Bullying can be devastating to a child’s or teen’s self-esteem. And the damage can last a lifetime. It can have a negative effect on their progress even into adulthood.
No, it isn’t your fault. You and your child are innocent in this, but you still must do some damage control.
The parents of bullies should teach them kindness and empathy, yes. However, the targets’ parents also have work to do- they must teach their children confidence. Neither side gets out of this without some degree of responsibility.
I realize that it isn’t fair that most of the confidence-building work must be done on the target’s end. But nothing in life is fair and we can’t change that reality. We, as parents of bullied children still have to take action. We still must do our part to ensure our children’s confidence stays in tact so that they’ll be able to flourish. Therefore, it’s up to us to tip the mental health balance more in the target’s favor.
Teaching targets confidence involves teaching them never to look to bullies, or anyone for that matter, for confirmation of their worth and validity. Most of all, it means creating experiences for them that naturally balance out all the negative experiences they face at school. To neglect this work would be devastating for our children!
How do you do that?
By giving them opportunities to make friends outside their toxic school environment.
For instance, they can join a martial arts class, a scout troop, or go to summer camp, to name a few. There are so many options available for targets to forge lasting friendships. And you will be amazed at just how it will help build their confidence and self-esteem.
Yes, kind words, encouragement, and verbally re-enforcing positivity to your child is important. But giving them the positive experiences that back up your well-meaning words will work doubly well because it will serve as confirmation that they really are good and normal kids and give the self-esteem that extra boost.
So, give your bullied child fun, exciting, and positive experiences that they can look back on with confidence and assurance! They will thank you for it later! I guarantee it!
Saying “no” can be difficult and at times, even downright scary. Like when bullies are trying to force you to do something you don’t want to do. You know the feeling when they threaten either physical harm or worse social exclusion if you don’t do what they want you to do. I know the feeling because I’ve been there.
Nobody wants to get hurt. The natural human response is to submit and make the pain, torment, or the threat of, stop. In your mind, you’re thinking, “Alright, alright! I’ll do it if you’ll go away and leave me alone!” I get that because it’s what I did. I submitted to my bullies many times, too many times. I fell for the false promises that they would let me be and stop hurting me. But-
Saying yes to them meant saying no to myself.
They never made good on those promises. The harassment didn’t stop. If anything, it only got worse! Anytime I did say no, I got threatened and yes, even physically attacked.
Saying no to a bully is never an easy option. Bullies don’t take no for an answer, least of all from their targets! However, not only is it necessary, but it feels darn good sometimes!
If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve said the word “no” a lot more than I did. I wouldn’t have cared about the retaliation I might have faced. Unless one of my bullies had done something drastic, like pulled a gun, I’d have stood firm.
In no way would I advice anyone to risk their life. If someone pulls a gun on me, I will do what I must do to stay alive! I’ll do what he wants and tell him what he wants to hear. I’ll dance a jig wearing fluorescent orange and white polka-dotted bell bottoms if it keeps me from dying!
I’ll grant you, saying no is risky.
But if they only threaten me with the business end of their fists, I know I’m only going to come out of it with a shiner and a fat lip. In a situation like that, it’s much safer to say no. Those wounds will heal. But the psychological injury of wishing I hadn’t let myself down will last for years.
However, if you do choose physical safety first, I want you to know that you’re not wrong for that. In no way will I ever think less of you if you submit to your bullies’ demands. As I mentioned earlier, a natural reaction is to obey to keep from being harmed.
Today, I say that little two-letter word a lot more and will continue to say it in the future. It doesn’t matter what people say, how they feel about it or what they do. I would much rather get the crap kicked out of me and still feel good about myself for taking a stand. Today, I’d rather take a beating than to cave under pressure. I’m funny about letting myself down by doing something I didn’t want to do. To me, that’s worse than getting my butt kicked! But that’s just me.
My physical wounds healed. But knowing I let someone else force me to do something I neither wanted to nor agreed to, left a psychological injury that took a long time to recover from. I ended up asking myself, “Now, why didn’t I tell those creeps to take a flying leap off the highest cliff head first?” That feeling of powerlessness was worse than the physical pain I would have suffered.
