As usual, our #ThursdayThoughts post consists of an excerpt from Owen Connolly’s book for fathers entitled “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”. Over the last couple of months we have endeavoured to provide a good mix of advice from the book covering a range of parenting issues and children’s ages. Generally the posts don’t coincide, or are not reflective of, what is happening in the news or on social media, but today is different. Many of you may have seen or heard of the video posted on Facebook of an American boy who has been bullied at school and is sharing his feelings on it, filmed by his mother. Whatever the motives behind the video, the boy’s emotions are real, and have connected with so many people – whether out of sympathy or because they have also experienced bullying. While many steps have been, and are being, taken to address bullying in schools and other places, bullying still occurs and affects many people, especially teenagers. Since Owen has written on this subject in his book, we thought it appropriate to share it today. He has an interesting perspective on the subject for parents. You can read the excerpt below. Please feel free to engage with us about this, or any other posts, via email or through our social media profiles.
If you or someone you know has experienced bullying, please do find someone you trust to talk to about it.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON BULLYING, WHICH IS SUCH AN EPIDEMIC IN IRISH SCHOOLS AT THE MOMENT?
To experts, it has become obvious that bullies usually come from the same emotional platform as the bullied. The difference is that these bullies have learned aggressive behaviour as a means of defending their own sensitivity. These young people recognise the vulnerability and sensitivity of other boys or girls because of their own knowledge of that emotional state. In order to end this type of bullying, it is necessary to sit the two children down together and help them understand that they are similar. The bully needs to learn appropriate assertiveness, just as the bullied child needs to learn assertiveness. The situation must be stopped early so that the bullied child doesn’t become so harassed that they turn into a bully themselves.
The fact that the bully and the bullied are similar may surprise some, but even as adults we are inclined to dislike the character traits displayed in others that are similar to the ones we hate in ourselves. The trait we dislike in ourselves causes us to be fearful as we struggle to keep it hidden and worry that it will be spotted by others. When we see it in others, it can make us angry towards them and ourselves.
If the intimacy needs discussed previously are met in the early development stages, it will keep children from believing that they have to be aggressive in order to protect themselves. If they feel accepted by you, they will know that their sensitivity is not only accepted by you but valued as well. They will have your reassurance that it’s perfectly normal for a child to feel threatened and insecure, and your attention and encouragement will drive these feelings away from the child. Your input will give the child a healthy understanding of his or her own feelings and, as a result, they will have empathy towards others.