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Researchers Discover Devastating Results of Childhood Bullying

Researchers Discover Devastating Results of Childhood Bullying

Bullying comes in many forms. Some examples of what victims endure include: name calling, teasing, spreading rumors, pushing or shoving, stealing property, sexual comments or gestures, cyberbullying, leaving the person out of activities, hitting, slapping and kicking, threatening. It’s shocking to know that young people are subjected to this everyday at school and on the streets. What’s even more shocking is to realise that these children grow up still affected by their experience.

Poorer health, lower income, lower quality of life  – more likely for victims of bullying

Many studies have been carried out to examine the affects of bullying on children. Researchers have learned that these affects are far-reaching and complex. They can take their toll well into adulthood.

It has been well established that bullying can cause depression, anxiety, conduct problems, psychosis and suicidal ideation in young people who have suffered at the hands of bullies. The Medical News Today reported from a study that highlighted some of the affects of bullying on children. It found that these children were prone to night terrors, sleep-walking and nightmares.

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A 2014 study carried out at Kings College London UK, found that up to 40 years later there are still some negative effects of bullying both socially, physically and mentally. The researchers found that at age 50 people who had been bullied as children were more likely to be in poorer physical and psychological health and have more problems with cognitive functioning than those who had not been bullied.

Problems in other areas included: being more likely to be unemployed, earning less for those who were working and having lower educational backgrounds. They were also found to be less likely to be in a relationship or to have a good social support network. The victims themselves reported that they had a lower quality of life and life satisfaction than their peers who had not been bullied.

Those at the forefront of research stated:

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“Our study shows that the affects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later. The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood” – Dr.Ryu Takizawa from the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.

“Toxic Stress” and Bullying

Another study into the long-term affects of bullying examined the concept that bullying victimisation is a form of “toxic stress”. Advocates of this theory outline that this toxic stress affects the physiological responses of children. This might explain why otherwise healthy victims of bullying go on to develop health problems later in life.

It seems that elevated levels of a protein called CRP or C-reactive protein, have been found in victims of bullying. Traditionally, high levels of CRP are found in the blood when the body is fighting inflammation like arthritis, or an infection of some kind. This could explain the connection between poor health and bullying – the body is reacting in the same way to “toxic stress” as it would to an infection.

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The Affects of Cyberbullying

Obviously these studies do not address the long term affects of Cyber Bullying – we need to wait and see what is found over time. We do know however, that a number of young people have already taken their lives after being bullied on line. The DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) emphasises however, that in these cases there were other risk factors present and social media did not necessarily play the defining role.

New research outlines that cyberbullying is linked to teen depression. One million children have been harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook. (Consumer Reports 2011)

Experts in Cyberbullying suggest that parents guide their children through safe practices when online instead of banning them from their computer when some kind of problem crops up.

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The Future and Bullying

Professor Louise Arseneault of the Kings College Study says: “We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing up”.

She advocates the use of early intervention to prevent problems arising in the first place.

According to these studies we know that bullying has been going on for more than 40 years. Maybe it has always been a reality. However it continues despite anti-bullying campaigns, better awareness and educational programmes in schools. Professor Arseneault is right – we can’t just accept bullying as an expected part of life. As a society it is imperative that we act on this knowledge to rid our schools of bullying. It seems to me that maybe if we took our focus off the victims and onto the bullies we might learn more about how and why it’s happening in the first place.

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Published on February 11, 2021

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

I’m old enough to remember how the cane at school was used for punishment. My dad is old enough to think that banning corporal punishment in schools resulted in today’s poorly disciplined youth. With all of this as my early experiences, there was a time when I would have been better assigned to write about how to negatively discipline your child.

What changed? Thankfully, my wife showed me different approaches for discipline that were very positive. Plus, I was open to learning.

What has not changed is that kids are full of problems with impulses and emotions that flip from sad to happy, then angry in a moment. Though we’re not that different as adults with stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and stimulants such as sugar and caffeine in our diets.

Punishment as Discipline?

What this means is that we usually take the easy path when a child misbehaves and punish them. Punishment may solve an isolated problem, but it’s not really teaching the kids anything useful in the long term.

Probably it’s time for me to be clear about what I mean by punishment and discipline as these terms are often used interchangeably, but they are quite different.

Discipline VS. Punishment

Punishment is where we inflict pain or suffering on our child as a penalty. Discipline means to teach. They’re quite the opposite, but you’ll notice that teachers, parents, and coaches often confuse the two words.

So, as parents, we have to have clear goals to teach our kids. It’s a long-term plan—using strategies that will have the longest-lasting impact on our kids are the best use of our time and energy.

If you’re clear about what you want to achieve, then it becomes easier to find the best strategy. The better we are at responding when our kids misbehave or do not follow our guidance, the better the results are going to be.

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3 Positive Discipline Strategies for Your Child

Stay with me as I appreciate that a lot of people who read these blogs do not always have children with impulse control. We’ve had a lot of kids in our martial arts classes that were the complete opposite. They had concentration issues, hyperactive, and disruptive to the other children.

The easy solution is to punish their parents by removing the kids from the class or punish the child with penalties such as time outs and burpees. Yes, it was tempting to do all of this, but one of our club values is that we pull you up rather than push you down.

