The Bully Needs Love, Too

By S. Renee Smith, Vivian Harte

Bullying in schools continues to be a hot topic. But why? Why would a child feel good about tormenting another child? Why is social media being used to embarrass, harass, and belittle others? Why are inappropriate texts and photos being shared? Why is violence a huge issue in schools?

The root cause of anyone demeaning another is low self-esteem. But can the mind of a child or teen comprehend and process that? Many leaders, teachers, mentors, and parents feel a responsibility to teach, protect, and develop young people. Yet it seems that despite this serious commitment, there’s a gap between where young people are and where they’re expected to be.

What can be done to close that gap? How can you help the bully? Here are some tips on how to develop well-rounded, healthy young people.

  • Understand them. Children do what they see and act out what they know. Upset family dynamics and poor relationships cause children to ask for help in unusual ways. Listen for them screaming for assistance and support.

  • Love them. Love means different things to different people and is expressed in as many ways as there are people. Regardless of how you express love, it means seeing, hearing, and responding to your children’s needs. All children want to be accepted. Find something they do right and praise them for it. The more praise they get for what they do right, the more they’ll want to do things right.

  • Create expectations. Young people are extremely capable, resilient, and amazing human beings — if you expect them to be. By creating expectations and boundaries, they’re able to test and see their capacity to be quality people. The expectations should be about more than grades. Expect them to respect themselves and others, to volunteer to help others, and to be clear on what’s most important in life.

  • Listen to them. Life can get busy, swallowing up the time you have to listen to your children. It’s easy to get into the habit of expecting your children to listen to you. When there’s little connection through communication, children feel invisible, aimless, and unimportant. By listening to your children, you can provide guidance and wisdom to help develop them into healthy human beings.