Top 9 Mistakes Parents Make When It Comes to Bullying


 

Sensei Harrison Huff

The Bully Proof Sensei™


 

Disclaimer

 

I hate the fact that we have become so sissified and litigious that I have to put this in here, but my attorney, Thorton G. Suesalot,  about had a heart attack when I told him I DID NOT have a disclaimer in the first version of this work.  So here it is…

 The author, his publisher, representatives, companies et.al. are in no way, shape or form recommending or condoning the use of violence, martial arts or any other physical means, in any way, at any time.

 Neither the author, publisher, representatives, companies, et. al. assumes responsibility for the use or misuse of any information and techniques contained in this book.

 Any injuries, emotionally, physically or otherwise, resulting from the reader attempting to perform/use any of this information are the sole responsibility and fault of the reader.

 Reader assumes all risk when using any of the information contained in this work.

 

How We Got Here & What to Do About It…

Dear Parent & Friend,

 If you are reading this report, then you are the parent of a child who is being bullied and you are searching for answers.

 If you are like the thousands and thousands of people I have worked with over the past (almost) twenty years, then you are probably frustrated, too.

 You are frustrated because you have made a shocking discovery – everything you were taught growing up as a child, everything the schools are teaching, everything you have read or a well-meaning friend has told you when it comes to bullying – quite frankly, DOES NOT WORK!

 The sad truth is, what we were taught about bullying – and what the schools, parents, teachers and others are STILL trying to teach – hasn’t worked since the Seventies.

 Why?

Because culturally, everything has changed.

 DISCLAIMER:  The following is not an endorsement of any lifestyle, religion, politics, return to the past or anything else that may get someone’s undies in a bundle.  It is my observation based on personal experience, working with thousands of people and statistics on bullying.

 I am a former U.S. Marine, so my B.S. Detector is always pegged on high and my political correctness glands were surgically removed, so you will find me blunt, abrasive, candid, irreverent and any other adjective you can think of that would describe someone who says what he means, and means what he says.

 You will NOT have to “read between the lines” to get my message.  But, when I say something that upsets you (and I almost certainly will), please keep in mind that there is probably a kernel of truth to it – which is why it pissed you off – and to focus on the message, not the messenger.

 Almost all of what I say in this report you are not going to LIKE – half the time,  much I what I have to say I don’t like; whether or not you and I like it has no bearing on whether or not it is TRUE.

 Up to the Seventies, the “Leave It to Beaver” traditional family unit was the default model for most families.

 Traditional values were still taught and practiced at home, in school and at work.  Children could be punished at school with spankings; entire neighborhoods looked after each other’s kids.

 If a kid did something wrong or was picking on another kid, every parent on the block would spank his butt on his way home, then call his parents to let him know what the kid did, so he could get another spanking.

 Children did NOT have cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, text messaging and four hundred and fifty channels of television, all being used and/or played during dinner.

 Kids had a Mom at home while Dad worked.  There was always someone there to give the child confidence, security and, when needed, a swift kick in the rear-endus.

Not so anymore.

 Kids now are raised on television, the Internet and video games.  Both parents are usually working, so unless there is family living with them, like grandparents (another tradition that was good for families that is now almost extinct), someone other than a family member is raising the kids during the week.

 Children are in constant state of stimulus, via the Internet, laptops, DS3, PS3, Xbox, texting and cell phone calls.  (Why any child is sending and receiving texts and/or phone calls – during SCHOOL – is still beyond me.)

And, because of all the time spent “virtually”, kids today are not being socialized properly.  More importantly, they are NOT learning empathy.  They literally are emotionally “stunted” when it comes to social interactions, particularly ones that involve confrontation, fear and pain.

 With all these changes culturally, children have changed.  But, the information and teachings about bullying and how to handle has not.

It used to be that the old, traditional advice worked – and it did, when you had an environment and culture that operated on certain values and customs.

The world is a much different place now, and the old rules do NOT apply.

That is why I wrote this report and started the website, http://www.bullyproofkids.com.

I was the victim of molestation as a child and then later, the victim of a bully.

I know what it is like to get bullied to the point of depression.  I know what it is like to do everything you are supposed to do – everything you were taught to do – and see it NOT work.

I know what it is like to be so physically afraid that you vomit when you see your attacker.

I also know what it is like to stumble across “The Secret” – the thing that DOES work.  I know what it is like to feel that surge of strength, the burst of self-confidence, the weight of fear lifted off your shoulders forever.

 I know because I have lived it and, over almost two decades, I have helped thousands and thousands of others overcome the “Bullies” in their lives.

 Bullies can take on many forms.  Friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, bosses, companies, vendors, employees…even addictions, abusive relationships and more.

 Bullies are anyone or anything that tries to take your power away from you; that try to gain control or feel better by getting you to act or react in a certain way.

 Our jobs as parents – I am one of those, too – is to recognize the common mistakes parents make with what is being taught about bullying, and then give our child the tools they need to “Take Back Their Power” from the bullies in their lives.

I am honored, humbled and thankful that you trust me to help you on this journey.

 Let’s find out the Top 10 Mistakes Parents Make When It Comes to Bullying.

 To you and your child’s best,

Sensei

 

1.       Tell Your Child to “Turn the Other Cheek”

 

This one is the biggest load of B.S. there is when it comes to bullying.

While it is a standard that was passed on by well-meaning Sunday school teachers – and to this day teachers, school administrators, Sunday School teachers and parents still cite this one as a “biblical principle” – it needs to be taken in context, both in real-life and from the Bible.

In the Bible, it does say to turn the other cheek.  But, it also says some things in the Old Testament that makes almost everyone destined for a long, hot vacation down under with a guy with red horns that goes by his short name, Luc.  As in Lucifer.

If you take everything in the Old Testament literally, people with tattoos, people who have premarital sex, people who get divorced – the list goes on and on – would all be doomed to Hell.

 In the same chapter of the Bible that talks about “turning the other cheek”, it also says, “If your right hand commits a sin, cut it off.”

 And don’t forget, Jesus was not a pansy.  I seem to remember him taking up a whip and clearing out an entire marketplace of vendors who had taken up in a temple for purposes other than worshipping.

 He kicked all their behinds and threw them out into the street.  With physical force.

 Yes, he did teach to turn the other cheek, but also to “love thy neighbor as you love thyself”, meaning the Golden Rule, treat others like you want to be treated.

 If someone is bullying your kid, teaching him to turn the other cheek and take the abuse is NOT showing love to himself or the bully.

Let’s look at the reality.  The reality is that most bullies today have no empathy; they do not get the fact that they are emotionally hurting or even scarring another person or, if they do get it, they don’t care.

 All they know is that they are having fun doing it.

 I was the guest speaker at an At-Risk Military High School for troubled kids.  These kids were sent to this school as a last resort.  Their parents had decided that their kids were going down the wrong path and this school was their last attempt at turning their child’s life around.

 While speaking there, I asked the kids – over a hundred of them – if they had ever been bullied.  A handful raised their hands.  Then I asked how many of them had bullied someone else…

 Almost ALL of them raised their hands.

 When I asked one teen why he had done it, he simply said, “It was fun scaring them and making them do what I wanted them to do.”

 He said it with no emotion, no regret, no feeling.  His eyes were flat, like a shark’s.

 Turning the other cheek with someone like that is NOT going to make it stop.  It will be seen as a sign of weakness and, just like predators chasing prey in the wild, the sick, lame, lazy and weak at the back of the pack are the ones that are picked off first.

 

2.     Tell Your Child to “Just ignore It and It Will Go Away”

 

As with most problems in life – money problems, marital problems, drinking too much, a problem employee, vendor, etc…they never, ever get better with age.

 Put another way, denial as a strategy…sucks.

 Much like an ostrich thinking that it can stick its head in the sand in the face of danger, teaching your child to just ignore the bully and they will go away is not based in reality.

 To be fair – in some situations, it may work – but let’s ask a better question:  how do we want to teach our children to handle life’s challenges when they come up?

Teaching our children to ignore someone who is physically, verbally, mentally or emotionally abusing them is like telling a woman who is in a physically abusive relationship to just ignore it and he’ll stop.

 There are a ton of reasons why this is a lousy strategy, so let me point out the biggest reason:  just because you are teaching your child to ignore the bully – and he may be doing that – doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t hear and feel what it is the bully is saying or doing.

