In a New Light
While bullying has been an issue for many generations, technological advancements we have today leave people open to threats in the comfort of their own homes. With progress comes challenges and unfortunately cyber-bullying is a byproduct of this. However, this doesn’t mean that other bullying isn’t happening, because it is. Bullying can also happen at school and during extra curricular activities. Bullying can be the cause of depression and suicide, which is why many people are speaking out about it and advocating for a bully-free world. Thanks to HelpGuide.org, we have new insights on ways to cope with and prevent bullying.
Many times children being bullied wonder why they’re the ones being taunted. Victims might feel that something is wrong with them. HelpGuide.org helps us understand what goes on in a bully’s mind and it typically has nothing to do with the people they target. Those who bully can be jealous of the target, act out to become popular, stronger, or more powerful than the target, to escape their own problems, or because they’re being bullied themselves. If possible, instead of becoming more introverted, it can be helpful to look at the issue from a different light. The following are some tips for reframing the bullying situation to help regain a sense of control:
· Try to view bullying from a different perspective. The bully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
· Look at the big picture. Bullying can be extremely painful, but try asking yourself how important it will seem to you in the long run. Will it matter in a year? Is it worth getting so upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
· Focus on the positive. Reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. Make a list and refer to it whenever you feel down.
· Find the humor. If you’re relaxed enough to recognize the absurdity of a bullying situation, and to comment on it with humor, you’ll likely no longer be an interesting target for a bully.
· Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—including the behavior of other people. Rather than allowing interactions to cause undue stress, focus on the things you can control, such as the way you choose to react to bullies.
If you have children, walk through these steps with them and help them to understand how and why to implement each suggestion. Role-play different scenarios where one of you is the bully and one of you is being bullied. How do you feel in each scenario? Why do you think the other person is acting or reacting in that way?
Another great way to help children understand and cope with bullying is through literature. Books open the doors to discussion and allow children to see situations from a new perspective. Here are a couple books that show bullying from the perspective of the victim and the bully. These books encourage children to consider the views of others:
This is A. Blob by L.A Kefalos
This picture book is the first in a series that follows the antics of a playground bully named A. Blob, a sticky blob of purple goo that wreaks havoc at school with its bullying ways. What is great about this book is that the bully is race and gender neutral, so children can project their own experiences into the story. As the story progresses, we learn that A. Blob has pain of its own and perhaps the acts of bullying are a cry for help. The text rhymes and the illustrations are beautiful, making this book a good tool for introducing bullying situations to young children.
The Weird Series by Erin Frankel
This is a series of 3 picture books, each showing the same bullying situation from 3 different perspectives (the bully, the victim, and the bystander). With each character getting her own book, children are able to get a more in-depth view of each situation than they might if everything was put into just one story. The Weird Series is geared for 8-11 year olds. Like This is A. Blob, The Weird Series is perfect for helping children to understand both the causes and effects of bullying.
Bullying is a difficult issue to deal with and understand. It’s complex, sticky, and nuanced. Thankfully it is not unsolvable. By using tools such as those provided by Helpguide.org and authors like L.A. Kefalos and Erin Frankel, we can help children to gain a new perspective on bullying, understand the issue, and begin to end bullying once and for all.
What tools have you used to help children understand the issue of bullying? What helped you to gain a new perspective? Share your experiences in the comments or talk with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!
Red, White & Blue
This recent Fourth of July made us reflect more deeply about what independence means. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, independence is freedom from outside control or support. Similarly, personal independence is the notion that people can express, think, and make decisions based on their personal preferences developed based on their culture and preferences. Independence and freedom, which allow our primary national characteristic of individualism to flourish, are the backbone of this country.
In his well-known book of essays titled Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville, a prominent 19th century French sociologist and political theorist, commented on the benefits and potential dangers of individualism. He believed that individualism must be controlled because “it has a tendency to fall to selfishness …that leads man to connect everything to himself and to prefer himself to everything in the world.” Despite this danger, de Tocqueville also observed that this same individualism is a key ingredient to progress. When people embrace their unique capabilities and put them to use solving social, political, and business challenges, nations benefit. He recognized that it was this balance between freedom and responsibility that made America special. Living in the United States today we continue to have personal independence…with restrictions. Your rights end where someone else’s begin; there often are consequences when your words and actions harm, disrespect, or demean other people. This raises the question: is freedom with boundaries truly freedom?
The Freedom Paradox
Freedom in a human society has limits, and that’s good. Having personal freedom doesn’t mean that the moral compass can be thrown out the window. Tolerance and respect are as important as independent freedom. If everyone had to think, act, and do things the same or—even worse—was required by law to conform, there would be no true freedom. And so, to allow everyone to live as freely as possible, there must be limits and guidelines. It’s a bit paradoxical, but that’s reality.
An example of balance between independence and boundaries can be seen in the parent-child relationship. As a young child, family and friends often form opinion, but personal independence is also left to develop. It’s this creativity that allows children to develop their own opinions and beliefs to develop their unique selves. It is easy for children to cling to the beliefs of others- especially people they trust, and this is a good thing as children learn and grow. Later, when children are able to go through their own personal experiences, they can then form their own beliefs and viewpoints. Independence seems to us to be a maturation process, not unlike how a child matures.
In reflecting on history, America appears to have gone through a maturation process, too. It began with the original colonies, fighting for and creating the Declaration of Independence, and continued with the abolishment of slavery, voting rights for women, and, most recently, same-sex marriages. These events come down to the same issue—independence and the line between protecting opinions and protecting rights. With time comes change, which is imperative to protecting rights no matter what race, religion, gender, or sexual preference. However, relatively few people like change. But why is this? Is this because they’re comfortable where they are? Is it because the problems arising don’t appear to have anything to do with them? These questions can’t be answered simply. Resistance comes from different places, but fortunately in the United States, everyone has the personal freedom to believe what they want and the right to talk about it. Of course, independence has two sides. With freedom comes responsibility. It can be a difficult balance and one that sometimes does not come easily. Sure, everyone has missteps occasionally, but it’s a great freedom to have the right to be ourselves and it is worth the effort we each should make so our individualism is never allowed to fall into the destructive selfishness de Tocqueville feared.
So, think about how far we’ve come with freedom and imagine what will be accomplished in the years to come if we all are constructive participants in our world as parents, community and family members, and as professionals.
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
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