So, permit yourself to say that tiny little word because it can be so empowering! You may indeed get your tail kicked, but at least you’ll feel good knowing you got hurt because you stood for something! Those psychological benefits will significantly outweigh the embarrassment of any beat down! Besides, you forced a bully to do something foolish and which will likely get him in trouble with an adult or the law! So, I ask you! Who’s the real winner here?
I don’t want to imagine where I’d be if I never healed from the bullying I suffered in the past. It’s not something l like to think about and it isn’t something I enjoy bringing up. However, I feel I’d be doing you a huge disservice if I didn’t.
If you were bullied at some point and you did the inner work and healed from it, you are one of the lucky blessed and I extend my congratulations to you.
But sadly, many survivors of bullying never heal, and I can only feel terrible for them. Because these people go their entire lives, dragging so much pinned up anger, resentment, sadness, and depression with them. Those emotions tend to fester into powerlessness- they simply don’t know what to do to make their lives better and achieve happiness and prosperity. Others only let it make them unfeeling and uncaring- and this second set of survivors often find prosperity and success, but they don’t find happiness.
So, what do these unhealed survivors do end up doing and where do they end up?
1. They join gangs. Many times, when a person has been bullied and hasn’t healed, they often join to get the sense of friendship, unity, belonging, and empowerment they were for so long denied. In a gang, these survivors are ensured protection from further bullying. And they use fear to get that protection.
2. They join extremist groups. Because these survivors were bullied terribly and never healed from it, they often feel a sense of unfairness and injustice. So, they take up a cause. Don’t get me wrong. Taking up a cause can be a wonderful and constructive way to deal with pain and trauma. But extremist groups are never good because they have a tendency for violence. In joining extremist groups, survivors also get the friendship, support, alliance, and power they couldn’t get before.
Interior of cell block in abandoned State Correctional Institution, or jail., common room with jail cel
3. They end up in jail. Remember a few posts back, when I mentioned that anyone who is consistently told they’re bad, crazy, or evil will begin to exhibit behavior which matches the labels? When people are made to feel that they’re horrible people, they may go out and commit crimes either to get attention or because they feel they’re owed for all the bullying they suffered.
4. They become workaholics. In the past, they were bullied and made to feel powerless. So, they work like dogs to make lots of money because they feel that having lots of money gives them enormous power. We all need to work, but to work all the time and not have time to rest or for play isn’t healthy.
5. They get into drug abuse. Many become drug addicts and alcoholics to quell the PTSD, trauma, sadness, and depression that is brought about by bullying. Instead of seeking the right kind of help, they self-medicate.
Understand that healing from bullying is a must if you want to go on to a happy and peaceful life and that sometimes, healing means seeking therapy. Healing and getting closure take a lot of work. But I promise that if you get the help and put in the inner work needed, it’ll be so worth it in the end!
If you don’t love yourself, who will? And how can you love anyone else if you don’t first love yourself?
These are valid questions.
When someone doesn’t love themselves, we can tell. We can see it in their demeanor, their face, and their posture. We can hear it in their tone of voice and the way they talk. Why do you think these people attract users and abusers to them? Why do you think they end up with people who mistreat and control them?
Here’s what happens when you don’t love yourself:
1. You’re never able to properly love anyone else. You will be codependent- always searching to get love from another source- a source outside yourself, instead of letting love come from within. When you finally find someone who does love you, you won’t love them the way they need to be loved. Instead, you’ll only smother your partner to death because you’ll always have to be right there under the person’s nose.
Also, you’ll be suspicious of others, wondering if your partner’s going to leave you or wondering if they’re cheating. You’ll wonder if your friends really like you or if they’re only pretending to. In essence, you’ll end up making a new partner or friend pay for something someone else did in the past and it’s not fair. Being in constant worry and suspicion is no way to live!
2. You rely too much on others to make you feel loved and wanted and be afraid of being alone. You will always believe that to be happy, you must always be one half of a couple. But understand that if you aren’t happy single, you won’t be happy in a relationship either.
3. You move too quickly into a relationship. Once you are in a relationship, you’ll love your partner more than they deserve and before they have time to earn that love. Also, you’re likely to scare the other person away. Realize that love needs time to grow.