Your child may appear to be ignoring the bully on the outside, but on the inside, he is being torn apart with hurt, anger, feeling powerless and more – all of which can lead to challenges in life down the road.

 Denial is a lousy strategy.  Teach your child to face his fears – and his challenges – head on.

 

3.     Tell the Teacher/School Counselor/Principle – and Then Leave It Up to Them

 

Teen suicide due to bullying – sometimes referred to as “Bullycide” – has been more prominent in the news over the past few years.

To be fair, we now live in a 24/7, live-streaming, always connected world.  What happens in Toledo can be national news in five minutes or a #1 hit on YouTube within a few hours, so a teen committing suicide can go from a local story to international very quickly.

 That being said, more kids are killing themselves now over bullying then in the past and, in almost every single case I have studied…

 The child, the parents, the friends – sometimes all three – reported and/or contacted “The Authorities”, meaning a teacher, counselor, principle or school system.

When they did, two things happen, both being critical mistakes but one of them falling squarely on us as parents.

First mistake – proper people were informed, but nothing was done and/or nothing changed.

Second mistake – and this is the biggie that almost all parents make – is that after they contacted the authorities, the parents stepped back and left it up to the school to handle.

 Big, big mistake.

 In several cases that recently made national headlines – a boy who hung himself for being called gay and picked on daily, and for a teen girl who had migrated here from Ireland and who hung herself after excessive bullying and cyberbullying – it proved to be a fatal mistake.

 It is such a huge mistake because it is giving away responsibility and authority to something outside you and your child’s control, automatically taking away any sense of power you and your child may have to positively affect the situation.

 Think about it:  how helpless and horrible would you feel if you found yourself in a situation where someone was invading your home and kicking the crap out of you everyday, you report it to the authorities and they talk amongst themselves, never tell you anything other than “they will handle it and don’t do anything”, yet the invasions and attacks continue?

 How long would it take for you to be living in fear, afraid to make any move, and helpless because no one is telling you anything?

 It is no different when you report the bullying the proper people and then do nothing but sit and wait.

 Personally, that idea is a non-starter for me.

I tend to be a bulldog when it comes to getting what I want or getting my way.  “No” is not an answer I like or ever accept the first time.

Part of it is my Marine Corps “Always accomplish the mission training”; some of it is from being self-employed and selling every day of my life, and some of it is from just being ornery and never liking getting told what I could and could not do.

 What has always worked for me is using the system like I was supposed to – and then promptly going up, over, around, under or through it when it was holding me back or not getting me the results I wanted.

If my child was bullied, I would report it to the proper authorities – but there is NO WAY I would stop there.  From there, I would be pushing, convincing, cajoling, coaching, following-up and, if I had to, personally visiting all parties involved – repeatedly – until the situation was 100% resolved to my satisfaction.  Period.  Full Stop.  End of Story.

The more responsibility you take on, the more control you get.  Successful people are successful (and happy) because of the amount of self-discipline, responsibility and control they use in their lives.

 Our kids can learn a lesson from that – especially when it comes to bullying.

 

4.     Tell Your Child “Don’t fight back or stand up for yourself – you’ll get in trouble.”

 

My, how times have changed.

 There used to be a time if you had a problem with someone, you could “step outside and settle it like men”.

 In the Marines, you did not lose a pay grade, sabotage your career and be labeled undesirable if you got into an “Attitude Adjustment Session” with a fellow Marine.

 I remember as a kid that, if someone was causing your trouble, you “turned the other cheek”, then both if you had to but – as Popeye said – after you had “taken all you can stands”, it was up to you to handle your business.

 I read a statistic the other day that said on average, seventy percent (70%) of teachers are threatened with lawsuits – by students.

Kids bring knives, guns and who-knows-what-else to school.  Just last year, a group of teenage girls lured another girl to a house and beat her – for hours.

 Also last year, a Chicago teen was beaten to death – with a piece of a railroad tie.

 These days, if your child does stand up for himself and fight back, he is expelled on the spot from school – even though he was the victim and target – and many times, the bully’s parents sue the kid’s parents who stood up for himself AND the school for suspending their kid.

 My best friend is a counselor in a public school system and he tells me there are specific sections in the school manual that were written and implemented to avoid lawsuits.

 Not because it was the right thing or policy to have.  Not to put the best policies that protects the student and teacher – to avoid lawsuits.

