If you’ve ever been bullied in your life, you’ll know that it’s not a nice feeling. And I’m guessing that if you say you’ve never been bullied you would be one of an exceedingly small group of people.
Bullying occurs in pretty much all areas of life, families, adult relationships, workplaces, sport.
Anywhere there are people being together there is a chance there’s bullying occurring.
What Causes Bullying
I'm going to take a guess and say that you think bullying is all about the other person wanting power. And yes, you're partly right in your thinking.
What you may not realize though is that underneath that outer view is the opposite, someone that feels incompetent, not good enough, inadequate, inferior.
And like with all emotional states, when the pain of feeling inadequate, incompetent or not good enough is too much for someone to bare, they block it off and turn their expression of what they’re feeling outwards, hence bullying.
A bully may feel extremely inferior inside and yet what they do is take that and manifest it into nastiness and aggression outwards at another person.
Doing that gives the bully short term release, and unfortunately in no way gets to the bottom of what is really going on for them i.e. how they really feel.
Not Knowing How to Handle Their Emotions Is Not A Bullies Fault
Were you, as a child, taught how to handle your emotions? I’m going to take a guess and say you weren’t. Like a lot of children, parents often feel uncomfortable with their own emotions therefore they feel even less comfortable talking about them with their children.
This means that children don’t understand emotions and what they are, and how to use the emotion for good.
Often in families bullying has been a common theme among generations. A child grows up in a world where there is no other way. Not one family member understands why bullying is occurring, nor what it would take to change that behavior.
It is, after all, a behavior. And that behavior has nothing to do with the person. As I explained they only know how to behave one way; block out their emotions and turn that outwards at someone else.
What That Means for Your Child
Bullies will have a hard time trusting anyone because most of the people in their lives bully them. And we are not talking about physical outbursts here, it can be through words.
Taking on a bully isn’t easy. Their instinctive behavior says “fight for your life.” And so no matter what your child does whether that is to try and befriend the bully, stand up to them and fight (physically or verbally) it’s not going to make a difference.
If on the other hand, they understand what is going on behind the bullying, they may approach the bully in a different way.
I am not saying they need to be the bully’s counsellor, but if they understand that the bully doesn’t feel good about themselves, they might not be so defensive around the bully, for example.
Bullies will feed off fear. And so, if your child is less fearful around them, the bully will back down their defenses, even slightly. This might help in that there may be less chance for the bully to turn their anger/emotion towards your child.
Do You Notice Your Child Being a Bully
Now that you understand what sits behind bullying if you notice your child using that behavior you have something to talk with them about.
You might like to ask them what is happening inside them. Find out how they are feeling.
It might be they feel like they aren’t as good as the others, or that they can’t do something the coach expects them to do. It may even be that they don’t think they are doing whatever it is good enough.
Anything that can trigger that inner thought pattern of not good enough, may set off bullying behavior.
The more people, in general, understand bullying the better chance we have as a society of turning the behavior around. As I explained, after all, it is only behavior.
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Karen coaches players to be more focused and play with ease, not stress. And their parents to support their child in the best possible way. Life playing hockey should be fun. Mindset matters. Mental health matters. Hockey should be fun, not emotionally overloading.