Whenever our daughter was bullied she would invariably come home upset and tell us or sometimes her upset would become obvious to us after a while, when we took the time to Really Listen!
It was always upsetting to see her so distressed, usually she felt very lonely having been excluded or she was confused and frustrated as to why she was constantly called names and verbally abused. But either way we could comfort her and reassure her that the bullying was not about her but always about the bullies.
However, it was not so easy to offer support when our son experienced bullying simply because you can’t help a child who is being bullied, if you don’t know about it.
For a long time, our son kept the bullying to himself and kept the upset deep inside. I think our son did not want to add to our worries by sharing the difficulty he was having. I also think another contributing factor to his silence, was social norms. These powerful messages or ways of behaving which are normalised within a society or culture are very powerful and from a young age, boys are conditioned to be tough, be manly, don’t be a cry-baby, a tell-tale, or “a grass,” running with the story to parents or teachers and above all, they are bombarded with the message that whatever you do… don’t cry!
If you’d like an excellent insight into bullying I highly recommend you visit Weeping Pines and read Parikhit’s post which shares his experience of bullying… Boys dont Cry
If you suspect your son is being bullied, discuss bullying in general while having dinner together. Point out that asking for help means being strong not weak. An analogy might be helpful such as saying: When you play hurling you don’t do everything alone – so it’s important to have a team around you in life too! It might also help to compare asking for help to being similar to training: A good sportsman needs to practice the things he is not good at or things that are new for him, so asking for help also takes practice.
Have you or your child been bullied? If so did cultural and social norms play a part in maintaining your distress?
Let’s get a conversation going about bullying! Let’s break down the silence around bullying and change some out-dated social and culturally accepted norms.
Le grà (with love),
Mindfully Marie xx