Forgiveness Counseling: A Positive Approach to Bullying

When your child is bullied, it can be very stressful on what steps to take to support your child and stop bullying. A bullied child can be miserable and would even insist just to stay home to avoid bullies because of fear of what bullies can do to him. According to Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD, “Bullying is a behavior pattern that expresses as harming and humiliating others. Bullies typically seek out those who appear to be more vulnerable than themselves.”

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Increasing numbers of children and teenagers are the victims of bullying. Today, the most prevalent is cyberbullying using electronic communication to bully or to harass someone online. It has become increasingly common among teenagers. For children, they tend to be reluctant to admit to being victims of cyberbullying. “Cyberbullying is just another tactic used to harass and cause emotional pain to an individual,” says DeAnn Harvey, PsyD, HSPP, a clinical child psychologist at Franciscan Health Indianapolis.Harmful bullying behavior can include posting destructive, hurtful, and mean content about someone else causing embarrassment and humiliation. Victims may demonstrate a variety of emotional responses such as developing low self-esteem, being scared, angry, frustrated and depressed.

The seriousness of psychological harm specifically from childhood bullying has caused an increased level of mental distress. Victims had higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, suicide and risk of self-harm, social isolation, and psychotic symptoms among adolescents.

Why Do People Bully?

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Bullies have goals to gain control over the victim that he perceives is more vulnerable. It can be a student seeking power over another student or adults bullying younger people. Bullies come in all ages, sexes and social groups. They have these characteristics behaviors of finding satisfaction from causing harm to others, seeks to dominate other people to look tough, aggressive and ill-tempered, looking for attention and acceptance from friends.

Factors that cause our children to become bullies:

  • Bullies come from a dysfunctional family
  • Bullies can’t regulate their emotions
  • A child abused and treated disrespectfully at home
  • Feeling completely powerless at home
  • Children seeking for love and attention
  • Children overindulged by parents
  • Children who lack empathy

Anyone can be a target for bullying; it can take place anywhere. Some groups like lesbians, bisexuals, gays, with disabilities any also be at an increased risk to get bullied.

Who Gets Bullied?

There are certain groups of individuals who are an easy target of a bully in the school. These include the following:

  • The popular and are getting positive attention in school
  • Those who are submissive and unable to defend themselves
  • A child who is alone or with new friends
  • Children that are bullied for being gay
  • Are perceived as different due to obesity, excessive thinness, wearing glasses, have acne, being new to a school
  • A child with a disability or deformity
  • Religious and racial differences

Forgiveness Counseling

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In 2015, a study was presented that forgiveness is a proven strategy for reducing anger and negative emotions in school bullying. Although the research has never experimented in the school context, most of the respondents agreed that by forgiving the other person or the whole experience of harassment, the process of moving on is easy and the hatred shown in other children is minimized. As Joyce Marter, LCPC, notes “If for no other reason than for yourself, forgive to untether yourself from the negative experiences of the past. Take time to meditate, and give thanks for the wisdom and knowledge gained from your suffering. Practice the mantra, ‘I forgive you and I release you.'”

Therapists recommend that the first step to forgive is to acknowledge one’s imperfect ways. A person who does not recognize his mistakes or personal flaws will have a hard time to forgive others. Be inspired by how others show forgiveness. If you embrace this attitude, it will be easier for you to do the same.

Be empathetic. Getting bullied is hard and painful. Think of other’s situations if you will do the same to others. Violence and anger are a cycle that needs to be stopped. It is easy to do so if you think of the feelings that you are having right now and not continue or instill feelings of revenge by doing the same to others.

Lastly, ask for professional and spiritual guidance if necessary. It is not easy to forgive especially if you have encountered severe traumatic experiences. If it’s challenging on your part, make as well get the support from mental health professionals or spiritual advisers to help you in this process.

Other Ways To Handle Bullying

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Be very sensitive to signs that something is bothering your child. Gently encourage your child to tell you if he’s having trouble in school. Victims are most often reluctant to admit that they are being bullied. Take the necessary action to deal with your child’s situation. Talk to your child’s teacher. Parents might need to request for the bully to undergo mental health evaluation. Aggressive behaviors should not be ignored but addressed. Coach your child with the proper way to deal with bullying. Fighting back is never a solution, seek help from teachers or just walk away. Teach him not to cry or whine; it will only encourage a bully. Teach your child to be more firm, strong and confident. Always remind your child about proper behavior and not to get into trouble at school frequently.