[Funny coincidence -- at the same time I was writing It's Recipes! It's Buddhist Guideposts! It's Stories! No! It's... Just Me, I got an email from The Leadership Lady (not to be confused with the church lady), telling me about her new book which is, interestingly, about bullies. Stuff about bullies is everywhere now, isn't it? It's a hot topic (which only leads me to my firm stance about marketing being God, but I digress...) But I was downright taken by how Charisse Rudolph addresses the whole "bully" thing, so I invited her to write a guest post here at the Trailer Park. Contrary to what some might think, I'm not trying to be cryptic. I'm just lazy about categorizing myself. Read Charisse's take and let me know if any stories come to you from the connections.]
Understanding the Bully
By Charisse J. Rudolph
I believe that there is no good and bad; life just is. We all came to earth to play roles for each other – even with bullying. The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander are three roles, with each learning to deal with the consequences of their actions.
In today’s world, however – especially with the advent of cyberspace – too many things interfere with an individual’s ability to experience consequences.
Consider the bully.
The word “bully” is a label that sugarcoats a person being aggressive or abusive to another. A bully is a person who doesn’t have the skills to communicate, and he or she has something going on inside them that needs to be expressed. It may be anger or frustration or a feeling of being threatened and may have nothing to do with the situation at hand. But no matter what the cause, becoming a bully is a non-productive response that only makes a difficulty escalate. A vicious circle.
Most of what we read and talk about is being bullied. What do parents do when their child is the bully?
A common reaction is, “I don’t know why he’s like that. We didn’t raise him that way.”
As a parent, relative or caregiver, it’s up to you to find out what else is going on in this child’s life that she is uncomfortable with. She wasn’t born a bully; she has become this way in reaction to something. The child needs to feel love and support, and to feel that it’s safe to talk about whatever she is holding inside. If you ask your child why he’s acting a certain way and then simply get angry and pass judgment, you will not get the information you need to improve his behavior.
The only reason to ask “why?” is so you can support your child in becoming the person he or she wants to be.
Another thing you can do – and this is even harder – is take an objective look at your own style. What do you do when things go wrong in your life?
I want to share something I learned from Barbara DeAngelis a long time ago. Think of your family as water tanks all hooked together with a water pipe running from one to the other, each tank holding an adequate amount of water. When one of you has a challenge you’re not dealing with directly, the water in your tank begins to boil. Since the pressure that builds up in the tank has nowhere else to go, it bubbles into the next tank until it can’t hold any more; when that tank is full, the pressure flows into the next tank in line, and so on down the line until the pressure is released. Meanwhile, everyone is feeling the stress and strain, but doesn’t exactly know why or what to do.
What happens? Someone decides to go for a run, or overeat, or do yoga, or kick the dog, or yell at the person next to them, or break a plate, or take a bubble bath … or bully someone.
So what do you do when you can’t pay a bill, your boss cuts your hours or you have a fight with your spouse? Where might that pressure be going?
And remember, your child’s challenges – with fitting in at school, keeping up with homework, keeping friends, etc. – are just as challenging and important to him or her as your own are to you. So consider: Is he handling his challenges in the same way you are?
Charisse Rudolph is a nationally known speaker on how to learn strategies to succeed and be happy. Her new book is Words Hit Hard as a Fist, With 18 Tips on How to STOP being Bullied. Meet Charisse at www.theleadershiplady.com