Apologies To The Girl I Bullied

Apologies - BulliedA glance back to the day I bullied the new girl… I don’t remember your name. I just know you were sitting on your own during recess and I, the angry teenager, decided to take my own issues out on you! I remember you had blonde hair, and I remember you cried.

If only I knew then what I know now. If only I could understand my own hurt at being bullied, instead of turning around and doing the exact same thing to you. If only I knew how to manage my emotions better. And if only I had had the self worth to know that I was better than that! If only I had the courage to be kind, in stead of the cowardice it took to be cruel… So many “if only’s”…

What can I say to my children now? How do I teach them the immeasurable value of being kind, and how a simple sentence can change someone’s life? For better, or worse. How do I show them the damage that can be done by breaking down the spirit of another person for your own personal self-gratification? Not to mention that the hoped-for-self-gratification that comes from bullying is only ever fleeting and leaves us more empty than we were before.

I’m sure that for most girls there comes a time in life when cattiness, bitchiness and, yes, maybe even some bullying enters the scene. Sometimes this is a “right of passage” in learning about what kindness is. Learning about caring for the person next to you. “You can’t play with us!” is a statement that can, ironically, help children realize the hurt of rejection – and, if handled with care, could lead to building a meaningful friendship through the gift of apology and forgiveness. However, sadly, in most cases this kind of statement devolves very quickly into darker areas than mere ‘cattiness’ and escalates into an ugliness that is unfortunately never quenched.

I have often pondered the question: What causes a child to become a bully? Well, according to Dr. Gail Gross a Human Behavior, Parenting, and Education Expert, who acknowledges that “there is no one single profile of a child bully”, the following points may indeed lead a child to act unkindly toward others:

1. Like Parent, Like Child
Children model what they see. If a child is bullied by his/her parent, or is being abused or treated in a disrespectful way at home, that child is likely to imitate this behavior at school. They are learning from their parent that this type of behavior is acceptable.

2. The Powerless Child
Sometimes, the child that bullies is the child who feels completely powerless at home. Perhaps this child is abused, or watches one of his parents abuse another parent and he/she is left feeling scared and powerless at home. This child may attempt to gain back power by bullying others at school.

3. The Forgotten Child
I have seen children who feel invisible at home act out as bullies at school. Children need constant love and respectful attention from the adults who care for them — and they want and need it most from their mother and father. Nobody is more important than mom and dad; children will try to gain approval from mom and dad, from the time they are born until the time they die. If they do not get love and attention at home, they may feel voiceless and un-important. That feeling of invisibility may turn into anger, resentment and then bullying others at school.

4. The Entitled Child
Then there is the child who has been given too much power. I have seen children who are given everything they want, raised without limitations and rules to follow, who then grow up to feel entitled and all-powerful. These children may believe they have a right to bully others at school, since they bulldoze their parents at home.

5. Children Who Lack Empathy
Finally, there are those children who come from wonderful, loving homes with actively involved parents who become bullies. These child bullies may simply lack empathy, like to dominate, are possessive and want power. The wonderful thing about this is that empathy is something that can be taught.

However, Dr Gail Gross clearly states that…

Children Who Bully Are Still Children
It is important to remember that children who bully are still children. They are acting that way for a reason, and they, too, need help and guidance from adults. In my experience, bullies may not have healthy social behaviors, empathy, or coping skills. This has the potential to lead to a lifetime of relationship problems, general parenting problems, and even problems with the law.

As an adult I can definitely look back and see that some of my misplaced anger at the “raw deal” that I believed I had been dealt caused me to lash out unnecessarily. The inability to know how to cope with the pressures of “life”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe I was a MEAN kid, just an angry, insecure and lost girl. Fortunately for me I soon realized that I was a “product of my own choices”,  and it was time to put “my big girl panties on” and grow up!.

Teaching my children the gift of giving love, kindness, gentleness and acceptance is a priority I pray I accomplish!

With Love

One Messy Mama

x

Visit Dr Gail Gross at http://drgailgross.com/ for more interesting articles!

 

 

24 Comments on “Apologies To The Girl I Bullied”

  1. Hi Jaqui, it takes a lot of guts to admit you once bullied another child, so you can speak from the heart when teaching your children about bullying and the affects of it. Human nature is a complex thing, which can’t always be fathomed, but it can never be used a s an excuse for making someones else’s live a misery.

