Human beings all crave to belong. We want to have friendships that support us and make us feel good. However, when we start to feel no longer wanted by others, we experience the weight of loneliness and isolation. This is especially true with adolescents. A recent article about bullying behaviors connected these negative behaviors to feelings of not belonging.
Some adolescents will go about this in negative ways such as gossiping, harassing, or physical hurting those whom they believe have hurt their connection with others. This can be face-to-face or online. These bullying behaviors are almost never effective in increasing their sense of belonging. The more they do these behaviors, the more their peers will drift away from them.
If you notice your child partaking in these behaviors, try to talk with your child about a more positive way to increase feelings of being included. One mother who was interviewed by NPR recently about how she noticed her daughter was the one being the bully. She asked her daughter to 3 things about the girl she was bullying. Soon enough the conversation about the girl changed from “she is annoying” to “my friend”.
Sadly our child is sometimes the one being bullied. It is hard – but important to also talk to your child about how the bully may be feeling threatened or left out. Explain that by changing how we react to the bullies in our lives will change their behaviors. At the least, help your child in setting boundaries without bullying back.
It is also important to tell our children to stick up for those who are being bullied. If they see someone is being bullied by another, it is important for them to tell the bully their behavior isn’t cool. Bullies tend to be more responsive to their peers rather than adults. For more bullying advice, check out stopbullying.gov
This will be a very challenging thing to do but by understanding the background of bullying behaviors, we can change the conversation about bullying and reduce the children who bully or are the victims of bullying.
How have you dealt with bullying happening to or from your child? Is the information in this article helpful?