What's the difference between bullying and getting teased? I don't think anyone in this world could tell you that they've never been picked but I believe bullying is another subject entirely. To me, bullying is a reoccurring, relentless act which is extremely harmful to the ego of the person receiving the treatment. However, "getting picked on" is a somewhat normal occurrence because children go through different stages of life where they struggle with communicating their needs and feelings effectively. Bullying is such a sensitive topic that I am treading carefully as to not seem as though bullying should not be taken seriously. However, I do want to share my thoughts about preventing bullying vs. teasing.
So, are we teaching our children the difference between bullying and occasional teasing? Are we giving them proper coping skills to handle these situations effectively? Are we creating a generation of children that believe that getting picked on is bullying and therefore encouraging our kids to look to parents and teachers to address the issue instead of confronting the situation themselves?
Almost every day I hear more stories on the news about bullying. Today I was watching Good Morning America and saw a segment about a woman who paid for her daughter to have reconstructive ear surgery because she didn't want her daughter to be "bullied" about the size of her ears. Have we gone to far in our obsession about bullying? I'm concerned that this child will not have positive self esteem and will eventually find something else that she feels makes her less than everyone else.
There will always be bullies and mean people in this world. Let's face it! However, serious bullying has become a major problem in our schools and communities and has had devastating effects on innocent children. It is not something to be taken lightly. But perhaps we are doing our children a disservice by not defining the difference between bullying and teasing. If we guard our children too much from difficult people than they will not learn coping skills for handing these situations as an adult.
It scares me when parents will do anything to avoid confrontation and then pass this trait on to their children. If we learn to love ourselves completely (no matter what we look like) than we will be happier and more resilient as children and as adults.
Here are some ways we can help our children learn build coping skills when encountering teasing. Using these strategies can even prevent teasing from escalating into being bullied.
Check out this awesome segment on Dateline: