Friday, December 31, 2010

Raising Bullies

So I heard about a book that came out recently called "How to raise a bully" or something like that. Some people obviously don't need to read it because they're doing a great job raising bullies already.

I just don't get it. You don't stand by and do nothing when your child is pushing or punching another child. You also don't respond to a child's violence with violence of your own. You don't teach your child to be nice to others by hurting them when you are angry. Several times I've seen a little kid get violent, and then Mom or Dad comes and grabs them by the ear and drags them away or yells at them, or even hurts them like they did the other child. What does this teach them? "My parent hurts others when they are angry." Children are the ultimate copycats. Of course they will become violent when they are angry. When someone takes their toy. When someone doesn't give them a toy they want to play with. Parents should model the behavior that they want to see. First, try and resolve the issue through communication. Having a child say "I'm sorry" and make amends any way they can is a good start. Kids need to know what they did wrong, why it's wrong, and what the future consequences are of repeating the same action. Time out is a great way to have a cool down period for kids.

Punishments should be meted out when kids know they've done something wrong and what it is. As parents, we often get stressed out, and the limits of what we allow our kids to get away with get reduced drastically. We end up punishing them because we are stressed or angry and not because they did something wrong. If he jumped on the couch five times and goes into time out on the sixth, even though you never told him to stop after the first five times, is it fair? Only if he knows well that jumping on the couch is punishable by time out. When a child gets punished because their parent is upset, what does that teach them? "I'm in trouble because Mom is mad", not "I'm in trouble because I did something I shouldn't have done."

You don't just let them fight it out when they both want a toy. Survival of the fittest or rule of the strong is fine if we're dogs or monkeys. We aren't! It teaches kids that they can have what they want if they are stronger than others. A great motto for a tyrant, a dictator, or a bully. Figure out who had it first, and make the other wait for a few minutes. Most of the time, one or the other will lose interest in the toy, and the conflict is over. Communicating their wants using words with the child that has the toy and not force might be a good habit to get into!

Play fighting is great between daddy and kids, but when that's the only way they know how to play, and other kids start getting hurt, it's a problem. When kids don't know when or how to turn it off, it's a problem. When daddy says it's alright, because it doesn't hurt him when his little boy hits him, he needs to realize that his 'tough' attitude might not be shared by the one year old baby that may be the next target. Doing nothing or encouraging violence by reciprocity makes it seem ok, and if it's ok to hit daddy, then why isn't it ok to hit other kids?

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