Bullying is emerging to be a very common and serious problem in schools. It is not restricted to big children. It can be there in children as small as 3 years of age. Bullying encompasses any repeated behaviour which disturbs other children enough to feel sad, irritated, scared, embarrassed etc. Examples of bullying would be calling names, teasing, pushing, threatening, snatching, taking over, backbiting, spreading rumours etc. bullying can be done by one person to a group or by a group to one person. An example of the latter one is excluding someone from the group settings and not allowing him/her to play or interact.
While many of the examples above are there in bigger children, there are many bullying actions that are done by very small kids. Like snatching another kid’s toys and not giving back. All kids do such things at some point. What defines normal snatching from a bullying snatching is the dominance of snatching over the entire play and its effect on the child whose toys has been taken. So if a child always takes away other kids’ toys while playing and doesn’t return no matter how hard the other kids cry or plead, then the kid can be seen in the light of being a bully.
How bullying affects the victim?
When a child has been bullied repeatedly, his personality gets affected drastically. On feeling unsupported by anyone, he feels very vulnerable and exposed to the bully. It often leads to a very timid personality in the victim as he loses his self confidence in mingling up out of fear. When bullied harshly, it may also lead to other psychological problems like depression, social phobia, stress, anxiety, suppressed anger etc. The anger which is kept suppressed for a long time may turn explosive or implosive. In both cases, it poses grave danger. In older kids, bullying may lead to addictions, severe depression, eating disorders and/or learning disabilities.
Does it affect the bully too?
Sometimes parents who have an aggressively assertive toddler feel good to have a child who finds his way through, though in a slightly wrong way. They feel this is what is required in today’s world. But they don’t realize when this aggressive assertiveness is encouraged too much, it develops the child into a bully. Some parents might think “so what if the child is a bully? At least he is not at the receiving end!” Is that really so? Does the bully face no problem at all? Well, that’s an interesting question, and very important to understand.
When a child gets into the habit of always having his way with a sense of power dominating over someone, he may:
- Become self-centred and perceive himself to be the centre of the universe. At later and more advanced stage, he may become so narcissistic that he may have delusions and strong need of being a part of everything happening around him.
- Develop dominance as a habit and expect people to cooperate, tolerate and masochistically obey. He may react violently when someone doesn’t dance to his tunes. This may hamper his social, interpersonal relationships, professional life immensely.
- Be unable to tell right from wrong. This may affect his decision making skills, problem solving skills as he has always had his decision influenced by his strong urge to have his way no matter what the situation is. A child, who doesn’t think twice before pushing another child to win the race, will turn into an adult who will not think twice before wrongly maligning his colleagues to get the desired promotion, only to be proved wrong later.
- Develop a sense of entitlement over others’ possessions, rights and space. Inability to hold back, may later develop anti-social tendencies in him, as he wouldn’t have developed the idea of righteous belongingness. He may develop a habit of cheating, lying, stealing etc.
- Become more aggressive. When a child who has grown up bullying others doesn’t get what he wants, he may not know any way to deal with the loss other than rage. His aggressive ways may make him a social outcast or put him in troubles with the law.
So no matter what, parents shouldn’t ignore, let alone encourage, if their child is being a bully. It’s sincerely advised to take care of the matter, when it shows its first sign. Teaching values, patience, tolerance and modelling the same will surely help the child learn what’s right.