I know it’s a bit of a risk to say, but bullies and their victims have some similarities. At least that’s what a recent study completed by researchers from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg suggests. The researchers obtained data from the World Health Organization who had interviewed approximately 3,000 adolescents from various countries. Specifically, the researchers used data from the United States (an individualistic society), Greece (a collectivist society), and Germany (which is between individualistic and collectivistic). In each of these countries, both victims of bullying and the perpetrators of bullying had several things in common.
- They were both more likely to use alcohol and tobacco.
- They were both more likely to have somatic complaints like stomach pain, back pain, and headaches.
- They were both more likely to suffer from depression.
- They both exhibited social difficulties. For instance, they both described difficulty talking to friends or peers and they both described feeling a lack of support in their social environment.
I find it fascinating that these two groups suffer similar pain. Why do I bring this up to families? Because families can help reduce bullying by giving their children the emotional resources both groups need to live healthier, “bully-free lives.” Here are a few of those resources.
- Develop a positive relationship with your children. Guide and discipline your children in love and grace (Do You Parent with a Club or a Staff?). Don’t bully them into obedience. Remember, relationships rule.
- Teach your children healthy social skills. Skills like politeness and respect for others carry great power. Model and practice politeness in your family.
- Teach your children healthy emotional management skills. Learning “emotional intelligence” is crucial for anyone’s success. So, teach your children to label their emotions and use the energy aroused by their emotion to address healthy priorities in a healthy, respectful manner. (Here are 6 Tips to Make Your Children’s Emotions Your Friend. )
- Provide opportunities for your children to learn kindness If You Really Want Happy Kids, kindness is essential. Nurture kindness in your children by practicing kindness IN your family and AS a family. Volunteer together.
- Create a home environment filled with gratitude, encouragement, and honor. Honor one another enough to verbalize gratitude and encouragement to each family member every day. Doing so will help each person develop a mindset of looking for things they are grateful for in others. As you show gratitude and encouragement, your children will follow suit.
Five things you can do to prevent bullying. It may not end bullying completely But, if enough families develop the habits described above, we might just change they world!