4. You give away your power. When you give away your power, you automatically put yourself at the mercy of someone else. And believe me, they take full advantage. You put your own needs on the back burner and always put your partner before yourself, doing all the giving in the relationship in exchange for your partner’s love. You’ll even do things you really don’t want to do just to satisfy the other person.
You’ll stop making your own decisions and allow someone else to choose for you. You’ll also agree to every single thing he or she says. When you do this, you leave nothing for yourself. After a while, the feeling of unfairness will slowly build. Soon, you will become resentful after so long of not getting anything in return.
Never give another person that kind of power! You must have your own mind and be your own person.
5. Because you can never control how another person acts nor how they feel about you. What happens when your partner gets tired of you and decides he/she no longer wants to be with you? It will devastate you. It’s only natural that the end of any friendship or relationship is painful. But it should never be crushing. It should never feel like the end of the world.
6. You’ll be on an endless search for love and friendship. You’ll spend your whole life searching for love. That in itself is not only off-putting to others, but it’s also exhausting to you. You’ll waste your time, hopping from relationship to relationship.
When one partner gets bored with you and leaves for someone who challenges them, you’ll be on another search for someone else to take their place. And this cycle will only continue to repeat itself. Before long, you’ll have a string of broken relationships behind you. Not good!
7. You’ll settle for just anyone. And you’ll get even less than what you settled for. No one should settle. Ever! If the person isn’t the person you want or is less than what you thought they were, you’ll be much happier if you move on to something you really want. Always be selective of the friends and partners you choose and of the company you keep.
8. You attract takers instead of givers. Predatory people have a keen eye for those who are desperate to be loved and accepted. And they’ll sniff you from a mile away. These people will be more than happy to befriend or date you just to get what they want from you. Once they’ve used you long enough and bleed you dry of resources and dignity, they’ll only drop you and move on to the next poor sucker. When you stop being afraid of aloneness, you magically begin to repel predators and attract better people.
9. You’ll repel the people who either do or would otherwise love and accept you. If by chance you happen to find someone who truly loves you, you won’t be able to relax and enjoy it. You’ll be so scared of losing the person that you’ll be too clingy and likely run them off because of your incessant neediness.
Understand that when you do this, you automatically make them responsible for your happiness and it’s not fair. Being held responsible for another person’s happiness is a heavy load for anyone to carry! You’ll only zap the other person’s energy as you expect them to fill a void that can’t be filled by anyone but you and God. Realize that only you are responsible for your happiness. No one else.
10. You stay in toxic relationships and put up with shabby treatment just to keep from being alone. You’ll likely end of with an abuser who’ll physically or mentally abuse you. Love and friendship shouldn’t be painful.
You may also end up with someone too lazy to work and who expects you to keep their worthless ass up. No one has to work that hard to keep any relationship and if you do, it’s a sign that you need to show somebody out the door- and fast.
The last thing you want is to be tied down to some broke chump who treats you like crap or won’t get off their dead ass and work to help pay the bills. I’ve seen this happen to so many people I’ve known in the past.
Being alone is a part of loving yourself. It’s not the worse thing that can ever happen to you. It’s very healthy sometimes because you get to know yourself during times of solitude.
But when you’re afraid of being by yourself, you’re likely to give others control of your life and put yourself at their mercy! STOP THAT! Never cheat yourself by settling for anything less than what you deserve!
Never put your happiness in someone else’s hands! Ever!
This is great news for targets and here’s why. Once you figure out the pattern, you become harder for bullies to bully. You are also able to better predict, with amazing accuracy, what your bullies will do next and after almost every given scenario.
For example, you instinctively know that once you report bullying, the bullying will escalate. You’ll also be able to recognize when the bullying becomes a pattern and you’ll begin saving any incendiary emails, messages, texts. You’ll begin taking screenshots of bullies’ comments on social media and you’ll begin documenting incidences in detail.
You will quietly gather your evidence, being sure to save everything, making multiple copies on multiple flash drives and keeping each of them in different locations.
Depending on the laws in your area, you will begin wearing discrete body cameras or keeping a digital audio recorder to get the bullying incidents recorded and making copies of those recordings as well.
You’ll also be able to stay one step ahead of your bullies by taking pictures of all completed work and making copies of important papers and receipts to keep in your CYA file at work or at school. You can make copies of your homework in case your bullies steal it to sabotage you and get you in trouble with school staff.
