Crying and venting sometimes feel necessary in order to release negative feelings; however, it is important that your child not allow a bully to witness those tears. Finding a private place to cry helps you to NOT become a target for a potential bully.
People cry for all kinds of reasons. It started when we were just newly born. Babies cried when they needed to be fed, when they needed their diapers changed, when they were frightened or lonely and needed to be cuddled, and when they wanted the attention of their caregivers. As they grew older, they learned other methods of communication. As they learned alternative ways to get their message across, crying was simply one tool in their tool box of how to communicate their needs to others. Eventually, little ones even learned that crying sometimes garnered them negative attention rather than positive attention. Many a child has been intimidated into stifling their tears when hearing their exasperated parent state, “I’ll give you something to cry for.”
Dogs, bees, hornets, and other creatures can smell our fear
Many victims of bullying do not realize that tears, rather than eliciting sympathy from their perpetrators, act as a catalyst to provoke further and extensive bullying-type behavior. This is similar to the way that dogs react when we feel fearful around them. They can literally smell our fear. This, combined with our negative body language, can provoke a normally placid dog into attack-mode.
As David Stewart explains, the author of The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple: God’s Love Manifest In Molecules, that people who are afraid of bees and hornets often get stung because we secrete traces of formic acid in our sweat when we feel scared. The author states this is “because formic acid acts like an alarm pheromone to certain stinging insects and drives them into an attack frenzy to protect their territory.”
Gene Stratton Porter, offers a solution to this in her 1921 book entitled Her Father’s Daughter. The main character, Linda, teaching desert safety to her new friend Donald, states, “A man is safe to make his way anywhere he wanted to go, if he started his journey by recognizing a blood brotherhood with anything living he would meet on the way.” She gives the example that Enos Mills, a snow inspector of Colorado, was able to travel “the crest of the Rockies from one end of the state to the other without a gun or any means of self-defense.” The key is that you must maintain “sufficient self-control that no odor of fear emanated.”
New scientific research reveals that people can smell fear too
Of more concern, when it comes to bullies, is the fact that new scientific research is revealing that people can also smell fear, James Randerson, the author of one related article, states, “People can unconsciously detect whether someone is stressed or scared by smelling a chemical pheromone released in their sweat. … The research suggests that, like many animal species, humans can detect and subconsciously respond to pheromones released by other people.”
How do you keep from broadcasting fear signals?
So, how do you control those fear signals that we sometimes emit when we feel intimidated or scared?
The Bible states in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
That probably sounds like that is easier to say than to actually do when you are facing a bully. It really boils down to the focus of your attention. This is beautifully demonstrated by Victor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning. He states, “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
For additional insights on controlling the fear signals you send out, you might find it helpful to read the article called “Fight or flight instincts.” A link will be included at the end of this article.
It is vital to not show fear or cry around a bully
It is vital NOT to show fear around the bully. Some of the more obvious ways that bullies detect fear is that we slump rather than using good posture, we look at our feet or away from his or her eyes rather than making eye contact, we forget to take deep, calming breaths, and we whine or cry rather than smiling with confidence.
There are times when we all feel the need to cry. There is nothing wrong with crying. It is much healthier to vent and allow our tears out rather than keeping our negative feelings inside until we implode in some manner. HOWEVER, it is of utmost importance to NEVER allow a bully to see you cry as it is a surefire sign that he or she is waging a successful campaign against you.
The story of a first-grade girl and a friend transformed into a bully
Have you ever had a friend you trusted begin to bully you? Did it shock you? Did it scar you? Did you find a way to forgive, forget, and resume your friendship or did your friendship come to an end?
One girl experienced her first bully when she was in the first grade. She probably would have been able to handle it better if it had been some kid she disliked; however, that wasn’t the case. Instead, it was a girl she perceived as being her best friend.
We’ll call this girl Little Y, as in “Why did this have to happen to me?” We’ll call the friend who displayed bullying-type behavior FF for Former Friend.
A teacher asked Little Y to pass out workbooks. Little Y was so proud to be the one selected. She failed to notice that her best friend FF was feeling needy and jealous of not being the one chosen for this great honor. Little Y placed workbooks successfully on desk after desk. When she finally got to FF’s desk, she attempted to do the same. FF told her, “No, hand me the workbook so I can place it on my own desk.”
Little Y was feeling rather self-important and stubborn. It suddenly felt imperative that she must place FF’s workbook on her desk as the teacher had directed. She made a couple of unsuccessful attempts. Both girls became thoroughly embroiled in this power play. When FF did not manage to grab the workbook from Little Y’s hands, she abruptly climbed on top of her desk and draped her body across it. She probably was thinking, “Now you’ll have to hand me my workbook because you can’t reach my desk.”
Little Y, on the other hand, was probably thinking, “Well, I can’t put her workbook on her desk; however, I can place her workbook on her back.” She proceeded to do that very thing.
FF was so incensed that she leaped off her desk and shoved Little Y into the wall. Little Y was so shocked and hurt by this action that she burst into tears. The teacher rushed over. Reprimands followed. That was the end of the friendship of Little Y and FF.
Also, it was like the dam had burst. From that time forward, Little Y cried easily and often when kids displayed any form of bullying-type behavior toward her. This continued through the rest of first grade and for the next year or two.
Starting in second grade, two playground bullies discovered her compulsion to cry. That was all the incentive they needed to punch her in the stomach almost on a daily basis knowing that they would receive the reward of her tears. It was not until Little Y learned to force herself not to cry, no matter how much it hurt, that those bullies no longer felt empowered and rewarded. Instead, she managed to deprive them of that adrenaline rush feeling of making her cry. She even managed to get herself to giggle like the punch tickled. After that, they became so bored that they stopped bullying her altogether.
This is another method of utilizing that fight or flight instinct. Little Y had more than two years experience in realizing that giving into the flight instinct by crying did not work with those two bullies. She did not have the physical strength to fight them off. So she had to finally learn to self-mentor herself so that she could fight her compulsion to cry. Once she finally demonstrated the courage to no longer cry in front of those two bullies, they no longer felt motivated to continue to pursue her.
The interaction between a bully and a victim of bullying is a bit similar to a cat and mouse. A mouse runs. The cat feels the compulsive need to pursue the mouse. A victim of bullying cries. The bully feels the compulsive need to continue his or her practice of inflicting bullying-type behavior on this tearful victim.
The moral is, no matter what, do NOT let the bully see you cry.
Please note: The story of Little Y and FF is a true story. Little Y’s experience happened to the author of this article when she was a young girl back in the 1960s.
So if you feel the need to cry, where can you do it?
So if you need to cry, where can you do it? You could cry in the school bathroom. You could wait until you get home and cry in the solitude of your room. You can cry in the office of someone trained like a guidance counselor who can guide you to deal with these bullies in a more positive manner. You can cry around trusted family members and friends.
What we can learn from alpha, beta, and omega wolves
Watch documentaries about wolf packs. The Naturalists who work at Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport, Tennessee, explain that all wolves either have the rank of being an Alpha Wolf, a Beta Wolf, or the undesirable designation of being the Omega Wolf. As the author of Wolf Country.net describes, the poor Omega Wolf is the one who is the main recipient of all bullying-type behavior. The author states that “rank order is established and maintained through a series of ritualized fights and posturing best described as ritual bluffing. Wolves prefer psychological warfare to physical confrontations, meaning that high-ranking status is based more on personality or attitude than on size or physical strength.” Some of the ways that Omega Wolves remain the lowest in rank is that they maintain their submissive-type behaviors rather than exert themselves to try to better their status.
Fortunately, we can couple our superior brains with the knowledge we gain from learning the techniques of not allowing ourselves to be perceived as being like the Omega Wolf of the classroom or school playground. Use the tips you learn in this article series and from other Conflict Resolution specialists to practice ways to not be a target for bullies. Remembering to NOT allow a bully see you cry is one of the key techniques you can try.
A fun activity for parent and child
To further reinforce the importance of using good posture, play these two songs about bullies. Learn the songs and sing them together. Practice the skills indicated in the songs to make your child much more bully-proof. Here’s the links:
1. Click this link for “Anti-Bullying song for kids #1: My Bully Buster Song” on rootshed.com
2. Click this link for Another Bully Buster Song on YouTube. (Song is embedded within this article.)
Articles relevant to this article:
1. You might want to watch this slideshow with your child called “Lion and Tiger Bully Ruby Raccoon.” Lion and Tiger punch Ruby Raccoon in the stomach almost every day. She cries each and every time. With the help of her big brother and some Balloon Kids, Ruby finds a way to make Lion and Tiger never bully her again. What’s her secret?
2. Read rootshed.com article called “Fight or flight instincts.” What are fight or flight instincts? Every time one feels fear, the natural impulse is to quickly weigh options and go in one direction or another. It is totally one’s choice which point on the continuum of Fight or Flight we will act or react.
Now that your child knows that practicing deep breathing can help him or her achieve a happier life now and in the long run, it may feel like a worthier activity to practice and perfect.
Please note: This article was originally posted in 2009 under the former publishing tool. When it was discovered that it had some missing links and videos, etc., I edited it and re-published it as you see above.
Return to Hub page for “Avoid Bullying with these 12 tips”
- The Chemistry Of Essential Oils Made Simple: God’s Love Manifest In Molecules by David Stewart
- Porter, Gene Stratton. (1921). Her Father’s Daughter, pp. 138-140. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
- You really can smell fear, say scientists by James Randerson
- Humans really can smell fear
- John 14:27
- Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl
- Wolf Country.net – The Wolf Pack
- Wolf Park.org – Frequently Asked Questions About Wolves
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