What is bullying?
Bullying is defined as superior strength or influence used to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.
But let’s go a little further. Bullying is an attempt by one or more individuals to alienate, humiliate, or intimidate another person or persons. Originally bullying was considered behavior used to get another person to do what the bully or bullies wanted them to do, however in today’s world it is often a form of targeted abuse through verbal and/or physical attacks, not necessarily intended to make the victim comply with their wishes, but to make the bully feel a sense of power and control.
Why do bullies, bully?
As we mentioned earlier, bullies often bully in order to get the victim to comply with some sort of demand. But now we also see bullying behavior as an attempt by the bully to alienate and target another in order to ostracize them from their peers. This makes the bully feel a strong sense of power and control, giving them a false sense of popularity amongst their peers.
Who are the bullies?
Bullies are individuals with low self-esteem, often having been the victim of bullying or abuse themselves. By intimidating others they are able to mask their insecurities and inadequacies and feel a sense of competency. Controlling others may also provide a bully relief from feelings of powerlessness. A bully is aggressive and seeks control over others because they have no control over themselves or their surroundings.
Who are the bullied?
Bullies usually target others with low self-esteem for they are the easiest to gain power and control over. A bully gets a false sense of superiority over their victims to mask their true feelings of inferiority.
How can self-confidence combat bullying?
Helping to build self-confidence is not only an extremely effective tool to help prevent someone from being bullied, but it is also helps prevent someone from becoming a bully. If there are no bullies—there are no bullied.
We mentioned earlier that bullies and the bullied both suffer from low self-esteem. Therefore, it seems like a simple solution to just implant self-confidence and “bam!” problem solved. I wish that were true. Self-confidence has to be developed over a period of time, often years. The good news is, there is no time like the present and it’s never too late to build and obtain self-confidence.
How can we teach and learn how to be self-confident?
Building self-confidence will take time so don’t get impatient if you don’t see or feel the results of the following practices right away. Take comfort in knowing that each day you become stronger and that this is a journey. Embrace what you learn along the way.
Instilling self-confidence in children:
1. When a child makes a mistake, do not chastise them for it. Ask them if there was a better choice they could have made and discuss why that choice is better.
2. Do not point out your child’s failures, but often refer to their successes. If they view an event as a failure (e.g. failing a test or not making a team), point out something they were successful at and let them know the most powerful way to learn is through mistakes.
3. Smile at them. A lot.
4. Teach them to acknowledge their mistakes (don’t blame) and learn from them (see #1).
5. Get them involved with helping others. This single act will build self-confidence very quickly and it is also teaching them compassion and team work.
6. Do not expect them to be perfect and discourage them from expecting themselves or others to be perfect.
7. Daydreaming is a form of visualization. Encourage positive daydreaming, do not discourage it. Unless of course they’re in the middle of a test.
8. Teach them appreciation by being appreciative.
9. Leave little sticky notes or wall hangings around the house or classroom like “You are a beautiful person”, “You’re the best!” “You are smart!”. Sounds silly, but it’s effective.
These are just a few ways you can begin to help build self-confidence in a child. For adults, follow the same principles above and also read “Building Confidence Beyond Belief”.
Self-confidence is the only truly effective way to prevent bullying. There are many other methods that address bullying, but most of them are dealing with the effect, not the cause.
Let's get to the root of the problem and start working from there: teaching our children to be confident within themselves and the world they live in. Not an easy fix, but not an impossible one. Take it one confident step at a time.
Article by Danielle Pierre
Article by Danielle Pierre