    I think the words ” I was a product of my own choices” is very apt. We are all a product of our own choices, but it takes a brave person to acknowledge it.

    xx
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  2. The piece about being aware that they are still children really resonated. It’s surprising how many adults you hear kid-bashing, not in the literal sense of course. It’s important to stop and remember whatever they do, they are only little.
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub xx

  3. This is a great post – bullying is so real. It’s refreshing to hear from someone who was a bully, and not just someone who was bullied. My 7yo has been bullied at school (by a new girl, who has since stopped bullying) and I was so proud when she told me she walked away. Of course she was upset but she knew how to remove herself from that situation. It’s important that kids understand why bullying happens, and empathy is a great tool when we can show kids how to use it.
    I really enjoyed this read! #stayclassy

  4. I was bullied really badly at school and this is a really good post. I am not sure the girls that bullied me could ever write something like this or know the real reason why they took a major disliking to me…but I am glad that you will be trying to teach your children that it isn’t the answer #coolmumclub

  5. The world can be cruel, and kudos to you for admitting your mistakes. Having read your post, it has made me think about individual situations each child faces more, and like you I hope i raise my kids well enough to never be bullies, and if in the unfortunate chance they get bullied, I hope I know how to help them handle it. #stayclassy

    1. I think most of us would be heartbroken to find out what some children have to endure on a daily basis! Sadly they turn to bullying other kids. Even though that is wrong, if we are more understanding we could change a child’s life for the better. I hope I am able to teach my children how to “save the bully”. If that makes sense! Thanks for reading. x
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  6. It takes real guts to admit that you once bullied a child and I think it is great that you are turning that negative behavior into something really positive to ensure that your children don’t do the same. The list of the types of bully serves to remind us that probably every single child has the potential to be a bully at some point in their lige and as a parent it is really important that we educate them so that they don’t do this through showing love and kindness like you state. I hope that I am raising my children not to be bullies. A really thought provoking post #stayclassy

    1. Exactly. I think most children at some point can be destructive with their comments. It’s important for parents to correct their behaviour and let them know that it is not ok! x

  7. I found this really hard to read as my daughter was badly bullied and we had to change schools – I really hope that her bullies are as forward thinking as you and learn from their mistakes and raise beautiful children just as you are – a very brave post to write and I admire you – the points you make are valid and I always told my daughter that bullying isn’t meant personally and that other crap is going on – oh goodness I could go on and on but I won’t as I would hate you to misread what I’m trying to say – thank you for writing this – it’s very interesting to read it from the other perspective #stayclassy

  8. My daughter was bullied by an “entitled child” for a couple of years at her old school. It caused her so much distress and she became very distrustful of new friendships. She has now moved to secondary education to a girls school ironically and despite being fearful about how she would cope she has learnt the value of true girl friendships. There is no place for bullies in this world. I have taught my daughter that if someone doesn’t conform with her idea of normality to not question it or challenge it but just accept that everyone is different. A brave but intelligent post. #coolmumclub

    1. I’m so pleased to hear she is doing well! Sometimes a fresh start is all we need to gain confidence again! Thank you for reading!

  9. Oh wow this is really interesting, thank you for sharing. I have seen a lot of “entitled child” bullies in my day, I think a lot of parents now-a-days think it is helping them by giving them everything they want, but in reality it is setting them up for a rough ride later on when they realise the world doesn’t revolve around them. I will have to check out the other articles by Dr. Gail Gross, the psychology of children really interests me. My son is too young to be bullied or bully yet (hopefully he will never be a bully!), but I too think teaching kindness is a priority. Thanks so much for linking up with #StayClassy!
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  10. This is really interesting and insightful. I do think, when it comes to children, the point that they are still children despite bullying is very important, and there has become a tendency to forget it. Yes, of course bullying should be addressed, and efforts should be made to protect victims. However, we have started to move to an attitude of essentially writing off and ostracising bullying children, and that is disproportionate and it is also unhelpful – if they are treated too harshly, and no one makes an effort to address their problems too, they are much more likely to become damaged and disenfranchised adults. &, in particular, I also have issues with the move towards labelling very young children as things like bullies, and ascribing to them motivations and malice they do not actually possess. When a small child says they don’t like or want to play with another child, they are not bullying, they are just behaving as small children do. Small children do not fully empathise with others, they are fickle, they are impulsive. Nowadays you do hear people making a fuss about pre-schoolers ‘bullying’ (or even ‘sexually harrassing’), and in nearly every case it is utterly ridiculous. There needs to be a sense of proportion when dealing with children. No child should be written off as irredeemably bad, and it is important to address bullying but also consider the impact of labels put on children. As you demonstrate, many children who display bullying behaviour WILL come to understand that was wrong, and to regret it. Remembering that the kind person is probably in there too, and helping them come to that realising sooner rather than later, is important in dealing with children who bully. #stayclassy

  11. It’s good you can reflect on your behaviour and its impact. I’ve bumped into people that made my life unpleasant and they hadn’t a faintest clue the damage they had done and sometimes thought we had been friends!

    It’s an important point about modelling behaviour but also the distinction between bully and a child that bullies. Labelling a bully implies that is what they are rather than a set of behaviours they can change.

    Great thought provoking post.

    #BrillBlogPost

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