What to Do When the Bully Wins
Even though bullying is getting more attention from media and schools in recent years, as it should, the fact is that bullies have always existed. There have always been those people who feel the need to be rude, mean, and spend their lives trying to hurt others. There are moments when you see small victories with a bully getting justified punishment, but there are countless other times when a bully seems to win and get away scot-free.
Just as the ways in which bullies choose to harass their victims have changed, so have our approaches to dealing with bullies. If you talk to some people, they will tell you how they dealt with a bully “back in the day.” It seems that a punch to the face or a lunchbox upside the head silenced many bullies, according to these stories.
Today, children are instructed to more diplomatically (and less violently) approach a bully by telling a teacher or trusted adult and allowing the school or parents to handle the situation.
In these situations, though, oftentimes a child is left feeling as if nothing happened to the bully—the child was hurt deeply, but all the bully had to do was write an apology note. “It’s so not fair!” is cried far too many times by these children victimized by a bully.
Well, kids, life is not fair.
This phrase is tossed around quite frequently and seems crass; but when it comes to bullying, this is the hard truth that must be faced. There is nothing fair about being called a hurtful name, there is nothing fair about being punched when you’re just waiting in line, there is nothing fair about the mean texts—and there really isn’t much more to it than that. No, it’s not fair, but it is a child’s response to this that can make it a positive or negative life experience.
When it comes to your children being bullied, it is important they realize that life will often deal blows which they cannot justify or vindicate. As gloomy as that may seem initially, equipping your child with this knowledge enables them to grow stronger from each occurrence.
As an example, if a bully makes fun of your child’s weight, there is no cause for it. There is no reason for it. There is no explaining this away. Those actions are mean and hurtful, but children must learn how to move on from it. As a parent, you can turn this into an opportunity to build self-confidence in your child and to develop compassion for whatever is occurring in the bully’s life to make him feel the need to belittle others to make himself feel better.
Here are a few truths to discuss with your kids to breathe life back into them after being crushed by a bully.
Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true.
This is a hard concept for even adults to believe themselves, but when a bully spreads rumors about you or speaks rudely to your face, it doesn’t make what they are saying true. How you conduct yourself while interacting with your peers and within your social circles will dictate what others think of you. If you act and live your life every day in a way that others can see the true you, then you won’t need to worry about what anyone else says.
Let your life speak for itself and let the bully look like a liar. That will make you the winner.
You don’t have to put up with being physically hurt.
This is a touchy subject, as parents differ in how they want their children to handle a situation in which a child is getting physically attacked by a bully. However, the truth that you never deserve to be physically hurt does not change. No student should ever go to school scared of what they will have to face that day or be in fear for their safety. You deserve to be protected and go through life in a safe environment.
The unfortunate reality is, though, that there may be times when a bully chooses to use his fists instead of his words. It is important that you discuss with your child how you want them to respond in those situations. Whether it be to fight back to defend themselves, run away, yell for help—empower your child to know they are allowed to defend themselves and to realize they should not put up with being hurt by anyone.
This life lesson will prove valuable not only as it relates to bullies, but also in setting expectations for all types of relationships in the future.
Don’t let them control you by staying upset.
A bully wins when you allow them to, and you allow them by granting control over how you feel about yourself and how you live your life. If you stay upset over their actions and do not forgive and move on, you will continue to be a victim of their bullying. Wipe away your tears, take a deep breath, and then break the chains of control by getting back to being the amazing you that you are meant to be.
Even if a bully doesn’t receive punishment from whomever you feel they should, that doesn’t mean they win. You have the power to make them lose by becoming stronger and more confident in spite of their attempts to make you feel otherwise.
By having these conversations with your children, they will hopefully feel stronger when it comes to easing the pain inflicted by a bully and overcoming all of the unfairness of life.
All this said, though, there are times when bullying is so extreme that your child’s life is in danger. Whether it be from imminent physical harm or from emotional damage being levied and putting your child at risk of self-harm, there are bullying scenarios where urgent and drastic action must be taken. However, if appropriate measures are not being taken to protect your child from this and the bully is “winning,” you must remove your child from the situation and seek professional help if necessary to heal the emotional damage done.
Many students have found that online learning has been a way to extract themselves from destructive and toxic bullying environments, giving them a chance to heal and continue their education without having to go to school in fear every day.
Whatever the case may be, bullying is a real and dangerous threat to students. It is a priority for parents and educators to do all within their power to train children in appropriate responses to bullies, so as to turn victimhood into victory, even when the bully seems to have won.
Letise Dennis is a writer for Learning Liftoff. She has enjoyed writing since childhood, but has spent her most recent professional years writing website content and articles relating to her passion of fitness and nutrition. Having grown up in the south, she attended George Mason University and earned a degree in Communication, with a focus on interpersonal and business communication. After graduation, she began her career at a national nonprofit organization and has been living in Northern Virginia since. When not writing for Learning Liftoff, she spends her time with her husband and three kids enjoying sports and the outdoors.