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Putting An End To Bullying Once And For All

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Finally Eliminating Bulling

 

On Sunday November 11th,  I spoke about bullying and on-line safety as part of The Centre for Child Honouring Speaker Series on Salt Spring Island, BC.   The Child Honouring movement was founded by  Raffi Cavoukian, best known as Raffi, the children’s troubadour.   Child Honouring principles and the Adlerian principles I teach are 100% aligned.  I encourage you to take a moment to read Raffi’s Covenant for Child Honouring.  I have a copy posted on my wall in my office.

I framed my talk around the need for systemic changes in the way we relate to one another.   We need to move from a culture that is impressed with power and superiority and instead move to a society that is based on a “culture of respect” (to borrow a phrase from Child Honouring).  Our historic methods of keeping societal order were the use and abuse of power over others.   The goal was keeping order through obedience.  Power was arranged vertically with those at the top imposing their will on the underlings.   Oppression can achieve compliance and obedience, but at a very great cost.   We have seen in the research of Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo that humans will put aside their moral conscience in order to obey authority with little prompting.   When the oppressed and the obedient are given freedom from their oppressor, they no longer obey but proceed to dominate and exert their power over the underlings they can find to abuse.

Sadly, we see this very trend in bullying.  Most bullies are the recipients of bullying.  Bullying thrives because we still raise children in a culture that does not share power well, that largely seeks to control and manipulate children.  Bullying is a relationship problem that requires a relationship solution.   The solution comes in aiming to raise co-operative children instead of obedient ones.   Co-operation, not obedience.  That is a significantly different goal of child rearing and today’s parents are not trained with methods of discipline that don’t involve power over others.   These methods do exist and we have hard evidenced-based research to prove the effectiveness of this style of parenting.   We need parents to have easier access to parent education in order to learn these new methods.  We need our classroom teachers and school administrators to be given training in child guidance principles that embrace positive discipline techniques.

The desire for power is natural. Children will experiment and seek power.  Raffi taught me this weekend that the word power comes from the ancient French word “poeir” which means “ability” or to be capable!  Indeed, every human has a need to be “empowered” to have autonomy, mastery and a sense of efficacy and agency in their life.   In the presence of  “poeir” children don’t need to seek power in the form of dominating others.   In fact,  if we want to raise caring co-operative children we have to create the proper conditions.   Co-operation is a by-product of feeling that we belong, and that we are in mutually respectful relationships.   If children feel disconnected or disrespected they will be unwilling to be co-operative.

We need to model healthy respectful relationships that share power appropriately.    Do you do that in your coupleship?  Do we do this in our school classrooms? Do we accomplish this in our politics and business institutions?  We have a mammoth job to do if we are going to eliminate bullying in this culture.   It is doable, but it involves mobilizing every level of society in the systemic change process.    Having a school assembly and putting up a anti-bullying poster is not going to cut it.

If you’re reading this blog you’ve probably heard me speak or read my other tips and so you are already motivated to move in this direction.  Let’s keep spreading the word and working together to make a better world for our children.   Great bullying information and resources can be found at PrevNet.ca, Kidsareworthit.com and micheleborba.com.

 

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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8 Responses to “Putting An End To Bullying Once And For All”

  1. Miranda Indrigo

    Very interesting. I’d love to hear your take on a parent’s response to when their child is experimenting with power. My daughter (4) and niece (5) are good friends, but often try to assert power with each other. As a parent, what do you suggest we do? Is it a parent’s place to get involved when we see power struggles at hand? And if so, how do you advise handling it?

    Reply
  2. Alyson Schafer

    Hi Miranda, I would show the children skills to resolve their issues without asserting power. I would also comment on how well they get along when they do, and remind them of other solutions they had that worked. I do watch to ensure that each child stays within boundaries. For example – if one child TELLS the other child where to sit at a table, I would intervene and say “that is not your choice to make, its your cousins. She is capable of deciding for herself”. If you give me a specific situation, I can help more. Thanks for engaging in this important discussion. Alyson

    Reply
  3. lean smith

    Bullying bothers everyone and not just the kids who are getting picked on. Bullying can make school a place of fear and can lead to more violence and more stress for everyone. Some bullies threaten people or try to make them do things they don’t want to do. However there are some strategies to somehow avoid this situation. Like hold the anger. It’s natural to get upset by the bully, but that’s what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Practice not reacting by crying or looking red or upset. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a useful skill for keeping off of a bully’s radar. Or provide them an extra protection like what I am using right with my son. Thanks to my sister who introduced me this mobile application for safety and protection that includes bullying. Just pressing a button it can notify and alert friends, family and myself. If needed, the call will be routed to the nearest 911 dispatch. Protect your child with by only using your mobile phones. Just click on my name and it will direct you to safekidzone website.

