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Conflict is Normal, Bullying is Not

By Karen Williams, LIMHP April 27, 2012 Posted in: Wellness

I had many great suggestions this week regarding what to blog about. For those who recommended I blog about grief and loss, PTSD, marital struggles, and other topics I give you a big thank you! I will do my best to write on those topics in the near future. The topic of bullying, however, came up quite a bit this week - so that’s where this blog is headed.

Conflict, as most of us know, is a normal part of life. As adults, we are often faced with various frustrations and disappointments, and have hopefully learned how to deal with others and ourselves when in conflict. Conflict does not have to be aggressive, abusive, or necessarily harmful. Conflict can lead to new awarenesses, increased self understanding and new opportunities to collaborate and cooperate differently with others. Conflicts for our kids may show up when they are resistant to learning how to share, taking on new chores at home, or learning to deal with disappointments. As healthy adults, we had to learn how to figure this stuff out when we were kids in order to prepare well for adulthood – and hopefully we did. It’s a necessary part of becoming fully human to learn effective ways to deal with conflict.

Bullying, on the other hand, is a whole different set of circumstances. I ran into a good website called This site offers some really clear points to describe bullying as:

  • Intentional – one child verbally or physically intends to hurt another child.
  • Repetitive – it happens again and again.
  • Hurtful – this can be verbal or physical.
  • Imbalance of power – size, strength, social status.

This same website also discusses cyberbullying. Using the same four points mentioned above, cyberbullying is done through social media (Facebook, texting, chat rooms, emailing). While the bullying behaviors often start at school, they can spill over into social media sites pretty quickly.

If you determine your child is being bullied, what can you do? WebMD recommends teaching our kids to speak up and tell the bully to stop – even having our kids practice saying, "Stop" in a "calm, strong voice" a few times so they get the hang of it. WebMD also suggests teaching our children that it’s okay to walk away from the bully. They don’t have to stand there and take it. Lastly, WebMD recommends the child find an adult to step in and stop the bullying. We can also teach our kids to go for help if they see another child being bullied

If the bullying is happening online, recommends parents block the communication, delete the messages without opening them or reading them, and even report the bully to the website or internet provider.

There are things we can do, and perhaps simply paying attention and becoming aware of the bullying is the first step. This requires parents to be engaged in their children’s lives, and be aware of what’s going on. In short, educating and protecting our kids so they can become responsible adults is a big job - but that’s what we signed up to do when we became parents.

There may be other ways we can help our kids deal with bullying that I haven’t mentioned. If you have dealt with this issue, I would appreciate hearing from you. Your insight or information could really help someone else.

Have a good week everyone! Take care.

Karen Williams, LIMHP
Karen Williams, LIMHP

Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.

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