DOES PARENTING CONTRIBUTE TO BULLYING?

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How does parenting contribute to bullying?

Bullying is repeated attack which may be physical, verbal, social or emotional by person or persons in place of power (real or perceived) to those who are powerless. Bullying is done with the intention of causing distress.

Bullying includes teasing, use of offensive jokes, insults, constant harassment, name calling, racist remarks, spreading rumors, mimicking, deliberately excluding a person from some activity, damaging someone’s reputation, body shaming, hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, etc.

Parenting contributions are:

Lack of emotional bonds between the parent and the child

John Bowlby puts emphasis on the role of emotionally bonding with children in their early years of infancy and that when proper bonding happens, individuals are able to relate positively later in life.

When proper bonding does not happen (insecure attachments) the growing children appear emotionally detached from the parents and by extension they are detached from the world. Since they have not experienced love, these children do not care for the feelings of others and therefore they can hurt others easily through bullying.

Some of the children who lacked emotional bonding are constantly in a state of doing anything to “buy love”. They work hard trying to please the people they feel need to love them just the same way they learnt to work harder and do everything in order for the parents to accept them. This “people pleasing” attitude attracts the bullying and these children then become victims of bullying.

Parents who use strict/rigid rules with no warmth

This is called authoritarian style of parenting. This style of parenting produces bullies. The parents who use this style of parenting expect obedience without question even when they have not explained the reasons behind the rules. They believe by virtue of being parents, they know what is best for their children and as such, the children need to follow without any discussion.

This kind of parenting leaves children feeling controlled and angry and immediately they get someone to displace this anger to, they do it. The children from such families displace their anger to other vulnerable children as they demand obedience with no excuses. They learn the act of bullying right from their homes.

Neglected and abandoned children

The children who were neglected and abused are likely to turn into bullying others. Neglect and abandonment involve failure to meet physical and emotional needs of children. Children who feel that their parents are uninvolved in their lives are likely to act out their frustration and aggression towards others and in this case they turn out to be the ones who bully others.

Another set of neglected and abandoned children are likely to embrace the victim mentality and feel completely powerless therefore becoming the victims of bullying because they feel incapacitated to do anything about the perceived state of being victims.

Permissive parenting

Children who get everything that they want grow up with the sense of entitlement that is directed towards the other children and the world. Since they do not take “no” for an answer, anyone who says “no” to them deserve punishment and that is how they turn to bullying as a way of punishment directed at those who do not comply.

Child abuse

Children tend to replicate the very behavior they have learnt from their homes. These behaviors learnt whether use of verbal abuse such as name calling, hitting, biting, punching, or demeaning others are forms of bullying. These children may repeat the same behaviors and become the ones that bully others.

Some of the children from abusive homes become so fearful and traumatized anytime someone else repeats any patterns of abuse that they observed in their homes. These children get frightened that they are not able to speak for themselves so they become victims of bullying.

Criticism

The children who were largely criticized lack self-confidence because they grow up believing that something was wrong with them and that is why their parents could not find something good in them. Children who lack confidence become victims of bullying because they are easy to pick on and they have no capacity to protect themselves.

Overprotecting children (enmeshed) families

These families where parents do not allow their children to interact with the other children are slowly raising children who will be victims of bullying. These children live in enclosed spaces and therefore they have not learnt how to interact with others. Over protected children lack social skills and when placed in an environment with other children, they are likely to be picked on and bullied.

Lack of skills

Children who lack life skills such as interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, taking initiative, creative skills, self-care skills (such as feeding, dressing, using the toilet etc) find it very difficult when interacting with children who already have these skills.

These children feel inferior to their peers and this opens up an opportunity to be victims of bullying. Needless to say, adults who lack life skills because they did not acquire them in childhood are likely to be either bullies or victims of bullying.

By Joan Kirera-family therapist. For more visit www.joankirera.com: Facebook: joan kirera, YouTube: joan kirera

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