It’s that time of year again. Back to school. Already. School supplies have probably been purchased. The first-day outfit is picked out. Classes are scheduled and orientations are starting. But has any one addressed the elephant in the room?
Everyone has had experience with a bully. Even if not by direct association, we have all at least known of a bully. Some of you have maybe never experienced the fear and anxiety associated with waking up every morning, as a child, knowing that the bully will wreck your day.
Maybe you were lucky enough to escape your childhood unscathed by the school bully.
Maybe you were one of them.
As a parent with a brand new child, you have many hopes and dreams for your child. You genuinely want nothing but the best for your child and rightfully so.
When your child is first born, encountering a bully isn’t the first thing on your mind, although it isn’t entirely unreasonable for it to cross your mind at some point in the first five years. This is especially likely if you were ever a victim of a bully yourself. That’s how scary and prevalent the bully has been in American society. Victims are always aware.
What about this, though: If you have never been bullied, in any capacity, is it possible that you are more likely to raise a child that ends up being the bully?
You are your child’s very first human encounter. And you will be the major influence on what kind of person they become. What that means is that if your child ultimately goes to school and picks on other children, this is on you.
Your Child Is Not Born A Bully
If your child is a bully, I’m not saying you raised your child to be a bully. No, I don’t believe that generally speaking, any parents raise their children to pick on others. As part of a defensive or superiority tactic, it is possible that some parents raise bullies on purpose. But, most parents are shocked to find out their child has been bullying. What I am saying, is that children learn everything about how to be from their parents. They also learn by being taught by their parents.
This is so important.
Just because you didn’t teach your child to be a bully doesn’t mean you taught them not to be a bully. YES! This is something you need to teach them! Kids learn from experience, but they also learn by being taught. Case in point: potty training. Yes, it’s the same. Teach your kid not to be an asshole or they might be one.
While the idea of teaching your kids, don’t judge a book by its cover, sounds good, it’s tantamount to the do what I say, not what I do theory and doesn’t work. Why? Well besides the fact that instructing your kid to do what you say and not what you do is asinine. You can’t be an asshole and expect your kid not to. And when it comes to not judging a book by its cover: everybody judges! Let’s pretend that’s not true. Nope, I can’t do it. Everybody does it. Not everyone does it in a malicious way, but everybody does it in some way. I could go into some examples and how the judgments can be both accurate and entirely inaccurate, but that isn’t my point and it’s not even relevant. Everybody judges.
But not everybody has diarrhea of the mouth regarding every passing thought/judgment. Generally speaking, we teach our children to be respectful and not to say things that would hurt someone’s feelings. Just because you think something, doesn’t mean you say it. Treating people with kindness, regardless of what you see is something that must be taught.
I live in a world where I am judged by how I look, how I talk, what I wear, what kind of car I drive, what kind of house I live in, how many kids I have, if my hair and nails are done, if I have weight problems, skin problems, being ugly problems, or any other superficial thing that can be observed by people who encounter me on a daily basis. I am also judged by who my parents and family members are, as well as the one thing I take full responsibility for, my own kid’s behavior.
They Learn It
Kids learn what kind of behavior is ok in life and unless you are a genuine saint, they are bound to learn some of your bad behavior. Remember when your kid was new at speaking and understanding the English language and you could spell out words you didn’t want them to be able to interpret? That didn’t last long. If you spelled out n-a-p-t-i-m-e or i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m or an expletive or had any other way of speaking in code, it wouldn’t be long before your kid could have that figured out.
My point? Kids are smart. And they pick up on almost every single thing you think they are oblivious to, including if you are an undercover mean-nasty-jerk. And, because you are the parent, with whom your child’s only loyalties lie, when they go to school and treat another kid in a way they believe is appropriate, they are representing you.
Things To Keep In Mind If The Idea Of Raising A Bully Embarrasses You
Is there a consideration for sending your child to school and having them be the reason some other child is full of fear and anxiety? How would you feel knowing that it’s possible your child goes to school every day and wrecks the day for other children. Is there any chance at all that you have perpetuated this behavior in your household?
For most American families, the PC attitude, if adhered to at all, is gone once they are through the front door of their home. Any racism, sexism, or any other ism that is expressed even if only by way of humor is exposed to and learned by the kids. The familiarity you have with friends and family allows you to be yourself, to behave in a way that you wouldn’t dare outside of your own home or at least any further than in the presence your most trusted family and confidants.
