Bullying Prevention- Self Esteem and How it Helps Stop Bullying
For over 12 years I was a police officer with King County Sheriff’s Department. During that time I saw a multitude of conflicts that had extremely violent endings. What I came to notice was that poor self esteem was at the core of most every harmful conflict. This holds true in the extreme with physical assaults, yelling matches that make no sense, and yes, bullying.
You see, the topic at hand really isn’t the issue. It’s not about someone having “four eyes” or “looking funny” or “that was a lame move”. What’s really happening is the bully is trying to make the bullied feel bad about themselves. Once the child being bullied believes this, the bullying can continue, and continue, and continue.
Another way to look at school bullying is that the child being bullied being invited, and sometimes forced, to believe the negative things the bully is saying. If the child being bullied doesn’t believe the negative, the road to solution is much easier. This is one of the reasons why the victims of bullying often don’t report it. A youngster with high self esteem may tell the bully to stop, not let the event bug them or tell an adult.
Perfect examples are the recent bully suicides, or “bullycides.” This is where the bullied believes what the bully says and loses a sense of who they are – to the extreme.
Truly, someone being a bully is merely inviting the child to believe something negative. Help your child to not go there. Support them to problem solve from a place of high self esteem, and the outcome will be much better.
Helping the Child that’s been Bullied:
Ask them to tell you what they think being bullied means about them, and really look at it. Do they think that because they are being called names it means:
I don’t belong I’m not good enough I don’t matter I’m not important I’m not capable
I’m not worthy I’m un-loveable I’m bad I’m stupid
It may be one, two or more of these. Ask them which one has the most energy or feels “biggest”. Now, ask them if it’s really true they aren’t “good enough”, that they “don’t matter.” Help them get to the place where they realize the opposite of the negative belief: the truth of who they are!
Once you’ve found the phrase, you’ve discovered what the real conversation is. The bully is trying to make the child feel like they “don’t belong.” If the child believes it, they go into a funk, and the ensuing difficulty is about believing they “don’t belong.”
Help the child being bullied to feel better about who they are. When the bully picks on them again, they now have something they can tell themselves, “I belong.” (Make sure the child thinks this in their mind and doesn’t say it aloud.)
Do some “role plays” with them to help the bullied child get a new kinesthetic experience and increase their confidence and esteem. Say “Action” and play the bully. Say things similar to what the bully has been saying. You want to create a practice environment that’s safe – so they can experience success in a safe way. Say “Cut” and coach the child to make the new choice, thinking positive beliefs to themselves, walking away and going to an adult if needed.
Do this several times until the child gets a new, positive experience with the situation. Follow up with them and see how things went with the next interaction they have. I’ve done this with children, and the very next experience with the bully is much less intense. They feel better about themselves and ask an adult for help.
If you know a child having challenges, I’m doing a public “Positive Choices with Bullies” workshop in Shoreline on October 2nd, 2010. Call 206-801-2600 to register or call me at 206-650-5364.
If you’d like to advocate for children, I provide successful bullying prevention assemblies in schools for all ages. Please recommend me to the principal and / or give me a call.
Peace Enforcement LLC