 With how litigious our society is today and with the schools having a Zero Tolerance policy, what are you to do as a parent?

 Simple.

 Do the right thing for you and your child.  Whatever that may be.

 Allowing your child to get beat up, turn the other cheek, be constantly harassed and more will lead to depression or worse; not to mention the emotional scars that are being inflicted.

 It changes your child’s self image to that of a helpless victim.  He feels as if his hands are tied, unable to protect himself or stand up for himself – and this can really screw him up emotionally.

 Don’t believe me that emotional scars cause problems later in life?  Think about the women you know who have terrible relationships with their fathers, or no relationships at all.

 How do they do in the relationship department?  Any issues there?

 Guys are no different.  I know many men who have authority figure issues because of traumatic memories or events involving their fathers or men in positions of power.

 Suffering emotional trauma stays with you, affecting your decisions, philosophies, actions, relationships and more.  Life is challenging enough without your child growing up and going out into the world with an emotional handicap.

 Don’t “tie his hands” and not allow him to save his self-image and self-esteem.

5.      The Sin of All Sins – NOT Backing Up Your Children When They DO Stand Up for Themselves

 

I am often asked when I give speeches, seminars or working with clients one-on-one, “What is the most important thing I can do for my child when he is the victim of a bully?”

 My answer is always this:  “Your child has to know that – no matter what – you love him and will support him; no matter how much trouble he gets in, no matter how unpopular standing up for himself maybe…no matter what.”

 I was taught in the Marines that when you are blessed with the care and feeding of other Marines, you are Papa-san and they are your children – YOU are responsible for everything they do, good and bad.  To quote the leadership manual, “A leader of a unit is responsible for that unit’s actions and the actions of his men.”

 Many times, they DO act like children and you end up being The Dad, bailing their butts out of the fire and them punishing them accordingly so they don’t do it again.

 Story: I was very lucky to have a boss – Master Sergeant John Holtz – during the First Gulf War who showed me by example what it was to be a leader and to look after your men.

 Top Holtz  - (Master Sergeants are called “Top” because they are at the “top” of the food chain in the rank department; they are the senior enlisted men in their fields and even officers defer to their judgment.  Well…the smart officers do) – taught myself and others this leadership rule:

 “Your men are YOUR men.  If they screw up, YOU are the one it is to be reported to and YOU are to handle it.  If they do well, YOU are the one in charge of making sure they are recognized properly and all the proper documentation that goes with it.

 YOU are in charge of getting them to work on time and home on time.  YOU are responsible for their well-being in the field.  YOU are responsible for them understanding the mission and what is expected of them.

 Most of all, YOU are in charge of protecting them.  If one of your Marines screws up, YOU will handle it – but – NO ONE else is allowed to discipline, scold or punish your Marines.  They are YOURS – that is YOUR job and if someone tries to do anything to one of YOUR Marines, you will take it as a personal attack on YOU and YOUR UNIT – and YOU will NOT allow it.”

 Top had a habit of strongly emphasizing the words he was trying to drive home – and in this case, he was driving home the point that when it came to my Marines, it was us against the world.  I will take care of them and protect them, and no one else better try to mess with them.

 But, I was also the one that was going to kick their butt into next week if they screwed up.

 Top Holtz lived and breathed that rule.  Once, I got myself into hot water with some other senior enlisted men that were in my unit.

I had the habit of speaking my mind then (a habit which has gotten worse with age) and gotten on the bad side of these two senior guys that I used to work for.  I didn’t work for them anymore, but it didn’t matter.

 Unfortunately, they had control over the ratings I was given as a Marine and when rating time came around, even though I was outstanding at every part of being a Marine, they came down on me like a ton of bricks in the conduct part of the ratings.

 To be fair, I was a wiseass then; a young stallion filled with piss and vinegar, completely intolerant of people that did not do their best and go one hundred miles an hour.  I had edges that needed polishing for sure, but, I churned out more work than anyone, was always early, always had the best scores on everything and loved the Marine Corps.  Top Holtz was thrilled to have me.

 When I saw the scores I had been given, I was crushed.  Even though my proficiency scores were near perfect, the conduct score was going to kill my career.

