watch, and who we spend our time with are all ways we can teach them to be kind. If everyone showed displays of kindness in their own life, it would just keep growing and maybe we could put the severity of bullying behind us. Maybe we can make it something that’s a thing of the past that we can tell our kids, “can you believe that people used to just say and do whatever they wanted to people with no consequences? You’re lucky you didn’t live during those days”.
I think if you have real young kids, remember that you’re forming every little thing about them by your own words and actions. As they get older, change bad behavior when it comes up instead of thinking that it’s just kid stuff that they’ll grow out of. If you have kids who are old enough to speak to, speak to them. Ask them about school, their friends, their feelings. Do you know if your kid has any problems at school? Do you know if they’re picking on other kids? When they tell you what’s going on with them, make sure they know they’re safe talking to you about this. Stay calm, let them cry about it, reassure them it will be ok, praise them when they tell you they handled a hurtful situation with grace, or befriended someone being bullied.
It’s an issue where there’s not a recipe for handling the situation so you just have to try your best to find a solution in your own child’s situation. Most likely this behavior is something they learned at home so if you can’t reason with a parent of a bully, maybe talk to a school councilor or teacher. Find a way to regain your child’s self esteem and get them in an activity, club, or sport where they can make friends and feel good having something they look forward to. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the issue or diminish their pain.
Parenting isn’t easy and we don’t always know how to handle life’s struggles ourselves so sometimes we don’t always know what to do for our youth. We try our hardest. Sometimes we will fail. And other times, we will hit a parenting home run. It’s our job as parents and for the sake of humanity to keep learning, being aware, and bringing awareness to issues that are serious like bullying.
For help looking for professional information on bullying, warning signs of bullying and cyber bullying, prevention tips, resources and more, visit www.stopbullying.gov
Find joy in all of your journey,
Leanne, Spoiled Milk
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