This means it’s a long-term gain to build trust and confidence, which is destroyed by constant punishments.

Here are the discipline strategies we used to build trust and confidence with these hyperactive kids.

1. Patience

The first positive discipline strategy is to simply be patient. The more patient you are, the more likely you are to get results. Remember I said that we need to build trust and connection. You’ll get further with this goal using patience.

As a coach, sometimes I was not the best person for this role, but we had other coaches in the club that could step in here. As a parent, you may not have this luxury, so it’s really important to recognize any improvements that you see and celebrate them.

2. Redirection

The second strategy we use is redirection. It’s important with a redirection to take “no” out of the equation. Choices are a great alternative.

Imagine a scenario where you’re in a restaurant and your kid is wailing. The hard part here is getting your child to stop screaming long enough for you to build a connection. Most parents have calming strategies and if you practice them with your child, they are more likely to be effective.

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In the first moment of calm, you can say “Your choice to scream and cry in public is not a good one. It would be best to say, Dad. What can I do to get ice-cream?” You can replace this with an appropriate option.

The challenge with being calm and redirecting is that we need to be clear-minded, focused, and really engaged at the moment. If you’re on your phone, talking with friends or family, thinking about work or the bills, you’ll miss this opportunity to discipline in a way that has long-term benefits.

3. Repair and Ground Rules

The third positive discipline strategy is to repair and use ground rules. Once you’ve given the better option and it has been taken, you have a chance to repair this behavior to lessen its occurrence to better yet, prevent it from happening again. And by setting appropriate ground rules, you can make this a long-term win by helping your child improve their behavior.

It’s these ground rules that help you correct the poor choices of your child and direct the behavior that you want to see.

Consequences Versus Ultimatums

When I was a child and being punished. My parents worked in a busy business for long hours, so their default was to go to ultimatums. “Do that again and you’re grounded for a week,” or “If I catch you doing X, you’ll go to bed without dinner”.

Looking back, this worked to a point. But the flip side is that I remembered more of the ultimatums than the happier times. I’ve learned through trial and error with my own kids that consequences are more effective while not breaking down trust.

What to Do When Ground Rules Get Broken?

It’s on the consequences that you use when the ground rules are broken.

In the martial arts class, when the hyperactive student breaks the ground rules. They would miss a turn in a game or go to the back of the line in a queue. We do not want to shame the child by isolating them. But on the flip side, there should be clear ground rules and proportionate consequences.

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Yes, there are times when we would like to exclude the student from the class, the club, and even the universe. Again, it’s here that patience is so important and probably impulse control too. With an attainable consequence, you can maintain trust and you’re more likely to get the long-term behavior that you’re looking to achieve.

Interestingly, we would occasionally hear a strategy from parents that little Kevin has been misbehaving at home with his sister or something similar. He likes martial arts training, so the parent would react by removing Kevin from the martial arts class as a punishment.

We would suggest that this would remove Kevin from an environment where he is behaving positively. Removing him from this is likely to be detrimental to the change you would like to see. He may even feel shame when he returns to the class and loses all the progress he’s made.

Alternatives to Punishment

Another option is to tell Kevin to write a letter to his sister, apologizing for his behavior, and explaining how he is going to behave in the future.

If your child is too young to write, give the apology face to face. For the apology to feel sincere, there is some value to pre-framing or practicing this between yourself and your child before they give it to the intended person.

Don’t expect them to know the ground rules or what you’re thinking! It will be clearer to your child and better received with some practice. You can practice along the lines of: “X is the behavior I did, Y is what I should have done, and Z is my promise to you for how I’m going to act in the future.” You can replace XYZ with the appropriate actions.

It does not need to be a letter or in person, it can even be a video. But there has to be an intention to repair the broken ground rule. If you try these strategies, that is become fully engaged with them and you’re still getting nowhere.

But what to do if these strategies do not work? Then there is plenty to gain by seeking the help of an expert. Chances are that something is interfering or limiting their development.

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This does not mean that your child has a neurological deficiency, although this may be the root cause. But it means that you can get an objective view and help on how to create the changes that you would like to see. Remember that using positive discipline strategies is better than mere punishment.

There are groups that you can chat with for help. Family Lives UK has the aim of ensuring that all parents have somewhere to turn before they reached a crisis point. The NSPCC also provides a useful guide to positive parenting that you can download.[1]

Bottom Line

So, there your go, the three takeaways on strategies you can use for positively disciplining your child. The first one is about you! Be patient, be present, and think about what is best for the long term. AKA, avoid ultimatums and punishment. The second is to use a redirect, then repair and repeat (ground rules) as your 3-step method of discipline.

Using these positive discipline strategies require you to be fully engaged with your child. Again, being impulsive breaks trust and you lose some of the gains you’ve both worked hard to achieve.

Lastly, consequences are better than punishment. Plus, avoid shaming, especially in public at all costs.

I hope this blog has been useful, and remember that you should be more focused on repairing bad behavior because being proactive and encouraging good behavior with rewards, fun, and positive emotions takes less effort than repairing the bad.

More Tips on How To Discipline Your Child

Featured photo credit: Leo Rivas via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NSPCC Learning: Positive parenting

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