Now, more than ever, it is necessary, urgent, to teach our children that respect and kindness trump bullying. We have entered an election year when politicians think it is permissible to belittle one another with cruel mockery and personal insults. It seems rare to hear anyone stand up and say what I have witnessed in my 35 years as a clinical psychologist: that name-calling and rants against peoples character and appearance hurts and destroys.
How do we expect children to respect one another and show lovingkindness when the politicians who wish to be leaders and role models are vicious to one another? I am certain that, when the name-calling makes the news, most of us are transported back to their early days in elementary or middle school when we were dealing with bullies who tried to make our lives miserable. How did we manage the cruelty? Some of us didn't. Some of us managed to get through it with the hope that it would disappear as we got older. Most of us are still haunted by the memories that surface when we turn on the news and hear the politicians making fun of peoples' appearances and trading verbal insults.
Studies have shown that children subjected to repeated bullying have lower self-esteem, and are more likely to develop anxiety and depression.
We must push back against the meanness. We must urge the politicians to stop setting poor examples for our children. If we want kind, well-adjusted children with their self-esteem intact, we must also show kindness and respect for one another. And that goes not only for the politicians but for all of those individuals who think nothing of tossing out cruel, hurtful comments. This is often seen on the internet. The anonymity of the net allows people to feel that they can say anything they wish about others, without considering the sometimes dire consequences for those affected. If all of us do not pay attention to this now, there will be a huge price to pay later.
Rigby, K. (2003). Consequences of bullying in schools. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48,583-590.10. Slee, P. T. (1994). Situational and interpersonal correlates of anxiety associated with peer victimization. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 25,
Slee, P. T. (1994). Situational and interpersonal correlates of anxiety associated with peer victimization. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 25, 91-107. doi: 10.1007/BF02253289
Swearer, S. M., Siebecker, A. B., Johnsen-Frerichs, L. A. & Wang, C. (2010). Assessment of bullying/victimization: The problem of comparability across studies. In S. R. Jimerson, S. M. Swearer and D. L. Espelage, (Eds.), Handbook of bullying in schools: An international perspective (pp. 305-328).New York, NY: Routledge.
Jan 18, 2016, 1:56 PM
Social media can be a useful tool, helping people connect with friends from the past, sharing information, and updating people on one's recent experiences. But online connections can also camoflage the importance of developing and nurturing real relationships. And for those who have difficulty with social skills, it can fool people into believing they have a large number of friends, while enduring the pain of loneliness and isolation.Starting as early as pre-school, the emphasis is on the development of social relationships and nurturing social skills, so that as one negotiates the elementary, middle, and high school years, one begins to form deep and meaningful friendships.
In my clinical work, I meet many people who are “connected”, spending numerous hours on phone, tablet and computers. But most of these people are still left longing for genuine human contact. Often, they do not consciously realize how much is lost through online connection. Approximately 80% of our communication is non-verbal. The best emojis do not make up for tone of voice, a certain look or a gentle touch.
All of us try to make connections. We all want to get along with work colleagues. We want closeness with family. We want people we can share our thoughts with and with whom we can have positive experiences. What we need to let our children know is it is not the number of friends we acquire, but rather the qualities in the people we call our friends.We look for attributes in people. It takes time and effort to nurture close and lasting friendships. We select our friends with tremendous care. Some may be there for us more than others. We need to let our children know that all they need are a few people who care, that the number is not important, but the qualities do matter.
Feb 17, 2016, 9:58 AM
We are human. Humans make mistakes. We learn, even as children, from our mistakes so that hopefully we dont repeat them. We make bad choices, say hurtful things from time to time, don’t always think for ourselves and follow the crowd, but most of us know the difference between right and wrong. The people who can’t distinguish between right and wrong, who cant step back and evaluate their part, are the ones with which we need to be very concerned.
A good many of us are acutely aware of the mistakes we make and can also be our harshest critics. Not only do we make some bad choices, but we make ourselves feel terrible about making them. Often, this can be a consequence of harsh parenting during childhood and sometimes we just come about this naturally due to temperament with which we are born. In my clinical practice, I see this all too often- people are quick to berate themselves for mistakes or falling short of expectations of self or others. It is a much more challenging task to view ourselves with understanding and compassion rather than self-hatred. We must learn to be empathic with ourselves so that we may learn from our shortcomings and therefore grow and become the selves we aspire to. Understanding and empathy promotes growth. Derision and anger only destroy our progress.
Most of us need to learn to forgive ourselves after doing something unacceptable. We need to learn that we are not bad, that one can do something wrong and not turn into a bad person. By accepting ourselves, we are accepting the good AND the bad parts. When we make a mistake, it doesnt make us all bad. Feeling badly helps us see different sides of ourselves, that we are not perfect.
We make mistakes, we learn, we grow. Forgiving oneself takes courage and promotes healing. As Bill Gates said: it is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.
Apr 16, 2016, 5:02 PM