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Bully Thoughts

I think we should move away from using the word “bullies” with our children. The term is a label, which sets kids up for failure. To say just because someone made bad choices and bullied another person they are a “bully” means that you’re creating an identity for that child before they have a chance to grow up and learn. Nothing in a child’s life should ever be a definitive thing (with the exception of some learning disabilities).

The point of childhood is to learn from mistakes and grow into a responsible adult. If we call someone a bully we are stunting that child of his or her opportunity for growth. We are also creating a society of “us versus them.”

The reality is most kids will try out different roles from time-to-time to see what works for them and to determine who they are.  Most kids will get picked on at some point, those same kids will be unkind to others and the same kids will be bystanders at some point in their childhood.

Bullying someone does not make you a “bully” forever, or at least in my clinical opinion I do not think it should. What ever happened to learning from mistakes, not passing judgments on others, giving second chances etc.? We cannot box a child into a label like “bully.”

We also have to be careful when we use the term “bullying.”  In our day and age people immediately concur that if a person bullies they should be identified as a bully.  I have heard educators say, “we don’t call children bullies, but we do use the term bullying.” The problem is the kids then turn around and conclude that the one doing the bullying is in fact a bully, and they go home and relate to their parents that “so and so” is a bully.

What is a bully anyway? A bully is merely a person who is unkind to someone else repeatedly. So instead of putting our only focus on what to do if you’re bullied or what to do if you witness bullying shouldn’t we also teach children how to positively engage with each other?  Shouldn’t we be teaching caregivers how to empower a child’s sense of self-worth, their ability to cope with emotions, and to have empathy? I believe so.


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