Again, bullying behavior and tactics are patterned and predictable. And the reason they are so is because they are both universal and timeless.
The behavior and tactics they use is nothing new. It’s the same worn-out crap that has been used since the beginning of time and the reason we haven’t wised up to it is because we’ve ignored it.
And when you ignore or overlook something, you don’t pay attention to it, and you aren’t observant of it. To see the pattern of bullying, you must be observant of it without paying attention to the bullies themselves.
Also, we haven’t considered bullying an important enough issue, and the reason we haven’t taken it seriously is because, for centuries, we considered a normal part of human behavior and were under the assumption that it happened to everybody, or it built character.
Yes, bullying is a dark part of human behavior, but so is murder, yet we don’t overlook it.
The best way to battle bullying is to teach targets confidence and how to recognize when normal teasing is beginning to morph into bullying. We must also teach them how to protect themselves from bullying and how to quietly expose bullying when it happens to them.
Females are hardwired to nurture, maintain, and enjoy relationships, whether they be friendships, family, or romantic relationships. With teenagers, although family relationships are still meaningful, it is mostly about having close relationships with friends and romantic relationships.
Therefore, if a young girl is not getting those wants and needs met through her peers at school or family at home, she may try a different route to meet her needs.
Sadly, some girls, particularly those who are targets of bullies, think that having a dating partner makes up for the lack of friends and positive relationships at school. I say this because, unfortunately, I was one of those girls with the same mindset. I leaned on dating and romance for comfort.
At the time, being in a romantic relationship felt like such a welcome change, like a soft pillow to land on during a fall. It seemed to buffer my self-esteem from the attacks and take the sting out of the torment I endured.
Having dating partners and suitors gave me a much-needed rebuttal to the daily degradation and humiliation brought on by classmates and a few sadistic teachers. It assured me that I was a great person and worthy of being loved. Male attention was a testament to my beauty and confirmation of my value as a young woman.
I looked to these guys to rescue me. They were my refuge from a cold, cruel world that hated me. Looking back now, I realize how needy I was back then. Around young guys who didn’t know me from school, I acted like a totally different person. I smiled, batted my eyelashes, and flirted my behind off to get their attention.
During school, because I had no real friends, I turned to grown men of late teens and early twenties to get the acceptance I wasn’t getting at school, from people my age. Although I was a gorgeous girl to look upon, bullies and their followers had destroyed my once-good name and with it, any prospects for dating and love among peers my age.
But by dating guys who were already out of high school, I was able to get around my trashed reputation and have opportunities for romance. These college-aged men had never met me, nor were they aware of the falsehoods and labels tied to my name.
I’m ashamed to say that, back then, I felt that my good looks and feminine wiles were the only things I had going for me, and often used them to get what I wanted. I thought I had to use trickery and charm to attain what most others seemed to come by easily and effortlessly. And thirty years ago, underage dating was more accepted than it is today.
I want you to understand that when a person is beaten down for so long, they grow afraid to ask for or pursue their wants and needs the right way. As a result, manipulation and deceit become a way of survival. Realize that this is a person who doesn’t need judgment; they get enough of that already. What they need is help.
For bullied victims, partners are a proverbial band-aid to their feelings of hurt and inadequacy that come with the onslaught of bullies. Sexual partners and activity are a means to feel loved, wanted, sexy, and beautiful. And it works, if only temporarily.
However, this is dangerous because it can easily lead to co-dependency. Relying on a dating partner for confirmation of worth is never good because the person eventually comes to believe that if he/she is not half of a couple, they are nothing and this kind of thinking is wrong.
This mindset only sprouts desperation, and there is no dignity in being desperate for a partner. No one should ever see a romantic relationship as the end all be all. They should never look outside of themselves for happiness. Men and women come and go, and if the person continues to depend solely on them for their fulfillment, they’ll be in for a huge disappointment.
When someone looks solely to a partner to validate them, it’s a sign that the person doesn’t know their worth as a young lady or young man. Potential dates can sense this, and are either repelled or see them as someone they can use and degrade.
The person risks attracting a predatory partner of low integrity, one who will hang around as long as it takes to get what they want before dumping them and leaving them devastated. Also, people of quality and integrity do not want a partner they have to fix or rescue, and if they sniff out the slightest bit of neediness, they will disappear, and fast!