This is not something to be ashamed of or pretend we don’t do! We all have our dirty little secrets that we wouldn’t want to be spread around town. But, this is where the kids learn what’s ok. Your child is unlikely to understand or interpret the difference in dynamic inside your home vs. what is appropriate in public if you are all the time judging others in front of them. If you are two-faced, nice to someone’s face and critical behind their back, show insecurities through behaviors like jealousy, gossiping and saying mean things about those you are supposed to be the most loyal, you are teaching your kids this behavior. If you make racist/sexist jokes or express disdain for people who don’t act, look, talk, think and feel the way you do, your child is getting that message loud and clear.
And here’s where I get real about things. If you are any of those ways that I mentioned above, fine. Yes, really, fine. You are free to be you and people who pretend that they are perfect are the fakest of all. Generally, it’s the perfect-pretenders that are busy unloading their bully-brats onto the public and private school systems.
It’s important to be yourself, as a parent, but it’s also important to teach your child how to treat people. That’s right, you could be the most racist & sexist person on the planet, and pass that on to your children, but if you teach them how to treat people nobody would ever know. And that’s good! We don’t need to know! We need to get along in public. And we need to not be worried about our kids being picked on by asshole kids whose parents couldn’t be bothered to teach their kids how to treat people!
The Manifestation Of The American Bully
I can’t express this enough: As a parent, it is your responsibility to raise a child who respects and treats others with kindness. This starts with how you allow your child to treat you, his/her siblings and relatives. If you are a doormat for your child, you are authorizing that behavior.
Once a kid learns how to get what they want, whether it is attention, stuff, influence, whatever, they become masters at it. When behavior is in response to parents, it is a form of manipulation. When it is with peers, it is a form of dominance, an attempt to be in charge of the room, the people, the situation.
And even though there are many childhood friendships where this appears to be harmless, understand that when it comes to these relationships, someone is always wearing the pants. In other words, there are the leaders and the followers. While the leader isn’t always a bully, the leader is much more likely to be a bully to stay in the lead, or at least appear to be.
Is Your Child More Likely To Be A Bully? What Does Personality Type Have To Do With It?
Generally speaking, the average bully will be an extrovert type personality. Extroverts are naturally much more outgoing than introverts and therefore are less likely to be (perceived as) shy. While introverts may not, ultimately, consider themselves shy, they are often times seen as shy and therefore the weaker personality. The bully child will target those who seem less stable, weak and or what they perceive as shy.
The “shy kid” may simply be quiet, or an observer. He or she may not be extremely social by nature. The “shy kid” may seem quirky or weird and may not naturally care about perceptions others have of them such as what’s acceptable to wear, brand names, things like that. He or she may not care to impress others or figure out ways to make other kids like him/her. The “shy kid” may be of higher intelligence than other kids and be called a nerd or some other typical name. He or she may be viewed as an easy target because he or she is not likely to stand up for him or herself.
Extroverted kids are not exempt from being a bully target. Most extroverted kids who are targeted by bullies have parents whom, innocently, did not warn them that their weirdness and quirks and lack of caring about presentation would get them picked on. This is not the fault of the parent of the goofy kid! Kids should be allowed to, and encouraged to be themselves! But in a world where we have other parents sending assholes to school, the idea of socialization involves conforming to the standards of the kids who are calling the shots.
The Ultimate Price
Once through the standard socialization program of the public and private school systems, our children have been returned to us mere shells of their former zany, odd, eccentric, nutty, silly selves. And that’s something that’s lost forever. The personality that got them tormented will never come back, precious though it may have been to you.
If your kid is a bully, it is your fault and your responsibility to fix! This is a bad reflection of you as a person. And make no mistake, it is a reflection of you as a person. Unfortunately, if you are reading this, there’s a chance your kid is the one being bullied and not the bully because how many parents are Googling “my kid is a bully, what can I do about it?”
If your kid is being bullied, please talk to the only people who can take responsibility for it, as well as make a difference. It’s important that parents understand the mark they are leaving on society when allowing their child to, what can appear at the time, ruin the life of another child. Yes, this can seem over dramatic and as adults, we are capable of seeing the big picture. But our bullied kids don’t have our confidence or even the ability to understand that we decide what makes or breaks our day, as humans living our lives.
PARENTING is the only solution to a bully problem. If your child is a bully, please solve that problem before he or she can wreck my kid’s day.