Imagine you are at the office one late morning when you suddenly received a call from the school principal. There has been an incident involving your seven-year-old son and another kid in school. It turned out he was bullied by his classmate and ended up crying so hard that he just wanted to go home and never come back.
For a parent whose kid got bullied, we often feel that the bully must be punished. What we don’t realize is that bullies, most of the time, are victims, too.
To properly address this kind of abuse, the school or the parents needs to look at the issue from both sides. During therapies, the bully and the victim are sometimes asked to write what they feel after the incident and surprisingly, it appears that one has the same sentiments as the other.
Before we tell our kids what to do, it is important that they also understand why bullies tend to hurt others. Kids that are emotionally unstable are the ones that usually end up being a bullying.
In Dealing with Bullies, Compassion is the Key
An effective and humane way to deal with a bully is by showing them compassion. Instead of punishing a child for their unpleasant behavior, understanding why they act the way they do is the first thing we need to consider.
According to Deborah Calla of the Huffington Post,
“Compassion is letting someone else feel understood when they are conflicted.”
This is what we need to teach our children.
How to Teach Kids to Deal with Bullies Compassionately
Teach your kids that hate or fear isn’t the answer. They need to stand up for themselves without having to be rude or creating more tension. Remember that more than anything, bullies need compassion.
1. Talk about your own experience.
If your kids got bullied or even if they weren’t, share them your experience. Tell them how you survived bullying in the past and what you learned from it.
2. Help them understand.
Let your child know that bullies get hurt, too. That although it is not appropriate, there’s a deeper reason for their actions.
3. Not all bullies are bad.
Children need to understand that not all bullies are evil and not everyone who is mean to them is a bully. It is important that they know people sometimes are having a bad day and that they should not treat someone as a bully in times where they are mean to them. Sometimes, sad kids tend to be mean even to their friends.
4. Bullies are unhappy people.
Teach your kid the right way to react when someone tries to bully them. In this situation, they should not fight fire with fire. Tell them to compose themselves and confront the kid who is being mean to them in a calm way. Sometimes, a statement like, “You don’t have to be mean to me,” can do magic. Letting the mean kid know they are not allowing themselves to be bullied without having to be mean back can make a difference.
Tell your children that if the person continues to bother them, letting the authority know can be a wise decision. It can be a teacher, a guidance counselor or someone they trust. The earlier an adult gets involved, the better. While bullies can easily make them feel angry and scared, teach your kid that it is best to show bullies compassion and kindness (see info graphic below).
5. The power of compassion. Parents are the role models of their children. So where would they best learn about compassion if not from them? In this social experiment by Brain Games, they showed how a little compassion can change a person’s reaction to someone who just did something mean to them. As parents, it is imperative that your kids learn to be compassionate towards others from you because learning starts at home.
Asking your kids how their day has been in school can be your best way to get a hint if they have been bullied or not. It’s also a good way to let them know that you are always there to listen and so that it won’t be difficult for them to share in case something like that happens.
Encouraging them to write down their experiences and feelings in a journal could also help them express things that they are not yet ready to discuss. That way, you know they’ll have something to hold on to when you are not around.