Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Word About Bullying.....

With the start of a new school year fast approaching, there are no doubt millions of kids with one thing on their mind.

Summer vacation offers kids a reprieve from the daily abuse they suffer at the hands of a playground bully.  When vacation winds down the anxiety and stress of a new school year and the thought of enduring bullying behaviour starts to take it's toll.

I woke up this morning wondering why it is that bullying has become such a widespread problem.  Despite highly recommended anti-bullying programs being implemented in the school system and a brand new law against bullying we are seeing bullying behaviour sky rocket and explode!

Why is this?

Here's my theory.

We don't teach our children self love.  We teach them how to strive for higher grades, become the best at the sport or art of their choice.  We constantly put emphasis on the exterior instead of focusing them inward.  Our children are suffering from self love deficiency. 

In my mind the bully and the bullied are both the same.  They are both experiencing a disconnect from their loving nature.  The only difference is how they handle it and how that disconnect manifests for each of them.

I have read all kinds of reports and research that say that a child who bullies does not have a low self esteem.  And that there really isn't any explanation for the behaviour, except maybe that it is just kids being kids.

I've also read many thoughts on what people think children should do in a bullying situation and what parents should teach their kids in order to avoid bullying altogether.

None of the suggestions include reinforcing the need for love and compassion with self and with others.

Last February when my son was attacked while walking home from school, I made sure to empower him by taking him to the OPP station to report the incident (allowing him to place the responsibility of resolution in the hands of an authoritative figure brought deep relief).  Then we discussed how sad it was that the boy who provoked the attack felt the need to do so and how much his behaviour indicated how much he did not love himself.  Because if he loved and valued himself he might never think to devalue someone else.  My son never fought his attacker, he thankfully walked away unharmed and did not suffer from any post traumatic stress.

Despite being the 'victim' of the attack.  My son understood what I was telling him and he was able to look at this bully with compassion instead of anger or even fear.  I also explained to him the power within his decision for non-violence.
In my opinion I believe if we teach our children about self love and compassion we will see a decrease in the number of bullying incidents.  Why?  Because when your child is secure in himself there is no need to take offense.  The bully can say and do what they like but if your child is wholely secure in themselves there is no need for it to go further than the initial act of something being said or done. 

The other half of this is that at some point very soon we as parents/guardians need to realize that we aren't just raising our kids, we are raising our future and we need to reconcile what we want that future to look like.  In reinforcing compassion and self love you are reinforcing your child's natural leadership qualities so that they can then lead by example.

Imagine what our world would look like if it were filled with confident, compassionate and loving people?  We can hope for the best or we can take action towards fulfilling that image.

This isn't about excessive praise or coddling your child.  It's about helping them see situations through more compassionate, empathetic eyes.   This is their natural gift (just as it is ours), it isn't hard to show your child how to be compassionate.  This is who they want to be because it is what feels good to them.

There are countless opportunities to practice this each and every day.  Our children are hyper aware of the world around them, even if they don't watch or read the news, they know that there is chaos and mayhem in this world.  Use various news stories as a catapult for compassionate conversation.

I've even used our daily interactions with eachother as a way to emphasize compassion.  Afterall, families are our greatest teaching aids and something is always popping up that makes an excellent lesson.

Now is the perfect time to get started in this practice. 

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