    Reply
  4. lean smith

    Bullying bothers everyone and not just the kids who are getting picked on. Bullying can make school a place of fear and can lead to more violence and more stress for everyone. Some bullies threaten people or try to make them do things they don’t want to do. However there are some strategies to somehow avoid this situation. Like hold the anger. It’s natural to get upset by the bully, but that’s what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Practice not reacting by crying or looking red or upset. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a useful skill for keeping off of a bully’s radar. Or provide them an extra protection like what I am using right with my son. Thanks to my sister who introduced me this mobile application for safety and protection that includes bullying. Just pressing a button it can notify and alert friends, family and myself. If needed, the call will be routed to the nearest 911 dispatch. Protect your child anytime and anywhere by only using your mobile phones.

    Reply
  5. lean smith

    Bullying bothers everyone and not just the kids who are getting picked on. Bullying can make school a place of fear and can lead to more violence and more stress for everyone. Some bullies threaten people or try to make them do things they don’t want to do. However there are some strategies to somehow avoid this situation. Like hold the anger. It’s natural to get upset by the bully, but that’s what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Practice not reacting by crying or looking red or upset. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a useful skill for keeping off of a bully’s radar. Or provide them an extra protection like what I am using right with my son. Thanks to my sister who introduced me this mobile application for safety and protection that includes bullying. Just pressing a button it can notify and alert friends, family and myself. If needed, the call will be routed to the nearest 911 dispatch.

    Reply
  6. lean smith

    Bullying bothers everyone and not just the kids who are getting picked on. Bullying can make school a place of fear and can lead to more violence and more stress for everyone. Some bullies threaten people or try to make them do things they don’t want to do. However there are some strategies to somehow avoid this situation. Like hold the anger. It’s natural to get upset by the bully, but that’s what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Practice not reacting by crying or looking red or upset. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a useful skill for keeping off of a bully’s radar. Or provide them an extra protection like what I am using right with my son. Thanks to my sister who introduced me this mobile application for safety and protection that includes bullying. Just pressing a button it can notify and alert friends, family and myself. If needed, the call will be routed to the nearest 911 dispatch. Bullying must end because our child deserve freedom.

    Reply
  7. Amy

    Hi, thank-you for creating this informative site loaded with helpful tips/suggestions. I’m sure many of us can name scenarios that continually play out by friends, also parents of younger kids. For example, my neighbor and co-worker is VERY conformity and obedience focused when dealing with her 3 kids Noah (5.5), Elizabeth (4), and Maddison (11 months). She is so rigid and controlling with them, especially Noah, that on the rare occasions he is given control, he has no idea how to react. He gets aggressive easily. Noah’s mom and grandmother get so frustrated they call him names, smack him on the head, whatever it takes to get him to conform and be obedient–to which he reacts with extreme meltdowns. In my opinion its very abusive. I’m very close to just telling some of these parents around me, for the LOVE OF GOD learn problem solving skills and better, healthier, consistent ways of dialoging/conflict management with your family so they’re NOT hitting my child again! Then, these kids can learn to be sensitive, tune into the feelings of others and make relational and problem solving decisions based on that information. Really, that’s where many if not ALL the problems (like bullying) our kids (and later as adults) come from.
    I’ve worked with kids age infant to 13 for almost 20 years, and have a background in Psychology. If these issues are not addressed then we’ll consistently raise kids who display: learned helplessness, so entitled, spoiled, and aggressive due to misuse of parental authority they have no idea how to respond to bullying, peer pressure, or utilize decision making/critical thinking skills in their everyday problems. From the age of 3 children can be taught this!!! I know because I’ve been working with my daughter (almost 5) since she was 3 months old: with language, reading, and yes PROBLEM SOLVING –ALL kids will, at one point or another, be faced with a situation they will have to problem solve in AND YOU (THE PARENT) WILL NOT BE THERE TO DO IT FOR THEM!
    I’ve never attended any of your seminars which I’m sure are good, but I do agree we as parents must shift from being rigid, conformity driven to adopt a balance of discipline, independence, sensitivity to the parent/child and the child/child relationships.
    However, for those of us everyday folks who cannot enlist or afford the help a licensed professional we need practical advice–stuff we can use right now. I can’t tell you as a parent how frustrating it is to find seemingly helpful material only to later find out whatever was being taught was outdated or found to be ineffective. As parents, we need effective, cutting edge, practical, cost effective tools/techniques/skills we can use with our kids everyday starting right now. What we say, teach, feed ourselves and our child right now, will have a PROFOUND effect on them throughout their lives. We as parents do have control, but it must be exercised appropriately.

    Reply
  8. Alyson Schafer

    Thanks for posting. Yes, parenting is hard and people do need affordable resources. I hope my on line advice is helping with that deficit.
    Alyson

    Reply

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