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Imbalance of Power Leads To Bullying In These 5 Ways

workplace-bullyingOne of the signs that an aggressive act is bullying and not just bad behavior is if there is an imbalance of power – the aggressive party has either the perception or reality of being ‘greater than’ in some manner.  This sense of power can come in many forms.

  • Power can be demonstrated economically.  In an adult relationships if one person makes and controls all of the money, that may be an imbalance of power.  In and of itself that is not a problem, unless they use the threat of that power to control the other person.
  • Power might be demonstrated physically.  If one person is larger, stronger, more aggressive – this imbalance might be shown if the weaker person is afraid of them.  They might be afraid of being hit or pushed around.
  • Power might be demonstrated mentally.  There are many ways this may work out, but many times we will see one person who perceives themselves as smarter or more capable and will be very pushy about getting things done their way.  This is true in kids or adults.
  • Power might be demonstrated emotionally.  Many times manipulation of feelings and actions will be done, based on one persons perception of themselves or the other person.
  • Power might be demonstrated even online.  If one person is showing up anonymously and is saying mean things about another – they have an illegitment power over the target.

While this list is not exhaustive – it is easy to see how one child might be able to bully another, or a spouse may bully their partner or even their child.  Even teachers can sometimes use their ‘power’ in a way that is damaging to a child or fellow teacher.

When we have power in some manner, empathy for others will help us to be thoughtful and careful about how we use it or even how it is perceived.  Check out more information on bullying at the class on September 27 @ 10 AM at Balanced Life Skills.

You are invited to come to the first of a series on “The Truth About Bullying”



Building kids confidence to think on their own

How-to-Boost-Confidence-of-Your-KidWhen our children are young, we as parents are making all of the decisions for them.  What they eat, wear, what they do, where they go and who they are playing with.  As they get older they need to start thinking and making more decisions on their own.  Having the confidence to think on their own, make choices and use their verbal skills to express themselves tells us that they are growing up.  Unfortunately, much of the way classrooms are taught is not encouraging critical or creative thinking and the same may be true in the home.

There are some experts that put the blame on a change in culture – with all of the attention on the amount of media and the internet that young people are exposed to and seem to be addicted to.  However if we as parents and teachers are inclined to tell youngsters what to do and what to think and not teach them how to think about what they are doing – we end up with students who are not creative or able to think through why certain behaviors are better for them than others.  They expect for others to tell them what to do – and they expect that if it doesn’t fit their model they will fight about it.  Here are two suggestions to get that critical and creative thinking going.

1.    Expect students to explain their opinions – Everyone of us has the need to be heard and we want others to know what we think and feel, including children.  As parents it is important to hear our children, but we should also expect that they explain to us how they came to these opinions. Having them explain – we will hear some very interesting thought processes – but that is important, so we can demonstrate other points of view.  Working the conversations in this manner will help them use their brain to think of other options.

2.   Demonstrate for them how to think and to be creative – Not all answers that we come up with are going to be the best answers, they may not be what is best for us or others, they may not be safe or fair.  This does not mean that they are not answers, this is about being creative.  When a difficult decision needs to be made, allow all of the answers to be heard – no matter how far-fetched and then think and talk through the positive and negative aspects of each one.

What does this have to do with confidence?  Confidence comes from our ability to think, to see things as they are – not more or less difficult than they really are.  Confidence comes from being able to be creative and come up with solutions that may not be expected.  Teaching our children to think – critically and creatively will go a long way to building their confidence.


Practicing confidence just like my students

handshake2This is rather personal in that I am guessing that most people that are acquaintances, would never guess this about me – unless I told them.  I find it very hard to walk into a room with people I do not know and quickly start up conversations and be comfortable.  Are there others in our community like that?

It is interesting that as I am talking to students about building and demonstrating confidence – this is certainly one area that is a weakness for me personally.  So this week I told the students about my weakness and reminded them and myself that “confidence comes from competence & competence comes from practice”.

Our practice this week was getting the words right and practicing introducing ourselves to each other.  Then just to work on our courage, some of the students went up to adults in the studio (who are parents of other students) and practiced introducing themselves to them.  They did a great job.  Good eye contact, firm handshake, using the correct words.

Even when we sometimes feel unsure of ourselves when we are around people we do not know,  practicing and putting ourselves out there is courageous and powerful.  My next time to practice is Tuesday September 16 when I will be at the Board of Education Breakfast to listen to the new School Superintendent.  I must practice what we have been talking about in our classes.


Healthy risk taking can build confidence

Introducing-Kids-New-FoodThe most difficult part of parenting that I can think of right this minute is how to know when to help your child to take a risk.  Taking risks is a part of growing up and children begin the process at a very young age.  In fact it is the characteristic of confidence that allows a child or anyone to take risk.  Some are more willing, almost too willing to risk and others are more reticent.

When dealing with risks our children want to learn to determine whether it is a healthy or unhealthy risk.  Healthy risks might include for a young child trying a new food or activity.  Even meeting a new person can feel like a risk to a child that has not gotten comfortable with that situation.  How we handle that can determine if we are willing to try another “risky event” at another time.

Even though we do not feel confident there are things we can do to make it easier to take the risk.  Talking to a mentor or a friend may offer the support they need to try something new. Or finding an affirmation that a child can say to themselves may give them the confidence to move forward.

In the end one of the best ways to gain or maintain confidence is by practicing.  We said in an earlier post, “Confidence comes from competence.”  If you are good at something you will be confident about that action.  The way you get more comfortable and good at any activity is by practice.

Adults and parents have to remember that our children are learning from us too.  In other words, are we willing to take “risks” and are they healthy ones – like what kind of food we will eat, or trying a new game or activity.  As a parent helping our children define boundaries that define risks in safe environments versus dangerous ones is one of the ways that parents can help their children.

driving-safelyOn the other hand if children see us take risks that are dangerous – speeding, running lights, health decisions, drug or alcohol use, it is far more likely that they will model what they have seen their parents do.

What if our child is not willing to take a risk – like meeting new people? Talking with them in a dialog, not speeches or lectures, learning how they are feeling and giving them time and experience may be helpful in overcoming the fears that are stopping them from healthy risks.


Why domestic violence victims don’t leave?

black-backgroundAfter this weeks revealing of the rest of the events in the Ray Rice case, I have heard and use to wonder myself – Why do they stick around, Why did she marry him anyway?  Having an understanding of the answer to this question is key to understanding abuse and the damage that is done.

Here is a link to a TED Talk that really helped me understand and appreciate the emotional and mental process that takes place.  I also came to believe even deeper that the targets of bullying are being abused also.  I talk about this in my bully prevention class  “The Truth About Bullying”.

Why domestic violence victims don’t leave?