Having friends feels good as it gives you allies and a support system. Being a good friend enriches your life even more. Having friends and being a good friend also helps you to NOT become a target for a potential bully.
Just like the often-heard advice that you should never enter a pool without having a swimming buddy, or go hiking without a hiking buddy, or walk outside at night without a trusted companion, it is wisest to hang out with others when on the playground or while at a community center or park. One of the most obvious reasons is that it is always a good idea to have somebody to watch your back, so to speak.
Most bullies are looking for easy targets. There is great truth in the saying that there is strength in numbers.
If you read one of the previous articles about the importance of laughing and smiling instead of crying around bullies, you know about the two years that a young girl we’ll call Little Y (as in “Why is this happening to me?”) was victimized by two playground bullies when she was in the second and third grade. Little Y would tell a teacher. The two bullies would adamantly deny ever having punched her in the stomach. There were no consequences as the teacher never knew who to believe.
Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a greater tendency for the victim to be blamed over the perpetrator?
The only option Little Y was offered was that she should refrain from availing herself of the tempting recess attractions of playground equipment, the nearby woods, and other fun spots. Instead, she should confine herself to playing by herself near where the teachers sat chatting and relaxing. Little Y declined their boring offer. Instead, she took her chances that the two bullies would get their punching over with quickly so she could get back to having fun.
Although somewhat sociable, Little Y was a bit of a loner. It would have been much wiser to curb her tendency to play alone. Then, if those two bullies approached her, one of her companions could have told the teacher that he or she also saw the punch take place. Perhaps the teachers would have been more inclined to believe this child over a kid like Little Y who had the reputation of being a cry baby and a bit of a drama queen. If she had a companion or two, one of those kids could have quietly gone and gotten a teacher to come and actually witness the punch taking place. Then the teacher would finally know Little Y was telling the truth. Additionally, bullies are a little less likely to attack if friends are standing nearby since the victim would no longer be such an easy target.
Please note: The stories of Little Y are true stories. Little Y’s experiences happened to the author of this article when she was a young girl back in the 1960s.
What is the duty of a witness to bullying?
Additionally, as it states in one of the verses of the YouTube video called “Another Bully Buster Song,” it is the duty of the witnesses to report the abuse to a trusted adult.
Someone’s bullied. You’re a witness.
Put a stop to the rudeness.
Don’t be shy. Don’t be scared.
Be the one who really cared.
If the witness or bystander would consider this to be tattling or snitching instead of responsible reporting, at the very least, they could tell the bully it is NOT okay to be a bully.
How do you acquire friends to watch your back?
So how you do acquire these friends to be your allies who will watch your back when bullies approach? Ralph Waldo Emerson states:
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
Whether or not you are a person who embraces Christianity, you may want to ponder how Jesus operated. He reached out to people from all walks of life. He displayed that Christ Consciousness of being kind to everyone he met. That is the way to go about acquiring friends. Be nice to everyone you meet. In other words, practice the Golden Rule.
Little Y and the cutest boy in the sixth grade
Little Y experienced a strange anomaly when she was in sixth grade. The boy who had the reputation of being the cutest boy in her K-6 elementary school sat in the desk immediately in front of her desk. The two of them used to get in trouble from talking too much. They could always find fun topics to discuss. Then during the month of December, Little Y discovered that this boy actually liked her as a girlfriend. Little Y was totally shocked as she was going through one of those awkward stages of wearing braces and having a bad hair cut. Little Y was definitely nowhere close to being the cutest girl in school. It turns out he selected her to like since she was nice to everyone; whereas, some of the prettier girls tended to be rather snobbish.
So what was the strange anomaly? As soon as Little Y discovered that he liked her, she became totally tongue-tied and extremely shy. Even though they sat beside each other at lunch every day for the next several months, she could never think of anything to talk to him about. It didn’t appear to bother him; however, it definitely bothered her. Little Y struggled to come up with viable topics of conversation.
One solution that she did not attempt was to try to ask him lots of questions about his interests, his hobbies, and his childhood. Generally, people love to talk about themselves.
Be a friend by truly listening to and asking questions about the other person
So that is one way to be a friend to people. Ask them questions about themselves. Then, rather than contemplating what you will ask or say next, really listen to their answers. Afterward, you can delve deeper into their response by requesting further clarification. Or perhaps you discovered some common ground in what he or she said. After that person has truly finished with answering your questions without interruption, then you can share about the commonalities you discovered. That should lead to further things that the two of you can discuss.
Some shy people are perceived as being snobs
Sometimes, if you are shy, people perceive your shyness as snobbery. They assume that you don’t want to talk to them instead of that you are simply too shy to talk to them. Does that surprise you to know that?
That was true of Little Y’s mother when she was attending junior high and high school. She went through a period of being excruciatingly shy. One day, she overheard two girls talking about what a snob she was. Little Y’s mother registered that she needed to work hard to overcome her shyness and reach out to others. Eventually, she acquired the reputation of being one of the nicest girls in school as she was friendly to everyone she met.
What are some other reasons to expand your network of friends?
To help you understand some others reasons and motivations for expanding your network of friends, read this short excerpt from a story written by the author entitled “Making Friends with Kids from Other Schools.”
Ben thought, “I work hard at finding something I can ask or say to just about everybody I meet. I’ll even do this with the kids I don’t think I’ll particularly like. I can thank my dad for that.”
Ben’s father was a very successful businessman who had worked his way up through the company. His success was largely due to one particular philosophy. He would tell Ben, “Son, forget about that saying that states, ‘If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.’ That philosophy may keep you out of trouble, but it won’t get you anywhere. All your life, you are going to go to school or work with people you don’t like. But it pays to find something to talk to them about.”
