Courage, Compassion and Consistency are required to stop bullying.
Getting a bully to stop isn’t that hard, but it sure is scary. We humans like to avoid conflict and we don’t like to be around mean people. Bullies create conflict, emotional distress and more. Being bullied is traumatic.
So how can we combat this? It turns out that finding the courage to confront a bully is the hardest part. After that, if you are compassionate and consistent, the bully will eventually leave you alone.
While these 3 C’s seem like discreet steps in a process, they are actually interrelated. Let me explain.
In order to confront a bully, you have to be courageous enough to risk conflict. You have to be courageous enough to call a bully’s bluff, and they might not be bluffing. This isn’t’ easy for anyone to do and it can be especially difficult for children who are often very literally and don’t have the life experience to know that things will turn out ok.
In order to help your child find the courage you have to en-courage them. It can take a child time to muster up the courage, but the more you encourage them, they more they will finally find the courage to try.
The other thing that helps is having a plan. What can your child do to stand up for themselves? What should they do if the bully escalates their bad behavior? Who can or should your child report things to. Having a plan helps a child understand what it is they have to do to get the bullying to stop.
The other thing that helps is …
When you encourage your child to feel compassion for the bully, you can help them understand that standing up to the bully and getting them to stop is something that will help the bully learn how to behave better. That’s good not only for your child, but for their bully as well. Most kids are very altruistic and will rise the clarion call of moral responsibility to find the courage to do what is right. Reporting a bully who is behaving badly get the bully the help they need. And that’s a nice thing for your child to do for them.
The other thing compassion helps your child with is that it helps them to be less afraid of the bully. Bullies can grow into the size of a giant ogre in a child’s imagination. By humanizing the bully, you bring them back down to child size. This isn’t a monster. It’s a kid just like them. They can handle this.
Compassion also helps your child respond to the bully in a way that is calm and rational and not scared. Bullies like to get a rise out of their victims and being compassionate will not only make your child less attractive to the bully, it will make the bullies afraid of them. Because there is only one thing worse to a bully than being ignored and that is being pitied.
Finally, in order to get a bully to stop you have to be …
What gets a bully to stop isn’t just having the courage to confront them. It isn’t finding compassion for them. It is the consistency with which you report them and respond to them. If sometimes your child gets angry, sometimes they are afraid and sometimes they are compassionate, that creates what is known as a variable reinforcement schedule for the bully. To translate this little bit of technical operant conditioning language into plain English, what this means is that by responding inconsistently to a bully, they actually make the bully want to bully them more. If they are consistent, they will make the bully want to bully them less.
The other thing consistency does is it makes being compassionate and courageous into a habit. Which means, the more your child practices confronting a bully with courage and compassion, the more courageous and compassionate your child will become. And that’s a good thing because it will help them to grow into a morally responsible adult you can be proud of.
Has your child experienced this? What did they say it felt like to confront a bully?