When you become a mom your worries go from “Does this purple eyeliner look cool or like I have a black eye?” to “Is he getting enough to eat?”, “Is his head a funny shape?”, and, “What if I raise a bully?”
Bullies can be boys or girls, big or small, in your face or hiding behind a screen. Since bullies are raised and not born, you might be encouraging your child to become a bully without even knowing it. Here are a few ways you could be raising a bully:
Allowing your child independence in small tasks will help encourage responsibility, and she will begin to set her own goals and expectations. Plus, awarding your child small household tasks will not only grow autonomy but will also make them feel like they are part of a team…even if they might complain about having to take out the trash or dry the dishes.
Setting un-clear, inconsistent boundaries.
Confusing rules and conflicting parenting styles could lead to a child acting out to test their boundaries. Discuss parenting roles and boundaries with your partner to make sure you are both on the same page and enforce those rules in a consistent and clear manner. And, after you have a clear idea of rules, explain and talk through them with your child so they know why something is “right” or “wrong.”
Monkey see, Monkey do.
It starts with something as small as watching you brush his hair and when he’s handed the brush he mimics the brushing motion on his own. Little eyes and little brains are taking in every motion and every word – every day. So, give them something good to mimic! Volunteer, hold the door open for someone at the store, compliment a stranger. But, don’t contradict yourself. Just because you opened the door for someone, doesn’t mean you can get R-rated when someone cuts you off in the parking lot. (I know it’s hard – I’m looking at you silver Honda.)
I believe children are inherently kind, but as a parent you need to nurture and grow that kindness. Explain and show empathy. When watching a movie or TV show where there is a bully picking on another, ask your child to put themselves in the shoes of the one being picked on. Ask, “What do you think he’s feeling?” or “How would you respond if someone was treating you like that?”
“It will make him tough.”
A phrase that I hate but hear a lot as a Boy Mom. It sounds playful, but at its root its just a way to ignore the destructive feelings of anger, sadness, and shame. It’s important to talk through these feelings with your child, and let them know that these are perfectly normal and justified feelings. Listening will give them a way to express and work through these feelings in a healthy, non-destructive way.