My approach to stopping bullying is very humanistic. It is science based and compassionate. A lot of people don’t get that, but it does work.
First – the science. Bullies are humans. Did you know that? Yeah. they are. And we humans behave badly towards one another for a wide variety of reasons. Most of these reasons have nothing to do with the victim and everything to do with the kid behaving badly.
Understanding why a child behaves badly doesn’t excuse the bad behavior. It just means, we strive to understand the child as a full human with dignity instead of labeling them as bad or as a bully so that we can help them stop.
This contrasts with a punitive approach – which is to punish the bully into stopping.
Science tells us that science doesn’t work well. In fact, it usually makes the unwanted behavior worse and it does nothing to fix the underlying problem the child is having.
Which is why – feeling sorry for someone who is behaving badly is a really good idea. Again, this does not excuse the behavior or make it ok. It just means how we approach the person to help them stop is going to be about helping them to stop instead of hurting them.
For those of you who have read the Harry Potter books, or seen the movies, you will know that at first Kreacher was horrible to Harry. But as they started treating Kreacher better, he started treating them better. The bad vibes and behavior was a 2 way street.
My mother always said, it takes 2 people to fight. So – when dealing with someone behaving badly towards you – check your own behavior. If you stop treating someone as a threat – they often stop treating you as a threat. Sometimes. This only works if their behavior is in response to something you have done.
With bullies though, often the target has done nothing to cause a bully to target them so changing their behavior won’t magically make a bully treat them nicer. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nice. It just means, if you try this and it doesn’t work, you will need to try something else. I always like to try being nice as a way to rule out my own behavior as a cause.
Once I have ruled out my own behavior and started viewing the other person a full person with dignity and compassion, I can then start altering my behavior to help them – be less horrible to me. And I do this through the use of selective rewards and reinforcements. And yes, as I write this – it seems horribly manipulative. This is why it is critical to do this from a place of compassion and dignity and to feel sorry for the person behaving badly and trying to help them learn to behave better.
If you do this to hurt them, you are adding to the hurt of the world. Don’t do that. Use your powers for good – even if other people don’t.
To learn more – join the website, view the videos, get the book and learn how to get bullies to stop using science and compassion.