When Bullying Hits Too Close to Home

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Here is a great guest piece about bullying from Jeff Bearden:

The bullying issues of today are often focused on what’s happening in schools.  But, what happens when bullying is closer to home? Your home may feel like a battlefield when your children start competing with and tormenting each other.  The important thing here is to know that there is a distinction between sibling rivalry and sibling bullying.

The issues between siblings are nothing new.  The Old Testament of the Bible recounted the story of Cain slaying Abel, and, in Roman mythology, Romulus slew his brother Remus. The sports world also tends to shine a more positive light on sibling rivalries, highlighting the competitions between Serena and Venus Williams, Jim and John Harbaugh, and Peyton and Eli Manning.  While there’s nothing wrong with a friendly competition between siblings, there is a problem when the rivalry turns to abuse—or even violence.

The University of New Hampshire’s Crimes against Children Research Center conducted a survey that shows that more attention should be paid to this issue—most parents dismiss issues between their children as sibling rivalry, but, in some cases, there is something more serious at play. Often, the verbal and physical abuse coming from a sibling has as much—or more—of an effect on a child as the bullying that occurs in a school setting.

Children, especially those close in age, begin learning the skills of conflict resolution when they are told to share their toys with their sibling. But, when the resolution turns to aggressive behavior or violence, it can have an impact on their mental health. Even the most observant of parents often have little knowledge of the extent to which this aggression is playing in their children’s lives.

Sometimes, however, parents add fuel to the fire and create an even larger gap between their children or catalyze the bullying.  Author and psychologist John V. Caffaro says that parents who fail to intervene, play favorites, or give their children labels that sow division—for example, introducing one child as “the smart one” or calling one child their “little angel” and the other their “little demon”—can inadvertently encourage conflict.

What can parents to avoid bullying between their children? Here are five suggestions to help:

1. Prevent jealousy by making sure that each child receives recognition and praise equally.

2. Avoid making comparisons such as “Why don’t you keep your room as clean as your brother’s”?

3. Avoid labeling or categorizing your children.

4. Act as a role model in your interactions with your own siblings, so your children learn by watching how you act.

5. Teach your children to be empathetic towards others, so they are less likely to bully others.

If bullying can be prevented and not tolerated in the home, children are less likely to be bullies outside of the home.

About the Author:

Jeff Bearden, known as “The Get Back on Your Feet Guy”, inspires today’s youth to get back on their feet,stand up to bullying, battle depression, and live lives free of alcohol and drugs through his motivational speaking. As a professional wrestler for over 25 years—working under the names “Giant Warrior” and “Tiger Steele”—Bearden entertained audiences all over the world, including audiences of over 75,000. Through his wrestling career, he had experiences both positive and negative that he brings to his speeches. The topics that Bearden speaks on are those that have personally affected him and people he knew from his life on the road, providing his audience with a judgment-free and relatable message. His message is as powerful as his seven-foot stature: no matter where you are in your life and no matter what cards life has dealt you, you can get back on your feet and thrive.



Categories: Edu/Homeschool, Kiddie Stuff

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  1. Michigan Mom Living: When Bullying Hits Too Close to Home – Jeff Bearden
  2. Michigan Mom Living: When Bullying Hits Too Close to Home – Southern Guidance

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