Wednesday, May 6, 2009

21) Problem-Situations (continued)

"Let him(my son)learn early that bullies are the easiest to lick." Abraham Lincoln

Bullies are a real threat to children. They have nightmares because of them, bed-wet and throw a fit even at the mention of their names. For children, the problem is very real and traumatic, and not to be dismissed as 'timid behavior'.

Most often, bullies come from homes where they lack parental attention and discipline.Since they cannot 'draw' attention through refined and accomplished conduct, they 'call' attention to themselves through loud and unruly behavior. They get a few laughs and think it is fun.

Targets of such bullies see themselves as worthless, unattractive and unsuccessful victims. They are physically weak and fear the bigger size and greater strength of the bullies. Paradoxically, they secretly admire what the bullies can do, which they cannot. The problem that parents have to confront is not the bully, but the self-concept of their child. As long as the child sees himself as a 'victim', the bully-problem will not be solved.

How do parents solve this problem?
1) Not intentionally, but by acting without much thought, parents damage the self-respect of their children. From infancy they are put down as those who know little, who cannot do much and are regarded as part of the herd. As a result their self-image stays low. They see themselves as 'low value items' in the family. This is very true of girl children in some communities. For their own sakes, parents should remember that respect is a two-way street. If children are not respected, it will soon be their turn to lose respect. In fairness to children, parents should consider it top priority to build their self-worth (post 22 will address this point).
2) In a twisted perception of love, some parents over-protect their children, making them overly dependent on them. They feed Dependence and starve Self-Reliance. If children are not weaned from parents, in stages, they become parasites.
3) Because of over-protection, children are slow to make friends. Bullies exploit this weakness when they spot their 'alone-ness'. Children should break barriers and learn to make friends easily (post 23 will address this point).
4) Children should feel loved and bask in the warmth of the family. When they enjoy love at home, no problem outside the home is of consequence. Parents can build self-confidence in the children by giving them time in plenty, develop their interests, satisfy their curiosity for knowledge and give them praise.
5) Physical exercise and strength-building diet will make children physically fit, giving them stamina and zest. Bullies tend to keep off physically strong peers.
6) Children should be 'conditioned' never to fear the bully. Bed time stories and real life incidents on how people put bullies in their place, should be constant reminders to them that bullies are easiest to lick, because they flee when confronted.
7) Deborah Cowly, an expert on child behavior, recommends the following four
a) Discuss the problem of bullying at Parent-Teacher-Association meets, reminding teachers and administrators that their own children could be 'victims'.
b) Teachers should take serious note of any attempt by bullies, in her class or outside, to intimidate her students.
c) Adult supervision should be organized for field activities, where bullying is common.
d) The school should name a Contact who can be reached at any time to report a bullying incident. Suitable action should follow.
8) Back children in their attempts to win minor victories over bullies. As they gain confidence, they will fear them less.
9) Essentially, it is the attitude of the child that matters. If he is unafraid to stand up, the bully will know that he has met his match.

A mother at 18, was obsessed with her new born son. She would not let him out of her sight, carry him around and not put him down; smother him with flannels even on a warm day; screen his food and use a thermometer three times a day to check if he ran a fever. She went with him to school and stayed in the school premises to bring him back. He always ran to her when he had a problem. By encouraging such behavior, she was fulfilling her need, to be wanted; not his. In short, she was 'killing' him with her kindness. He is an old man today and weeps. He was bullied at school, in the place he worked, by his wife who left him soon after they married, and even by his neighbors. His mother is dead, but he is among the living-dead.

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