Nearly all of us have dealt with bullies somewhere along the way. We are certainly seeing the impact of bullies on our clients at Care to Change. Maybe it was that kid that terrorized the playground in fifth grade. Could have been that boss that made you dread coming to work every morning. It might have been a neighbor who was anything but neighborly. Or it could be that angry guy who was riding your back bumper when you were bringing the kids to school this morning. Bullies can be found almost anywhere no days.
How would you feel if you discovered that one of your children was one of those bullies? You might be angry, you might be ashamed, but most of all, you’d probably be confused. How did it happen? How did that cute little baby turn into someone who tries to dominate and intimidate others?
Parents of bullies might not like to hear this, but they’ll find the answer in their mirror. You can study a thousand bullies, and you’ll see all sorts of factors, but one they’ll all share is what they’ve learned from the relational patterns they’ve seen in their homes. As children, we learn our behaviors from observing the adults in our lives, and if Mom and Dad disrespect or bully each other, we’ll assume that’s normal interaction.
Bullying among parents doesn’t necessarily involve physical abuse. For example, some couples think sarcastic jabs are humorous, but they’re not. Sarcasm erodes relationships. Trust us. It’s a type of bullying and the impact is long lasting. Yelling at each other is bullying. Slamming doors and breaking things? That’s bullying, too. Threatening to walk out the door? Same thing.
Bullies don’t know how to have their needs met in constructive ways because their parents haven’t demonstrated those ways for them. They can’t express their needs in words, so they lash out at others. Bullying is often a self-protective measure. If I’m afraid that you’re going to hurt me, I’ll make sure I hurt you first, so you become afraid of me. Or, if I can’t control my environment, I’ll control everyone around me in whatever way I need to.
If you want to raise bullies, don’t teach your children to communicate. Don’t teach them how to serve their needs in safe, positive ways. Show them how to avoid problems instead of solving them. Expose them to sarcasm, arguing, fighting, and violence in the home. Encourage them to play video games where the solution to every problem is violence, and fighting to win is seen as victorious. As we were told in Ezekiel 4, “What rules the heart will shape and direct the behavior.” And if you’re afraid that your child is becoming a bully, give us a call, and we’ll help you replace the negatives with healthier emotions and ways to communicate.
Your kids are worth the investment.
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