They’re every parent’s and sensitive child’s nightmare. Bullies. Whether they practice their insidious social cruelty at school, at the park or other places kids congregate, one thing’s for sure: bullies aren’t going away, and the methods we have used or the experts have suggested thus far to combat this seeming epidemic don’t seem to be working very well! Naturally, this has gotten me thinking and asking, “WWAD?” What would animals do? Could we tap into the instincts of the human animal to alter the course of a bullying scenario in ways never thought of before? I think the answer is yes! From a whole new perspective through the eyes of our Inner Animal, what becomes evident is an entirely new way of dealing with bullies…one that may even shock you, but one that smart animals already know. We can learn from them.
Let’s examine the instinct behind bullying in the first place. It seems rooted in one of our most basic human instincts, identified by social science giants Freud and Dewey years ago: The Desire to be Important. Many bullies are actually desperate to feel strong and powerful, so they pick on those who seem weaker than themselves in order to feel more important, by contrast. The advice du jour is to stand up to bullies. Push back. Report their despicable behavior to the authorities. The advice of today seems logical, but here’s where intellect and instinct collide. The problem is not one of logic; it’s one of an unfulfilled instinct.
Ironically, what happens when bullying is “reported” or responsible adults step in and bring the bully’s actions into the public square for condemnation , the specific bully behavior in that instance might subside but the bully, in a perverted way, may feel even more important because of this very public acknowledgment of his or her deeds. Now I am not suggesting that in the case of bullying that involves physical abuse or danger, it not be reported, but in the majority of cases that I see or hear parents describe, bullying is much more subtle. For example, it might be mean girls at school not letting their daughter take an empty seat at their table at lunch, or boys calling their son derogatory names as he passes in the hallway. Before rushing to parental or administrative confrontation as the solution, my suggestion is to stop and consider an alternative plan of action that could affect change from a deeper and smarter level. Animal style.
Try fulfilling the bully’s Desire to be Important another way. In the Animal World, no animal bullies or pushes around another that they assume likes them. Being trusted and liked by others in the group is the clever animal’s method of avoiding being pushed around. If you suspect your child is being bullied, have a new type of conversation with them about the bully and how to turn his or her behavior around by looking for the best in them instead of the worst. Yes, that’s what I said.
I believe everyone, even a bully overcompensating for their self-assumed inadequacies, has at least one redeeming quality. In my anti-bullying plan, the victim’s job is to find that quality in their bully. Perhaps the bully is a talented skateboarder that should consider training for the X Games or has artistic talent evidenced in his graffiti or selection of body art. Maybe the mean girl has beautiful hair that should be in a commercial or has such a brave personal style that she’s not afraid to sport purple hair and green lipstick. Whatever it is, instead of badmouthing the bully, the bullied might cleverly start dropping mentions to others in their circle about the bully’s unique or redeeming qualities …even if it’s a stretch. When others start trash-talking and speaking ill of the bully, the bullied can resist the urge to chime in and turn the conversation around by focusing, instead, on the bully’s hidden qualities. Something along the lines of, “That may be, but everybody’s got a good quality in there somewhere. What do you think theirs is?”
Believe me, the grapevine is alive and well at any school and this will use it to advantage! Word will spread that the bullied is coming to the bully’s defense and that news will travel fast. The bully them self, hearing the grapevine chatter may wonder, “Could my victim actually admire me for something?“ They may even start “liking” their victim. If that happens, odds are the bullying could stop altogether. Remember, our instinct is not to mistreat someone we like.
Will this work in every case? Probably not but it’s definitely worth a try, for nothing Man has derived is more powerful than the Inner Animal that drives him. Influence through instinct is the name of the new game.