If you are a bullied girl or boy, I can’t stress enough how important it is to fall in love with yourself and with life before you fall in love with anyone else. Love should come from within and never from the outside. A relationship doesn’t complete you, and just because a person has sex with you doesn’t mean that they love you.
You are just as beautiful and whole without a partner as you are with one. Just because you’re dateless doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Single doesn’t mean defective.
In the meantime, do plenty of deep soul searching and make positive affirmations daily. Count all your good qualities, talents, and gifts. Continuously remind yourself that you have value, and soon, you’ll start to believe it with your whole heart.
Be patient. Know that the right person will come into your life when you least expect it, and you aren’t looking for them. And when they do, they’ll be well worth the wait.
We all have days when we feel down in the dumps. Fortunately, there are things you can do to remedy your situation and chase those doldrums away!
1. Listen to good music – There’s nothing that cures your ills like boogying down to some good dance music or rocking out to the sounds of your favorite rock bands. There something about music that makes us come alive and want to get up and move! So, put on some good tunes and shake your butt!
2. Go for a walk – Going on a good nature walk on a beautiful Spring day lifts the spirits and feels so good. Walking is also one of the best exercises there is, so, there are physical health benefits to it as well.
3. Indulge in your hobbies – working on and completing your hobbies brings out your creative side and gives you the feeling of success and accomplishment. It gives you pride in yourself and in your abilities. And who doesn’t love that?
4. Surround yourself with your favorite people – Being around the people you love, who love you, and who lift you up feeds your soul like nothing else. When you get together with your loved ones, you know you belong, and you get that much needed sense of belonging and togetherness.
5. Fix yourself up – As the old saying goes, when you look good, you feel good. When you take pride in your appearance, it shows. Looking your best has a way of building your confidence and your self-esteem. And it also has a way of spreading to others.
The good thing as that you have options. Do any one of these things and watch your mood skyrocket in just minutes. You’ll be glad you did. I promise!
Imagine this scenario: A young boy or girl is a target of bullying at their school. Every morning, they arrive at school and are greeted by a barrage of name-calling, taunts, cruel jokes, ridicule, and many times, physical assaults and beatings.
The poor target is trapped in a school they aren’t safe in, a learning environment that’s dangerous to them. The target does their best to stay strong, to hide the tears which beg to poor forth like a raging torrent. The child knows that if she ever shows the hurt, the bullies will only bask in it. They’ll have her where they want her, and the bullies will then move in for the death blow.
So, the target continues to hide his emotions. He continues to pretend that everything is okay and that the bullying he suffers isn’t such a big deal. But it is and it’s tearing him up inside. As time goes on, the bullies escalate their attacks because they see the target’s stoicism and calmness as a challenge. Therefore, the cruel attacks become a game to the bullies. The goal is to break the target and they want to see what it’s going to take to achieve that goal.
Then, one day, it happens. The target has a breakdown. After will, no one can bury all that pain forever. She is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a month and gets the help she needs. She is in a safe environment. Therefore, she is allowed to speak out about the bullying she has suffered. Caring staff and fellow patients give her the support she has long needed, and she begins to heal and get better.
After some time in hospital, he is finally released and is free to go home and his parents take him back to school. The very school where his bullies run amuck. And once he’s back, the bullies have a go at him once again.
The target continues to go to school. The bullies only pick up where they left off and continue to harass her. The bullies wonder where she’s been, and they have a pretty good guess at it. So, they bully her harder because, although they don’t know for sure, they only guess where she’s been, and they use the possibility that she was in a hospital as a weapon against her.
Now, not only is the target’s reputation ruined because of the bullying, but, even worse, she has the stigma of mental health hanging over her. Slowly, over time, the bullies and the toxic learning environment manage to undo all the progress the target made in the hospital. Once again, they push her to her breaking point, and she lands back in the hospital.
And thus, becomes a vicious cycle- the target is bullied to the breaking point, he is admitted to the hospital where he can heal. Then, once he heals and he is released from the hospital…and is forced back into the same toxic environment and with the same poisonous people that made him sick to begin with!
I know firsthand of this reality because it happened to me, over and over again, until I finally changed schools.