 Top Holtz saw the paperwork and came to ask me what happened.  I told him the truth; that I had gotten on the wrong side of both of them, as I had rightfully called them on some decisions and actions they had made that were sub-standard and affecting my job; they told me to watch my attitude – and I called “Shenanigans” and let them have it with both barrels.

 Top grabbed me, my paperwork and told me to follow him.  He marched us into the office of the two men in question, put the paperwork on the desk and asked the two senior men, “WTF?”  (Figure out that one on your own.)

 They both started off rather indignantly, basically telling Top Holtz to “Mind your own business”, to which Top did something that has left a permanent, positive mark on me and that I still bless him for today…

 He jabbed his finger into the chest of one of the senior men and said, “Listen up; Huff is one of the best Marines I have ever had work for me.  His attitude, work ethic and speed he is learning his job at is off the charts.  On top of that, he is MINE now.  That means I look after him and protect him. 

By the looks of you two, he probably scared you with how hard he works and how intense he is, he rubbed you the wrong way and now you are punishing him.

 Maybe if you were worthy of him as a leader, you would keep him challenged and he would respect you.  He certainly doesn’t give me any problems.

 So here’s what is going to happen.  I am going to stand here, you are going to change these marks, I am going to walk them up the chain of command to make them official and you are going to leave Huff the hell alone. Forever.”

 The two seniors stood there, gulped, nodded and said the two sweetest words I have ever heard…

 “Yes, Top.”

I would have walked through walls for Top Holtz after that and now, twenty years after that experience, I have never, ever missed a phone call to Top Holtz every single Marine Corps birthday.

I’d still walk through walls for him – because he backed me up, all the way.

 

6.     Tell Your Child to “Just Avoid the Bully – Run Away if You Have To…”

 

Earlier I mentioned how predators in the wild select their victims – by picking off the sick, lame and lazy at the back of the pack.

 There is something even more powerful than that analogy that I learned when I saw a study done on violent criminals in prison.

 The FBI did a study on violent offenders where they interviewed the criminals to find out exactly how and why they selected their victims.

 The results were shocking – and very revealing.

 They ALL said that they always selected the easiest-looking target.

 They wanted someone who looked weak, afraid; unaware of their surroundings, alone, or just gave off an energy that made them “feel” like a target.  And, they said once they had someone in mind, they would conduct a two-part interview.

 The first part was non-verbal, where they would look at the target and see what the reaction was; did they look away or make eye contact?  Do they look afraid or confident?  Do they stand up straight and strong of do they shrink in on themselves?

 They would approach them and see the reaction.  If the target was across the street, the criminal would cross the street and get on the same path, to see what the target would do.  The look, feel and reactions of the target in the non-verbal interview would determine if the criminal would escalate the attack or not. 

 The next level is the verbal interview. 

 Here they would ask a question, approach and ask the target for help, whatever it took to engage the target, and see the reaction.

 If it was anything other than a look, feeling or action that would cause the criminal to pause, the attack came right after the verbal interaction.

 The #1 thing the criminals said made them decide to attack?  When the target showed fear.

 Running shows fear.  And, just like in the wild, if you run from a predator, their natural reaction is to chase the prey.

 Ignoring the bully is not much different than running, as most people can’t help but show fear when they are trying to “ignore” the bully, especially when the bully has put himself in a position where there is no possible way for the target to not see him.

 If you try to ignore or run from a bully, it is kind of like tying a steak to your butt and running through a lion’s den – it is NOT going to end well.

7.      Tell the Child to “Just Make Friends with the Bully”

 

This piece of advice is actually not bad – but it creates a crime of omission, as it does not tell you what has to happen first.

 Before you can make friends with a bully, he has to respect you.

 And, no bully is going to respect you if you look and act like a target, allowing the bully or anyone else to walk all over you, treat you like garbage and never stand up for yourself.

 If you don’t respect yourself, no one else is going to respect you, either.

 And – how do you get respect from others, particularly bullies?

 You first get some self-respect and then you show the bully you are someone to be respected.  How you do that is up to you as a parent to teach your child, but there are a great many resources to help you at www.bullyproofkids.com and the Bully Proof Brigade.

 Once you have his respect, it is a very wise idea to make friends with the bully.

I once saw a quote that said, “The greatest victory is the conversion of an enemy into a friend.”

 I think that is great advice – but you have to start off from a position of mutual respect.

 

8.     Blaming Your Child for Being Bullied

 

Believe it or not, there are parents out there that blame their child for being picked on and not standing up to the bully.

 I am sure you are not one of those parents, but if you are, brace yourself; I am about to step on an entire shoe store worth of toes – especially yours…

 If your child is getting bullied – it is MORE likely YOUR fault!

 How?

 Is your child a target?  Doe he have bad body language?  Is he fat?  Is he a loner, always by himself?  Does he stand out because he dresses so differently?

 What about friends?  Does he have any and, if so, do they stand out, too?  What about his attitude?  Is he an, “Oh, woe is me…” typical teenager or is he confident, smiling and outgoing?

 In some instances, our kids will be selected as a target of a bully no matter how well we teach our kids not to be victims or how much our kid does to look confident; how LONG our kids remain the target of a bully is OUR responsibility.

 If your kid is the target of a bully – and he isn’t doing anything about it or standing up for himself – what DIDN’T you teach your child?

 A child is only going to do what they have been taught to do or what feels right in a certain situation; if he is being bullied – and he hasn’t been taught the tools to deal with it – then his default mode is going to be to run from it, which we know will only encourage the bully.

 Never, ever blame the child – teach him what to do and help him use the experience to build his self-confidence and self-esteem instead.

 

9.     Let the Child Hide from the World

 

In today’s world of technology, it is very easy for a child to “escape” or be “somebody else” in a virtual world.

 Today’s kids are socially not as adjusted as past generations, all because of technology.

 One of my dearest friends has a teenage son who is now in high school and doing very well.  When he first was starting high school, both his Dad and I were concerned for him.

 While he was a bright boy, he was not socially inclined.  Sports, music, anything that involved physical activity or talking was NOT his thing.

But, he could get online with his friends and play video games for hours…and hours…and hours…

 Luckily, he has discovered that he has a knack for electronics and is pursuing that avenue, which looks like it is going to work out for him.

 I bring this story up because his Dad said to me while we were talking about his son that he wished he had gotten his boy out more, doing more sports, making more friends, doing something where he interacted and communicated more with people.

 He said that because he realized it was very hard for his son to relate to others and, more importantly, it was almost impossible for his son to talk about his feelings; it was almost foreign to him HOW to talk about those kinds of topics.

 This is NOT unusual in today’s world.  As I stated earlier, today’s kids are not learning empathy; they truly do NOT relate or connect with how others may feel or what they are going through.

 And, it’s not because they are diseased or mean-spirited; it is because they are simply NOT being exposed to situations where they are interacting with others on an emotional and social level.  Everything is virtual with limited or no emotional feedback.

For example, if you gang up on a character in a first person shooter video game and wipe him out, you may laugh and think it is funny – because the person you did it to isn’t sitting right next to you, fighting back tears of frustration from being ganged up on.

 Because he isn’t sitting right there, you don’t get the emotional impact of what you are doing; all you see is the fun you are having doing what you have to do to get what you want.

 This creates a person who has no concept of the “Golden Rule”.

 What makes this worse is that someone like this is exactly the type of person that can turn into the bully.  And, when you catch him being the bully and try to explain to him why what he is doing is wrong, he may very well look at you with the look on his face that says, “I have no idea what you are talking about – I don’t get it; what’s the big deal?”

 That situation is the first way kids can hide and actually BECOME someone who will be a bully; the second situation is when a child uses technology to HIDE from bullies.

 A child who is being bullied can turn to technology to hide.  The Internet, video games, Facebook, Twitter, etc…all can be used to hide and escape.

 The kids from Columbine were bullied, and then began isolating themselves in their basements, separating them from the world that was painful to them.

They kept to themselves, even isolating themselves from their own families. 

 When interviewed, their own parents said they had “no idea” what the boys were up to, that they had weapons or that they were emotionally disturbed.

Eventually, their pain manifested itself into one of the worst disasters in our country’s history.

 That event was BEFORE there was the technology we had today, yet the warning signs were there – bullied, emotionally traumatized, isolated themselves and then acted out.

 We don’t want our kids to become bullies or hide from the world.  We want to teach our kids that no matter what life throws at them, they are strong enough to face it, overcome it, and grow from the experience.