The term bullying use to refer to the stereotypical big kid picking on the smaller kid in school. Today the term bullying can cover a much broader areas of behavior that children engage in that involves real or perceived imbalance of power such as teasing, name calling, spreading rumors, social isolation, and threats of violence. It can be easy to dismiss bullying as poor parenting but bullying is also a societal issue. Children learn by observation. The question is what have they been observing?
The first models for children are parents or primary caregivers. It is important for parents to teach children to be empathic towards those who look different, who are less fortunate, and have disabilities but parents must also teach children how to be considerate of other’s feelings. There are numerous shows on television and things posted on social media that encourages anti-social behaviors like name-calling, gossiping, and social ostracizing. It is important for parents to talk to their children about the negative behaviors their children see and may even participate in and to model being empathic, which is putting yourself in another person’s shoes.
One of the ways of teaching children to be empathic is to address the needs of what your child with compassion and understanding. Another way is to model sympathetic feelings for others and discover things people share in common rather than highlighting differences. Humanizing the difficulties others face can help children explore and discover other perspectives, which can lead to learning to treat others with respect and dignity. In other words, treat others how they want to be treated.
By: Denise Dugan, IMFT, PCCI –Intern Marriage & Family Therapist, Professional Clinical Counselor Intern IMF91123, PCCI2639
Clinical Supervisor: Janelle Novell, LMFT, RPT-S –Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist LMFT32101