When I had my first child, I vowed not to make the same mistakes my parents made. If ever my children were bullied and it began to become ritualistic, I would immediately take them out of the school they were bullied in and transfer them to a safer school, no matter what sacrifices I had to make to do it.
Thankfully, when my eldest son began to be bullied in middle school, his father, stepmother, and I got together and made a plan to have him transferred before the bullying had a chance to escalate to a dangerous level. And it worked!
His grades skyrocketed at his new school and when he graduated, he did so with scholarships! We were so proud!
Stigma word cloud concept on grey background
Therefore, a school transfer is always best when a child is bullied by classmates and that bullying becomes a pattern. Once it becomes a habit and the other kids grow comfortable with bullying a target, it will only get worse. And if the target goes to a hospital and gets help, then released back into the same environment that made them sick, they will end up back in the hospital…again, again, and again, until he leaves the school, he’s bullied in.
It may take some sacrifice to transfer your child to a new school and it may be more expensive. However, it’s a small price to pay compared to a stack of psychiatric bills, or worse, funeral and burial costs.
Isn’t it funny how quickly bullies can become board-certified shrinks? And they can do it overnight, without reading as much as a single word out of a psychology textbook.
As we all know, bullies are legends (or Doctors of Psychology) in their own minds and they only make themselves look stupid when they “diagnose” anyone they cannot manipulate.
This little phenomenon is called “pop-psych,” and, in all it’s entitlement (and embarrassment), empowers bullies to conduct, “remote analyses” while holding little to zero education in the field of Psychology.
If you’re a target of bullying who’s been dx-ed by bullies, you can counter these accusations of insanity by reading a basic psychology 101 textbook, then asking your bullies questions that challenge the narrative.
Jack: “Don’t hang out with Jill. She’s crazy.”
Kelly: “Crazy? That sounds like a pretty serious accusation. Crazy in what way?”
Jack: “Uh…I don’t know. Like schizo or something.”
Kelly: There are five categories of schizophrenia, which one do you think she falls into?”
Kelly: “I’ll have you know that paranoia is a common trait in many psychopathologies.”
Jack: “Uhhhh. I dunno. She’s talking about people talking about her and thinking they’re after her or something- that’s crazy.”
Kelly: “Jack, have you ever considered that possibility that Jill may be a target of bullying?”
Jack: “Oh, no! We’re not allowed to talk about that.”
Kelly: (Rolls her eyes and scoffs at Jack, then walks away.)
When bullies use pop-psychology, they do it out of ignorance and entitlement. They use mental health and mental illness as a weapon and end up making themselves look stupid.
Bullies don’t only want to hurt you or destroy your good name. More than anything, they want to get into your head and alter your mind.
The worst thing about bullying isn’t the physical assaults. Cuts and bruises heal easily. It isn’t even the name-calling, the smears, the rumors, or the marginalization. It’s what it can do to the mind if we aren’t careful.
The worst thing that can happen to a target of bullying is when he begins to believe what he’s being told. The worst thing that happens is when she begins to see herself through the eyes of the very people who hate her and who want nothing more from her than her complete destruction and ruination.
Anytime a target begins to believe he is nothing, he does himself a huge disservice because he discards his own definition of him and replaces it with that of his bullies. He values the bullies’ opinions over his own.
I cannot stress enough the importance of loving yourself even when it looks as if others don’t love you back. You must continue to believe in yourself even when it seems that no one else does. You must also continue to stand your ground even when people want to bury you in it.’
That’s how you keep your confidence and self-esteem from tanking. It’s how you keep even a little bit of your dignity and it’s how you protect your spirit from being broken.
Yes, your confidence may take many blows, but it doesn’t have to die. Your self-esteem may be pummeled, but you can keep it for hitting rock bottom. Bullies may break off pieces of your dignity, but you don’t have to give them the piece of it you still hold for yourself. Your spirit may take a hard beating, but only you decide whether to let them break it.
In short, you don’t have to surrender everything that matters to your bullies.’
You have more power than you know. Your thoughts are the freest commodity you have. No matter what they take from you, they can never take your mind if you don’t let them.
“Power is not what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” ~ Saul D. Alinsky (Rules for Radicals)
Think about that quote for a moment and realize that it’s what all bullies live by.