Everyone talks about stopping bullies and the consequences they should have for their behavior. But let’s talk about the bullies themselves, why are they behaving this way? Why are they seeking to embarrass, shame, and hurt others?
Today, for most families, everything is fast paced. You wake up, get dressed, eat, go to school or work, come home and repeat the morning routine and go to sleep, to simply wake up and do the same all over again. As parents we are caught up in the routine leaving little to no space to be in the present with our children. Raising emotionally healthy children prevents bullies from being created.
Being in the present
Children are constantly begging for our attention. They want to feel safe, be seen, recognized, and know that their parents are present supporting them through their growth. The first source of emotional health is the bond created between parent and child, this is imperative to their:
Parents get caught up in their everyday obligations and forget to be present to notice their children. In Becky Bailey’s I Love You Rituals book you can find a simple formula to measure the amount of unconditional attention you give your children daily, you can do this by simply writing down all of the things you do for your children throughout the day. From this list, you can remove all of the things that are responsibilities that you must do as a parent—feed, cloth, shower; then subtract all of the things you do out of guilt, and finally remove all of the time you spend disciplining your child—what’s left? How many interactions with your children were truly unconditional?.
According to Bailey, most parents end up noticing their children only when they do something to call their attention, whether it is displeasing them through misbehaving or pleasing them by doing something special. This instills the belief that love from their parents comes through misbehaving or doing something special, which in turn creates a cycle of feeling less than others or better than others affecting their self esteem and emotional growth.
If parents take time to just “be present”, be in the moment, giving attention to their children without them having to do something in order to get it one way or another, children are then free to grow in balance without having to worry about seeking acknowledgement.
The consequences of not being present
When most children feel unloved and not seen by their parents they turn to misbehavior, they begin to adopt the belief that negative attention from their parents is better than no attention at all. The consequences of only giving this negative attention to our children results in children becoming defensive by not listening, having an attitude, and becoming distant because this negative attention brings fear, lowers their self esteem, and discourages the development of their own will power and trust.
Bullies are children, and even adults, who over time had unmet emotions by their parents or caregivers. The bond created between parent and child is one with stress, which in turn has a deep impact on their emotional development.
We cannot make a child, or anyone for that matter, behave how we want them to. We as parents are here to guide and support, our children have free will as much as we do, and their response to our parenting depends on how well we establish our bond with them.
What are some of the things you can do
Taking fifteen minutes daily to be present with your child can be life changing as it establishes and strengthens your bond with them, which is crucial to their emotional growth.
I noticed that when my daughter would do something she would immediately look at me for reassurance—as most children do, and what I was doing was responding by saying “Good job!” “Good girl!”. But I was only teaching her that if she did something to make me happy, then I would look at her. So instead, I now look at her and acknowledge what she did, I say, “Wow, you ate your chicken!”. I am fully acknowledging what she did, letting her know that I am present with her and her accomplishments are noticed not rewarded.
Another moment we share together is in our “night night massage”, not only does it help her release the toxins from her body, but it brings us both to the present while using our senses to do so. I name the parts of her body with her and it helps us both connect for that moment. Sometimes I play calming music or I’ll have her hold her Calm & Balance card so it brings her energy to balance while I am doing the massage– the bonus part is she plays with the card so she is entertained and isn’t moving around too much, getting a toddler to sit still is not the easiest thing.
You can use our Balance and Calm card to bring you and your child to the present moment promoting calmness and disconnection from everything else so that time and space is created to give unconditional love. It is very difficult sometimes to get home as a parent and turn off the work mode mentality along with all of the parent responsibilities we have. This card is made to support you in doing that.
So come up with what works for you. Whatever allows you to be in the present sharing unconditional time with your children. Bullies are just people hurting deeply for not feeling loved, recognized, and acknowledged. It is never too late to heal those wounds and establish the lost bond.