Monday, June 9, 2014

BULLY FOR YOU: THE MAMA TALKS ABOUT SAVING YOUR SELF

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Welcome to BULLY FOR YOU. Our guest postess today is the ever-popular Sherry Ellis, a.k.a. The Mama, who blogs at Mama Diaries. Sherry claims that she was bullied because she was  a geek. Hard to imagine, isn't it? Sherry is so cool.



Saving Your Self

by
Sherry Ellis


There are three reasons bullies bully. One, they hate themselves. Two, they see you as a threat. Three, they want to be you.

I think most of us have been victims of bullies at one time or another. I know I was. Sixth and
seventh grade were the worst. I was a short, skinny, geeky kid who had crooked teeth and wore glasses – the perfect victim. Being shy and quiet, I didn’t know what to say when the mean kids hurled their insults at me. When I told my mom, she said, “They’re just jealous.”

I looked in the mirror and thought, Jealous of what?  Now that I’m a mom, I can see there’s some truth to what she said. There are lots of things people can be jealous of – not just looks. It might be about your brains, or work ethic, or your personality.

What I tell my kids – especially my daughter who’s now in middle school and experiencing some of this nastiness – is that you should never let anyone change who you are. Look at your strengths and focus on those. Be proud of what makes you special. And remember the reasons people bully.

That said, sometimes knowing this isn’t enough. My husband and I have also tried to give our kids some “comeback lines” for when bullies say nasty things. We’ve also given them self-defense skills through Krav Maga to help them if they ever have a physical encounter with a bully. Hopefully this will never happen, but it’s best to be prepared.

It would be nice if everyone always got along and treated each other with respect. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Bullies are a part of life. So what we have to do is respect ourselves, learn self-defense skills and teach our kids to do the same.

I'm not at all surprised that Sherry's post is straightforward and provides easy-to-follow advice. That's the kind of person she is. I hope you'll leave some love for Sherry in the comments, and consider stopping by her blog. If you don't follow Sherry, then you'll probably want to start. I love my daily dose of the antics in Sherry's house.

And now I have to learn what Krav Maga is. Or maybe you can give us a quick explanation, Sherry. Having self-defense skills seems wise to me.

Thank you, Sherry!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

76 comments:

  1. My daughter has her 13-yr-old daughter immediately call her mother when anyone bullies. This has been going on for at least a year--since she got her an iphone. I do NOT think my g-daughter ought to have to put up with bullying. But, I wish she could learn to handle some of the lesser things before my daughter, her mother, gets involved.

    I finally broke down and gave my son some comeback lines, and the other kid was speechless. The child never said another thing mean to him. I learned after this that my son was very popular with all the children, and that everyone wanted to play with him. So, I suppose it was jealousy. This is when he was three and in playschool. That was way back in 1971.

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    1. I gave Favorite Young Man and The Hurricane some come-back lines. I guess my ideas weren't very good because they didn't work.

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    2. Bullying has been around a long time. Unfortunately, I don't thing it will be going away any time soon.

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  2. Hi, Sherry! I've seen you around our circle for years and it is a pleasure to connect with you "face to face" here at Janie's place. I agree that people bully for the reasons you stated. Bullies have low self esteem. They feel inadequate and powerless and derive a sense of power by preying on the meek. An important source of fuel for bullies is the positive reinforcement they get by performing for an audience - a clique - a group of people with similar self esteem issues who gravitate to the bully, find safety in numbers and spur the bully on to commit acts of aggression. Imagine what it would be like if an empowered victim could separate the bully from the herd, sit down with him or her one-on-one and, by means of direct, open, honest, sincere, courteous communication, build rapport and turn an enemy into a friend. I choose to believe such an outcome is possible through the use of Aikido, the Japanese art of self-defense that employs the principle of nonresistance and uses the opponent's own momentum against him. In context, it means that you meet your adversary at his or her map of the world, invite them to express what specifically is bothering them, identify areas of agreement and gently lead them to a mutually satisfying resolution. In the war against hate, love is our most potent weapon.

    Thank you, dear Sherry, for sharing your story with us today.

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    1. I like the concept of Aikido. It's just so hard for a middle school kid to be able to separate the bully from the audience, and then to have the maturity for such a civil discussion. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I've seen you around, too, and it's nice to connect with you here!

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  3. When I first started school, my mom gave me one piece of advice. "Don't start any fights, but you damn well finish it." She didn't really give me any lines on what to say, but she had raised me with sarcastic humor so I think she trusted that I could figure it out on my own. I think what she said was more of giving me permission to defend myself and fight back, so that I would know she wouldn't be disappointed. Which is basically what you have done also and what all parents and school authority figures should do. If somebody is jumped in the middle of the hall and throw one punch in self defense, they should not be penalized for not wanting to take a beating.

    But thank you, for raising your kids to know and understand that they have the power to protect themselves and that they should do so. Too many people come to believe that they deserve it and stop fighting back, which is when the bullies start to win.

    Love,
    Rachel

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    1. I agree with you. Unfortunately, if a kid throws a punch in self defense, it is often seen as an act of aggression and punished by teachers.

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  4. Dear Sherry, I don't remember bullying back in the '40s and '50 when I was in school. I'm not saying there wasn't any, but I wasn't aware of it. And I didn't see much of it when I was teaching in the '60s. So your posting with the three reasons for bullying is an eye-opener to me. Thank you. Peace.

    Dear Janie, I so appreciate your doing this series of postings. They are helping me understand what I read in the newspapers about bullying leading to suicide. Thank you. Peace.

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    1. I think the young people who commit suicide are pushed farther and farther on a daily basis until they can't take anymore. They also learn about other suicides on the news, making suicide an option.

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    2. I have to wonder if family life was happier in the 40s and 50s if bullying wasn't so prevalent back then. Your comment is really interesting!

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    3. I think bullies have always been around and perhaps Dee wasn't as aware of them as some people are. Many people idealize the fifties as a wonderful time for family life, but if that were the case, then, when I was younger, why did we have so many groups for adult survivors of incest or for the adult children of alcoholic parents? I think bullying, like some other problems, is more widely discussed now. A number of women told me that when they were unmarried and young during the 40s and 50s that they had sex, and many of them became pregnant; but the pregnancy was covered up or the young man involved would step up and marry the girl. Young, unmarried people were having sex, but few people talked about it. We have wider forums for discussion now, and many of us are not afraid to speak up about problems.

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  5. My mom also would say "They're just jealous," and I never understood that either.

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    1. My mom said, Insult Insult Insult No wonder nobody likes you. Willy Dunne Wooters says that with my mom I didn't need enemies.

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    2. It really baffled me at the time when my mom said that. So I try to explain to my daughter that they're jealous of her intelligence. She's a very pretty girl, but there's no convincing her of that. But if I show her the grades she gets, it's pretty obvious that she's smart.

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  6. Hey Janie! Thanks for having me as a guest! Krav Maga is an Israeli martial art. It's how the military is trained in Israel. Basically, it looks a lot like street fighting, but it incorporates respect and focus. My son has really enjoyed it, and it's done a lot to boost his self confidence.

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    1. I think that's the kind of skill that would have helped The Hurricane's confidence. Since she moved to California, she has taken some self-defense classes because of the craziness she encounters every day just going to work. Thank you for your post, Sherry. It's great.

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  7. This is a great post.
    I like the way you've framed it as developing self defense skills. Bullies can erode a child/persons self esteem and have lasting impact.

    you're mum was right, and J.J.. you are cool Sherry
    .. and very talented!

    Krav Maga?!.. yes i'm curious too.. what is that?

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    1. Thanks so much for joining us.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Dawna, and for your nice comments. Krav Maga is an Israeli Martial Art that the military uses. You can read more about it in the previous comment.

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  8. Bullies are insecure. They don't want others to achieve what they cannot and they are often unforgiving. Well said, Sherry.

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  9. I love that you're teaching them verbal and physical defense. It's been my experience (usually) that once you give the bully a sharp jab (whether it's verbal or physical), he or she will leave you alone.

    -andi

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    1. I hope those skills help my kids. Some bullies are just impossible, though!

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  10. It's nice to see some straightforward good advice! Thank you, Sherry and Janie.

    Luvya, Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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    1. I'm learning from these guest posts. I wish I had known so much of this advice 30 years ago.

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    2. You are welcome, Cherdo! Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Sadly, a sharp jab, either verbal or physical, sometimes does not work but only reinforces the bullying behavior. I will say a prayer for your children ... and that bully.

    I am currently being bullied at work. Sigh. I wrote a post on it recently:
    http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2014/05/have-you-ever-been-bullied-at-work.html

    Well written piece, Sherry :-)

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    1. Sorry to hear this, Roland. I hope it stops soon! Thank you for stopping by.

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  12. It is a shame that bullying is such a problem. It is good for parents to prepare our children as best we can for these kinds of things they will face as you say by teaching them to embody self-respect and to learn how to fight the lies that are implanted in the psyche by this kind of thing. Good post and series. Thanks. Maria @ Delight Directed Living

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    1. Thanks for joining us, Maria.

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    2. I wish we could eliminate bullies. There's been a lot of effort to try to teach kids not to bully in the elementary schools, but once kids get to that middle school age, it gets really bad.

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  13. That's why I love the song "Mean" by Taylor Swift. It's true that often the bullied kids turn out to be beautiful, successful, strong grown-ups. It's like the struggles made us stronger. But I'd suspect most of the time people bully because they feel very insecure--and they were taught that at home by being bullied by their own parents. You have to feel sorry for them.

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    1. When I was a young adult, I worked with another young woman who was very domineering. My boyfriend and I went out to lunch with her and her boyfriend after she demanded it repeatedly and I didn't know how to say no. I was shocked to discover that her boyfriend was a bully and that she was submissive when she was with him. Perhaps her parents bullied her, too.

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    2. "Mean" has been one of my daughter's favorite songs. She can't wait to show the bullies that she's going to be successful!

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  14. Fantastic advice Sherry. Krav Maga is the best for self-defense. I'm sorry kids were mean to you and are now mean to your own children. The cruelty of children always surprises me.

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    1. It must be something with trying to establish hierarchies and feeling powerful or important.

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  15. Great advice Sherry. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Excellent post, Sherry. I love your advice too. I worry for when my little guy heads into the school in our distract which has a horrible reputation for bullying.

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    1. That is so sad! I hope it's not too rough a ride for your little guy, and for you!

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  17. Excellent post, Sherry. I worry for when my little guy starts school at the elementary school in our district. It has a horrible reputation for bullying.

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  18. A great post. Parents need to teach their kids how to deal with bullies because they're a part of life. Great advice here.

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  19. Great post Sherry. I went through it in high school. Sadly; I wasnt given the prep by my parents, I had to deal with it on my own. It made me stronger though and strived even harder. Learning self defense is a really good advice.

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    1. I think a lot of really nice, strong people, have gone through it. Wish we didn't have to, but somehow, it helped build character.

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  20. Excellent post, and so much good discussion here in the comments. I am so glad that my daughter has not yet been faced with anything like this. She will be a junior next year and has never experienced anything close to bullying. Sounds like you are taking a very reasonable approach with your kids. That's nice to see. I agree that bullies have always been around, and are probably not going away.

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    1. I'm happy to hear your daughter hasn't had to deal with bullying. She's lucky!

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  21. Holy crap, your kids know Krav Maga!?! You aren't kidding around about preparedness. I also like that you arm them with comebacks. Seventh grade was the worst time for me too. Great post and great advice.

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    1. Krav Maga has been awesome. I wish I had learned some of those moves when I was in the seventh grade!

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    2. You have me longing to learn Krav Maga.

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  22. Sherry, some wonderful tips you provide here. It's sad that bullying continues today and in some cases, gets so out of hand. Having the self defense skills, along with understanding why bullies do what they do, is a great way to prepare kids (and adults) to meet the challenges.

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  23. Bullies tend to have a false bravado thing going on, and it usually crumbles if the person being bullied stands up for himself, and best scenario, the two might even end up being friends. That's the way things used to be, anyway. Nowadays, there's no telling. I used humor to defuse that sort of thing when I was a kid, but I honestly don't know if that would work now.

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    1. Humor worked for me in elementary school, but when I suggested the same "lines" to The Hurricane, she said they didn't do any good. I think today's bullies tend to be more aggressive.

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    2. Humor never worked in the situations I was in, or in what my daughter is facing. The bullies just don't have a sense of humor.

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  24. I think the self defense course is a fantastic idea! Whoohoo!
    I always told Dagan that bullies have to put other people down in order to make themselves feel "better than" somebody else. It is a sad way to raise yourself up and try to feel good about yourself, but humans have done it...well, always. It's a short term, dangerous way to go about finding comfort. But bullies are often broken or damaged people. The worst thing you can do is let them know they are getting to you because then they will swarm and pick like some animals do to the weak, sick or injured. But if they absolutely won't leave you alone--don't take any crap from them, either. That is why self-defense is good. But these days they can bully online. But most bullies are cowards to begin with, so it is no surprise.

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    1. Online bullying is a big problem. The best thing to do with that is stay off line.

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  25. Joining you from over at Sherry's site.

    Thanks to sherry for sharing her story. Though thankfully I wasn't bullied myself my (naughty) little sisters school days were made a misery by bullies and sadly she passed her fears onto her daughter whose teachers informed my sister that the bullying was her daughters problem because she had victim written all over her face.

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    1. No child has "victim" written all over her face. That's a teacher's excuse for refusing to intervene.

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    2. I agree with Janie. The teacher just didn't want to deal with it, so that was her excuse.

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  26. Sherry, I was bullied at several times in my life. The one that most effected my life was in HS. You are right about what makes them "bully" others. I'm heading on over to your blog.

    Janie, good guest post.

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  27. Sherry, that's a rocktastic story. I think we've all had that experience at some point, and yes, you have to be prepared to defend yourself in this big bad world. Some days I wish I could go thump the chests of some parents and tell them to get in the game and teach their kids better decorum. Alas, kids will be kids.

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    1. Unfortunately, a lot of bully kids have parents that bully. I've had to deal with some of that, too.

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  28. Hi Janie and Sherry,

    Sherry, an extremely thoughtful post. Your words on bullying resonate with me. I also realised that bullying went beyond the playground. I was subjected to over eight years of bullying at work. Physical, psychological and the corruption cost me wages. I lost everything through it with the exception of my dignity. I am stronger now.

    A bully needs an audience. A bully needs an easy target. A bully is very insecure and needs the easy target to make them feel better about themselves.

    Thank you to the both of you.

    Gary

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    1. Your comments about bullies are so true! I'm sorry you had to go through what you did for so long.

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  29. My grandson Blain is having a problem with a bully at school and is annoyed that he can't just deck the kid, he feels if he punches him he will stop picking on him but his parents keep telling him to tell a teacher Blain says what is the point they do nothing punching the kid would work better he may be right but we can't tell him that

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    1. That's a tough one. I think my husband would encourage my kids to just punch the bully. I tend to take a more peaceful approach and ignore them.

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  30. I'm always so amazed at what kids have to put up with, and how little intervention they get from adults. It doesn't do any good to find out years later about the torment and abuse.

    Parents, we gotta do better at being the hero and teaching our kids to separate themselves from the bully. No one bullies in a room by themselves.

    Good post, Janie!
    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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  31. Good job, Sherry.
    When I get back home from my Cleft Heart book tour, I'll try to dig up and share some of the self-defense tactics besides Krav Maga that might be useful for anti-bully warriors. Verbal comebacks are key, too. They remind me of the "moral jiu-jitsu" that Gandhi used to advocate. More on that when I return to my files, too.

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    1. A set of self-defense tactics called The Gracie Bullyproof Program evolved from the Gracie Brothers' Jiu Jitsu Combatives program which is taught to adults for self-defense.

      It involves the Three T approach:
      Talk to a trusted adult about your bullying episode/s
      Tell someone in authority, and
      Tackle the issue verbally first and physically only as a last resort for physical preservation via a Gracie jiu jitsu “hug” hold until help arrives.

      This video— "How to "BULLYPROOF" the BULLY (The Gracie Way)" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2jR00MSBJQ—explains the tactics.

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Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.