Ben asked with a look of dismay on his face, “You mean like compliment them even if I don’t mean it?” He felt better when he heard his father’s response.
“No, I don’t mean that as that would come off as totally fake. I simply mean to talk to them about sports or hobbies or the weather or a homework assignment or whatever. It pays to do this as that person might end up introducing you to someone who could advance your career. Or they might end up introducing you to someone who could be a true friend. Or perhaps they could get you something else you might want. That, son, is the secret of my success.”
Ben smiled, “Thanks, Dad! I’ll remember that.”
Ben did remember that lesson. He managed to find something interesting to talk about with just about everyone. He thought, “Thanks to my dad’s advice, I now have a huge network of both friends and acquaintances.”
Practicing the Golden Rule
It all boils down to the Golden Rule of treating others the way you would like to be treated. We all enjoy it when people reach out to us with overtures of friendship. Do the same thing to others. If possible, even find opportunities to make friendly overtures to the people who are considered to be bullies. If you can make real connections with them, they may no longer feel the need to bully you.
If the boy or girl is still determined to bully you, read this short excerpt from another story the author wrote entitled “Thicken Your Skin To Put-Downs” that demonstrates one more technique you can try.
Lucas was having a bad day. He couldn’t successfully put Wayne or Melinda down. Then a teacher had yelled at him because he didn’t have his school supplies for her class. As soon as the dismissal bell rang, Lucas stomped out. He was looking for someone weaker to take out his frustrations on.
Joyce just happened to pass by at that moment. Fortunately for her and thanks to Melinda and her Aunt Sherry, she was ready for the unexpected. Lucas started raging. “You stupid jerk! You better get out of my way!” This felt good to Lucas. He began yelling even louder, throwing a bit of a tantrum.
Joyce stood her ground. Very quietly and kindly, Joyce changed the subject by saying, “it sounds like you’re frustrated since you’re calling me names. Have you been having a bad day?”
Lucas continued his tirade until he noticed how calm Joyce looked. Additionally, he saw that Joyce seemed to be talking. While Lucas had been yelling, Joyce just kept repeating the same statement in an increasingly softer tone. Finally, Lucas snapped, “What?! I can’t hear you!”
Very calmly and politely, Joyce said, “Well, perhaps you can hear me now since you aren’t yelling any longer. What I said was that you sounded frustrated since you were yelling at me, and I wondered if you had been having a bad day?”
Lucas snidely said, “I sure have! That teacher yelled at me just because I forgot to bring my stupid stuff to class.”
Joyce said, “That’s no fun! What else went wrong today?”
No way was Lucas going to talk about his failure to put down Wayne and Melinda. So he just said, “Uh, just some things.”
Joyce asked, “Do you want to talk about it? I’m a pretty good listener.”
Lucas said, “Uh, no. I better get to my next class. Uh, thanks anyway.” Lucas was a bit confused, but also felt a little better. Perhaps he should just give up on trying to put people down. He couldn’t seem to get a rise out of anybody. He said to himself, “Oh, well! On to my next class.”
What we can learn from alpha, beta, and omega wolves
Watch documentaries about wolf packs. The author of Wolf Park.org explains that wolf packs average six to eight animals. Sometimes, they have as many as twenty in their pack. Depending on how much prey is available, a wolf pack hunts, sleeps, plays and raises wolf pups within a territory that sometimes ranges as large as 50 to 1000 square miles. The author of Wolf Country.net explains that wolves work to partake in activities that strengthen their social bonds and camaraderie, such as taking part in group howling sessions. The wolves work together to help each other maintain their pack community against other rival wolf packs.
Celebrate the strengths, talents, and skills of others
In a similar manner, people need to support each other in practicing their talents and skills. Celebrate the strengths that each person has. Work on the areas in your life that are needs-improvement opportunities. One more example from the story called “Thicken Your Skin To Put-Downs” might be helpful.
Dennis, like Lucas, was another one of those guys who loved bolstering his own self-confidence by putting down less popular kids. On this one day, Dennis walked up to Wayne and said, “You are the lamest ballplayer I have ever seen! You have absolutely no talent whatsoever!”
Melinda’s Aunt Sherry had counseled her to let them know they’ve been heard – but to never agree with those verbal attacks. Nicely, Wayne said, “You know, I hear everything you’re saying; however, I don’t agree. I admit, I could use some more practice. Would you be willing to give me a few pointers?”
Dennis wasn’t expecting Wayne’s positive reaction at all. Additionally, he couldn’t help feeling a bit flattered at being asked for advice. They didn’t become best friends, but Dennis and Wayne did become good acquaintances. Dennis felt good getting Wayne’s advice on how to play ball better. As for Wayne, he was relieved to have one less enemy.
Work for a WIN-WIN outcome with every person you encounter
The point is that you should try to work toward a WIN-WIN outcome with each and every person you encounter. If you only talk about you and monopolize the conversation, you have merely accomplished a WIN-LOSE outcome where you come out the winner and your companion feels like the loser. If you only ask that other person questions and only talk about his or her interests all the time without contributing ideas of your own, you have reached a LOSE-WIN outcome where you may come off feeling like the loser and they come off appearing and feeling like a winner. However, if you truly have a give-and-take conversation where you both talk and actively listen to each other, than you have achieved that all important WIN-WIN outcome that helps cement true friendships.
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.)
Now that your child knows that having an ally or friend to hang out with 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”
Wolf Country.net – The Wolf Pack
Wolf Park.org – Frequently Asked Questions About Wolves
YouTube shows promoting be a responsible witness who can make a difference:
1. Hero in the Hallway!
2. The Power of One – School Video Sample
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