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8 Simple Strategies to Bully Proof Your Kids

8 Simple Strategies to Bully Proof Your Kids

Bullying is an epidemic. No matter how well you raise your kids or where you live, there are cliques in every school and—depending on where they fit into the school hierarchy—your child can become the victim of bullying.

People have a natural tendency to crave power, and when grouped up they can do some very mean things. It’s not always black and white though. Whoever is bullying your child may not even realize they’re a bully; they could be playing pranks meant to be funny (and they are to them and their circle of friends) without stopping to think about the way the pranks are perceived by their victims. Our media-saturated society glorifies stunts like those pulled by the Jackass crew and a variety of web pranksters, and in the search for art kids can do some mean things to other kids.

As a parent, you’re the best guide your child has. If you don’t teach them how to deal with different people and social situations, they’ll learn on their own by either emulating what they see in the media or following the advice of those around them. Set the standard and bully proof your kids by getting involved in their lives and teaching them how to deal with complicated social situations. Here are eight simple strategies:

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1. Start Early

Talk to your kids about what happened to them during the day and how those things made them feel. This simple practice helps them understand their own feelings, building empathy for themselves and others. The earlier you establish open dialog with your kids, the more willing they are to open up to you later on, even if it’s to tell you things you don’t want to hear.

2. Teach Self-Defense

Getting in fights is unfortunately a normal part of schoolyard life. While it would be great if everyone learned to talk out their differences, it’s not always possible. The reality is that life is harsh, and everyone faces violence at some time. If you want your kid to walk with confidence, teach them how to defend themselves in case bullies become physical. There are martial arts dojos everywhere, and you can also find boxing and MMA gyms that will train children.

3. Build Mutual Trust

You have to be consistent with your child; you’re setting the standard for their perception of normal. If you regularly break promises to your kid (even little ones), they lose trust in you. You have to lay down the law sometimes, but when you’re a tyrant, your kid learns not to go to you. By the same measure, if you’re not open and honest about who you are and what you’ve been through, they may think you’re too square to understand.

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4. Show Compassion

You’re likely responsible for the way your child acts. Do you bully your kids, or do you involve them in family decisions and value their contributions? When someone wrongs you, how do you handle it? You set the example for your kid, so lead by example and show compassion in your own dealings. If your child sees you blow up at everyone who doesn’t do exactly what you want, they’ll see that as the way to respond. When you bully them, the bullying at school may end up feeling like it’s normal. Be the person you want your child to be; be the person they see you as.

5. Listen Carefully

Your kids may tell you that their stomach hurts, they don’t want to go to school or someone in their class is bugging them—these can all be signs of bullying. Make sure you’re truly involved in your child’s life (without violating their privacy), and listen to the verbal cues they give. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and scrutinize everything.

6. Be Their Ally

Always believe your children, but check things out for yourself. Be sure to get all the details before jumping to conclusions, but regardless of fault, always take your child’s side. There’s a good chance your child may be the bully. The difference is often difficult to tell, and you don’t want to add to the bullying on either side.

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7. Think Logically

When I was in school, everyone had a reputation or ran with a clique of some type. Decide where your child fits in that picture, and figure out a way to navigate through everything. If teachers are involved in “bullying” your child, there can be a huge issue with the school, your child, or the community. If you live in Utah, for example, and your child is gay, it may be in your best interest to move somewhere else.

8. Resolve As a Team

You’re an adult, and you’re the leader in the house. Involving yourself in your child’s problems can range from a pep talk to a side-by-side tag team, depending on the situation. There may be legal issues involved, and you never know what people will put on the internet these days. However you choose to resolve the issue, make it the responsibility of the entire family so your child doesn’t feel isolated at home after a long day of being bullied.

Bullying gets complicated, and there’s no one way to deal with it. Standing up to a bully looks great on TV, but in reality it can be a one-way ticket to Knockout-land (or something much worse). The bully may be much larger, or it could be a huge group of people. You don’t want to set your child up to be ganged up on.

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By acting responsibly yourself, maintaining open communication with your child, and working together, you’ll help bully proof your child, and with any luck, they’ll be strong enough to set the example for others around them.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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