How To Raise A Bully

5 Nov

I must start by stating: I am not a professional in child development or psychology. I have no formal training in the matter. With that said, I have been a child, I know and have known children, and I have children of my own. This article is strictly opinion.

How To Raise A Bully
There has been a growing trend in the media in recent years. News stations have highlighted them, they are recirculated on twitter and facebook, even celebrity blogs showcase them. I’m talking about video clips of how to raise a bully. No, they aren’t titled that. I renamed them that, because that’s what they seem to be.

The video clips I’m speaking of come in different forms. There are a ton of “tell your kid you ate their halloween candy and film their response” type clips…


And even a dad (that’s who they say he is, I don’t know that as a fact) lip syncing his daughter’s temper tantrum:

Okay, I get it. It’s Halloween candy. It’s silly, and it’s a “trick”. My problem here, is that you are putting a child in an emotional state for your own benefit. The child gets clearly upset, and then sees you laugh as you explain it was a joke. The child now learns that making people cry is funny, in a sense. Sure…. it’s a just a prank… take it easy, Mandy.

Then comes Dad’s mocking of tantrum. Hey, gotta give it to the man, he is right on with it. He knows what’s coming before it comes. Think maybe he hears those tantrums a lot? So what’s the big deal, it’s just a joke? Do you see the other kids in the room? Do you see how they walk around giggling, being shown that mocking someone’s anger is a joke?

Here’s the real problem.

If children can't trust you with their feelings, who will they trust? Peers over adults? DANGER.

If they grow up being shown that you will laugh when they are sad, film when they are angry, and post when they feel anything other than content, you no longer are their safe haven. If they can’t trust you with their feelings, who will they trust? Peers? Do you see where this is going? Even as an adult, if a peer has teased me about a discontent they are the last person I go to when I’m feeling discontent again. You know who I go to? The ones who listen to me, whether I’m right or wrong, and let me have my fit. Then, when I’m ready to let it go, if we feel like laughing let’s laugh about it. There is already a problem with teenagers turning to friends for help when they face a problem. There is already a fear of teens who are bullied feeling like no one will understand or listen. Why are we, as the adult, being bullies? Do you know why there is bullying in schools? Because it has become a type of sport. You can’t shield a child from learning how to be mean, but let the source be from somewhere other than the home- somewhere you can’t control…

I come from a big family of teasers. There can be fun and game in it. I’m pleading not at another’s expense is all. There is a difference between giving a child character and giving them a weapon. Teasing and sarcasm are unavoidable these days. You can teach a child to let it roll of their shoulders without teaching them to grab a hold and save the technique for later.

I am not claiming to be innocent. In the past, my husband has texted me from work asking how my day is going and in the moment will send him a picture of our 1 year old rolling on the floor crying with the caption “this is how it is going”. It’s my way of saying “I’ve got my hands full” or “One of those days here”… but I’m not showing her siblings, I’m not posting it on facebook or youtube, and I certainly am not sending it in to celebrities in hope for my 15 minutes of fame for an uncontrollable child who doesn’t understand why their world is not simple and perfect in their eyes.

There is enough cruelty in the world, I don't need to be a source of itHere’s how I see it, there is enough cruelty in the world and I don’t need to be a source of it. I don’t believe any adult should be the source of it. We are raising the next generation. We are in charge of how the next generation shapes up to be, how they treat one another. When my kids have problems at school, I want them to feel comfortable enough to come home and tell me. Even if they started it. I want them to be able to talk out their feelings with me, without punishment or embarrassment. Talking it out might be the only way they learn how ridiculous they are being.  
What ever happened to viral videos being of babies laughing at dogs? Or videos of “surprise we’re going to Disneyland!!!”….
The world has switched gears somewhere down the line. We’ve done a reverse Monsters, Inc.

In the movie “Monsters, Inc.”, the monsters live in a world where in order to get electricity they have to sneak into kids’ bedrooms and make them scream. By the end of the movie, the characters learn that they also gain electricity by making children laugh. Not to be a spoiler to those of you who might not have seen it, but by the end of the movie the electric company is making money by comedy not horror.
Somewhere down the line, society has learned that we gain our “electricity” by poking fun at sorrow, sadness, anger, discontent, etc. That’s how you raise a bully. That’s how being a bully becomes a sport.
We must learn to re-channel ourselves to gain our “electricity” through laughter, not screams.

37 Responses to “How To Raise A Bully”

  1. Caroline @ Anchored In His Grace November 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    I think this is a great perspective! Everything we do as parents impacts our children. We have to examine, are we building our children up, or tearing them down? Great job!

    • Mandy November 6, 2013 at 9:10 am #

      Thank you! It’s funny, when I became a mom I saw the world differently… but when my child became old enough to communicate and understand verbal and non-verbal communication I saw the world differently AGAIN lol

  2. Audra @ Renewed Projects November 5, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    My husband and I enjoy teasing with each other, but when we started saying it to our five year old she couldn’t tell the difference between teasing and lying. While we didn’t change our teasing between us, we realized that teaching her the value of truth trumped any humor gained through teasing her. She’ll understand it one day, but that day isn’t today. I agree with your post.

    • Mandy November 6, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      Absolutely! My husband and I sure can go at each other with the sarcasm and witty come backs but introducing a child into the world who seems to be catching on to it sure makes me stop and think, what is the point behind our game? WE know it, but does SHE? She’s 3, of course she doesn’t get it. My “ah-ha” moment was when I watched her with her younger sister say something that made her sister cry, and then she followed it with “i’m just kidding, i’m just kidding”…. Okkkkay I thought, time to reverse some things here lol

  3. Elisabeth November 5, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I thought this was so well put… I even had my 17 year old son read it with me. I was raised in a home where my brother definitely bullied me and my mother would join in with the mocking. I grew up hearing, “Oh, learn to take a joke” and “you’re just being too sensitive”. I swore I would never do that with my kids (or allow it).

    It’s not that we don’t playfully tease, we do. Like, when our oldest (now 21) was 3, she opened a Christmas present and was so excited… by the box. She said, “Look! It’s a BOX!” and we had to convince her to go further and actually see that there was a present INSIDE the box… so now, every Christmas and birthday, when she unwraps the first present, all of her siblings will join in and sing song… “Hey, Alison, IT’S A BOX!” and she’ll toss wrapping paper at them and everyone cracks up. But we didn’t start “teasing” her about that until she was almost an adult. We would tell the story to her younger siblings and eventually it just became “one of those things” that everyone “remembers” even though none of the rest of them were even born when it happened.

    Anyway, my 17 year old son agrees wholeheartedly with your premise… and as he has dealt with bullies in the past, he appreciated hearing it said that it isn’t okay.

    • Mandy November 6, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      I’m so glad you agree with me. And thank you for showing your son. We are playful too, there’s nothing wrong with playful banter so long as EVERYONE involved is genuinely enjoying it. When you’ve got tears and anger, chances are you’re the ONLY one enjoying it lol. My mom used to say “if you’re the only one laughing it’s probably not funny”… My oldest is only 3 and I know that someday I will have to face mean words and actions with her (whether from her or to her with other kids) and I just PRAY we can get this down before then- teach to love laughter not horror.

  4. Shavonne November 6, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    So poignant! I love this article! Beautifully stated and very well written.

    • Mandy November 6, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      Thanks Shavonne! I was nervous to post it because parenting seems to be a very sensitive topic for some people. I definitely didn’t want to hurt feelings to those who don’t see a problem with the teasing examples I posted.

  5. lindsey November 6, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    So well put. I wish somebody had said this to my parents before they reproduced. Being the youngest of 3, my older siblings absolutely became bullies early and were to young to understand the detrimental effects that it would have on me. I believe that my generation is not only perpetuating this, but absolutely raising more and more bullies every year. I used to be a nanny and saw very quickly how young children become a reflection of their parents. At 3 and 5 years old, playing house meant arguing on toy cell phones. I’m afraid of having a child, coming home, locking the door and never opening it again because they learn the wrong things so quickly. I truly hope that parents, present and future, will take this to heart and start raising children who don’t find joy in making people feel bad about themselves.

    • Mandy November 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      Don’t be scared to have kids. Every family is different and you and your husband have all the chance to make things right. I know some things are hereditary but bullying doesn’t have to be one of them. I know a family where the parents were brought up in dysfunction and somehow their kids are the most well behaved and bright I have ever met.

  6. Melissa @ Home on Deranged November 7, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    I am so glad you wrote this! I totally agree. When your children say the exact same things back to you or repeat your actions, pay attention. Is that how you want them to behave? When my husband and I argue in front of the kids, they yell. They don’t like it. I know you can’t hide all arguments, but they notice.
    Thanks for sharing on the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop.

    • Mandy November 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      I totally agree! And not even just verbal communication, when my husband or I are in a bad mood after a bad day, we don’t even necessarily have to be arguing or snappy at each other- just the lack of smiles or interest makes our kids’ behavior lash out

  7. shamene@sayitwithcake November 7, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    great article! thank you for sharing

  8. Cari November 7, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    THANK YOU for writing this. I don’t have kids of my own, but I was a nanny for two years, and seeing the whole “I at your Halloween candy” prank has always made me feel so uncomfortable. Reading your perspective has solidified why I dislike it so much.

  9. AnnMarie November 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Wonderful commentary and I agree wholeheartedly with your opinion! My ex and brother in laws all kid like that continuously so my two girls were exposed to it all the time. I did not like it then and I don’t like it now. That Jimmy Kimmel thing on the Halloween candy made me sick!

  10. Samantha @ Florassippi Girl November 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    You hit the nail on the head! Society has become so desensitized to this sort of thing. It has become acceptable, or even worse – the norm, to treat each other so poorly. Thank you for putting it so eloquently. Hopefully more people will read this and realize the true impacts of our actions.

  11. Robin~All Things Heart and Home November 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    Amen sister!!! I saw those clips played the day after Halloween and cringed. Really, why would someone do that to their child?
    Thank you for wrapping words around what so many of us feel…
    and thanks for linking with Twirl & Take a Bow!

  12. Ricki @ The Questionable Homesteader November 10, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Just wanted to stop by to let you know that I loved your post on How to Raise a Bully so much that I am featuring you on The Sunday favourites.

    Please feel free to stop by and grab my button.


  13. Kim~madeinaday November 13, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    Great post~ Thanks for this post it was eye opening this morning! No need to be nervous.. it is true! Thanks for linking up on Made in a Day!

  14. Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook November 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    I *do* have a degree in developmental psychology and have assisted in research on bullying, and I think you are right on target! People need and deserve to be raised with compassion.

    • Mandy November 14, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

      Compassion! That was the word I was looking for when writing this! Thank you! Yes, society is completely lacking compassion these days. Well, I shouldn’t say completely- there is still a ton of good in the world!!!!

  15. Krista Low November 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Thank you so much for linking up with me @ Great Idea Thursday’s! What a relevant article. This is such a huge issue in our society now. You had the most viewed link this week and you are being featured! Come grab your button 🙂

  16. Vashti Quiroz-Vega November 14, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Hello! Great article. I don’t have children, but I don’t have to be a mother to see that your point is valid. I believe there should be a mandatory psychology course that parents-to-be should take before bringing innocent and impressionable children into the world. 🙂

  17. Jenny November 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    This is so well written and hits home in an age where everything is out there for everyone to air their dirty laundry. I love the way that you related it to Monsters Inc. for the mommies who know way too much about Disney movies. Thank you so much for sharing at Whimsy Wednesdays.

  18. Cindy November 28, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    You have written an excellent article here, my friend, and you are spot on! I agree with all of the points that you made!

  19. Chelsey April 3, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    I agree completely. Even as an adult, there are certain family members I downright refuse to talk to about my problems or feelings simply because they did the things these parents are doing. There is no trust there and they (and my husband) will never understand why. The things we do to our kids affect them for the rest of their lives (or until they work through it in therapy…whichever). No one is a perfect parent and I’m sure everyone’s kids are scarred in one way or another, but we should at least THINK about our actions and consider how we would feel if someone were to do to us what we’re doing to our kids. Thanks for sharing this!

  20. Chelsey April 3, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Clarification on my last comment: I didn’t mean to make it sound like my husband does these things. What I meant by “and my husband” is that he doesn’t understand why I feel the way I feel towards many of my family members because he wasn’t there. No matter how many times I try to explain it, he’s often very confused by my relationships with them.

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