Judgement just enflames bullying - it clouds us so we stop searching for the root issues. It closes us off to one another, it shuts down our hearts.
The truth? Within a cycle of bullying, there is intense pain and paralyzing fear.
It is what fuels the person bullying. It is placed into the person they are harming. It seeps into their teachers, their administrators... and deeply into their parents.
The solution can be complex... sure. But, to get there, we need to start caring.
Until we shift out of a place of judgement and into a curious and caring mindset, we will never solve the issue.
It is SO easy to snap, to punish, to get angry when our kids are unkind... We were raised to believe that punishment will teach our kids "the lesson" to not bully again.
But, it doesn't seem to work.
Instead, I suggest to parents and educators to get themselves into the mindset of the 4C's when they have to talk with their children or students when there has been an issue.
The 4C's are: coach, calm, caring & curious.
If we can stay loving and non-judgemental, the TRUE story can come out. And when it does - we can solve it.
Usually, when the root issue is resolved, bullying ends.
Let's remember our little people need to learn how to BE, and that includes how to be KIND. It is up to us to help them learn those lessons.
I give this poster to clients to figure out how they handle conflict. When we are stuck within a power struggle (which, in it's extreme form is bullying), we choose to Power Over, or Power Under. We can also think about it as choosing "violence" or "silence".
They key to snap out of these power-plays (and even get out of bullying or abusive relationships!) is to use a Third Way - that is to Power With! There are other words for it - assertive, strong & kind voice, standing up, etc.
Everyone's strong and kind voice sounds different. It's important to find your own so that you will use it!
Send me a message if you want to learn more, or, if you want me to send you a copy of this poster to print!
In the midst of life - of the mess, the clutter, the rushing and accomplishing, I always take time every night to write 5 things I am grateful for.
Choosing this practice gives me a moment every day to focus on what went RIGHT.
The moment in this picture, encapsulates something I’m always grateful for - my son’s relationship with his Grampa.
They delight in each other’s presence, and, in my hurried and harried state, Grampa’s giggle about something my son has done brings ME back to the reality of the moment… When I shift my focus from my whirring mental state into the present, I have a chance to see something adorable or hilarious, and my mind eases.
The expectation of writing 5 things down every day forces me to be more mindful DURING the day of the great things - the birds flying south, a hug between my kids, a kind nod of a passerby. So, I don’t always have to rely on Grampa to shift my focus, I can do it myself too.
Being tapped into what IS helps me to lighten the load of my anxieties about the future.
And, as we take on whatever important tasks we have chosen - for me it’s helping families to get to sleep, and, to help stop cycles of bullying, I can ALSO find ways to ground myself into the exceptional little moments that happen all around me every day.
I know it's so easy (and understandable!) to be mad when bullying happens; To be mad at the principal, or the teacher, or the parents, or the kid... But, can I, just for a second, place another option in your mind:
Maybe, we deal with bullying so badly because society is lacking conflict management skills.
- the principal felt confident that they had an answer.
- the teacher felt like they had all the tools to handle every behaviour in their classroom.
- the parent had all the wisdom to handle their kid with aggressive behaviour.
- the child or teen bullying knew how to regulate their emotions and feelings and handle their pain.
Now think about how conversations might go when bullying did occur from a place of confidence. I can imagine everyone would feel much calmer. There would be more listening, more collaboration, and cooler heads.
I know that this isn't a popular thought, but it's one we need to start pondering.
It could be that ONE answer is to help students, teachers, administrators and parents handle conflict better.
If we made this a priority, I believe we'd start to move the needle towards much safer schools for everyone.
Kathleen is an anti-bullying specialist, a conflict coach, a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend...