Bullying is a horrible fact of life and can affect us at any age. If your child is being bullied, use our action checklist to help them understand why it’s happening and how they can beat it.
Daring to be different – why people bully
When you’re being bullied, the reasons may be incomprehensible. If your son or daughter is a victim, they—and you—are probably wondering why. It’s important to remember that a feeling of inadequacy on the part of the perpetrator often causes teasing and bullying.
If your child experiences or witnesses bullying, talk together about the bully’s possible motives. Help your son or daughter recognize that everyone’s different and diversity is a fantastic thing—but other people don’t always see it that way. Quite often it’s a lack of understanding or insecurity on the part of the bully, which means they pick on someone who they perceive as different from them.
What makes someone become a bully?
Sometimes bullies are motivated by a deeper reason, like problems at home, or they have been bullied themselves or have other issues they are struggling with, so they may be feeling angry or vulnerable.
When Judith helped her daughter Bryony confront her bully, she also uncovered the reason behind the behavior. “The child told my daughter she had done it because Bryony had two parents and a nice home,” says Judith. This doesn’t make it OK for her to bully, but, as Judith recognized, it was “clearly an act of jealousy.”
While it’s never OK to bully, understanding why people do it can help put the bully’s remarks into perspective. By teaching about bullying, you’ll help your child approach bullies with a different mentality, and possibly prevent lasting damage.
To protect privacy, we’ve changed the names of the people whose stories we tell on these pages, but their stories are genuine.
Follow psychotherapist and body image expert Dr. Susie Orbach’s suggestions to give your child a better insight into a bully’s world: