Stop Bullying Before it Starts with Compassionate Communication

When children or adults are rude to someone, there is a natural reaction to justify that behavior. Such as, “I told them their idea is terrible because it is!” Whether it was a terrible idea or not, telling someone how wrong they are will certainly not solve the problem. Why not ask the person some questions about her perspective on this “terrible idea”? I find that when I stop being judgmental and start understanding the person’s perspective my compassion increases, which opens up a healthy dialogue with that person and allows the two of us to find solutions. This dialogue also increases our ability to work together as a team in the future.

When children (or adults) are caught bullying others, be prepared for a list of reasons that they feel totally justified in their behavior. When we are angry and lashing out, we need to be reminded to:

  1. Learn to deal with anger in healthy ways, like journaling or talking with a trusted friend.
  2. Be open and honest about our role in conflicts with each other
  3. Apologize when we are acting like bullies, and
  4. Make amends. This is not just about saying “I’m sorry,” but rather about being more considerate and kind in the future. Even if most of a situation is not my fault, apologizing for my part in the conflict has led to peace and healing in several of my challenging relationships with friends and co-workers.

This is all easier said than done, but the more we work at these steps, the more productive and fun our time will be with others. Otherwise, one person’s bad attitude can justify repeated bullying attacks, which can escalate over time. Conflicts will always continue to arise in life, but with respect and clear communication, we can work together to resolve issues peacefully.

William Blake wrote about conflict escalating in his poem A Poison Tree. You can find this poem in many collections of his work, including Poetry for Young People – William Blake, which is ideal for children ages nine to twelve. This is a great poem to discuss with children to get them talking about how to deal with conflict and the consequences of letting problems escalate.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend; 
I told my wrath, my wrath did end. 
I was angry with my foe: 
I told it not, my wrath did grow. 

And I waterd it in fears, 
Night & morning with my tears: 
And I sunned it with smiles, 
And with soft deceitful wiles. 

And it grew both day and night. 
Till it bore an apple bright. 
And my foe beheld it shine, 
And he knew that it was mine. 

And into my garden stole, 
When the night had veild the pole; 
In the morning glad I see; 
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

-William Blake

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