When discussing bullying, the majority of people think of bullies as other students or a child’s peers. In some cases, the bullies that cause the most damage are the parents. This can often be seen at athletic events where overzealous parents berate the opposing teams’ players and coaches. Parents who push their children to compete will often degrade or humiliate them if they make mistakes or don’t perform well enough to meet their standards.
Aggressive parenting tactics are often considered harsh and unyielding. While the children who grow up in that type of environment are brought up to believe it is normal, it allows them to believe that aggression and humiliation are common and acceptable methods of teaching. Berating children and humiliating them until they perform adequately can lower a child’s self esteem and lead to depression and other emotional problems.
Children who are brought up in a home were capital punishment is common, often learn more out of fear than out of the desire to understand. Aggressive parenting tactics can include mental, emotional and physical forms of abuse. Parents force their children to do what they are told by threatening them with a variety of punishments ranging from lengthy periods of time outs to spankings.
In some circles of society, parents who scold or reprimand their children publicly are often considered to be overly aggressive. Parenting styles range from family to family. Not everyone will agree with another person’s choices. Professionals in the field are often asked to weigh in on what the exact line is between overly aggressive parenting tactics and physical/verbal abuse.
It is common knowledge that the majority of people believe that abuse that occurs in the home can be even more damaging than that which occurs in a school setting. Children strive to gain the love and affection of their parents. When a parent uses an overly aggressive method of parenting, the child may begin to question their own value and doubt the parents’ love.
Counselors and therapists claim there is a fine line between aggressive forms of discipline and bullying. Parents who are under large amounts of stress due to their jobs or financial issues can often go overboard on discipline. Discipline is meant to teach children right from wrong. Parents who use discipline as a tool for control are often considered bullies due to the nature of the tactics they use.
A child who accidentally breaks a dish or spills food on the floor can be disciplined with a few minutes in time out or being deprived of their favorite game. Parents who call their child names or make fun of them for being accident prone, can actually cause the child to be extremely self-conscious.
Parents who realize their actions are hurtful to their children may seek counseling to help them resolve their issues. Although they may not realize the extent of their actions, it is most often quickly brought to their attention when they begin to display angry outbursts at their childs’ athletic events. Over the years, many instances of parents bullying their children on a ball field has resulted in the parent being asked to leave the facility. This type of behavior can be distressing to the child and upsetting to the other parents.
Children who are bullied at home by their parents or older siblings, will often become bullies at school. When bullying behaviors are taught by parents, young children automatically begin to accept them as normal behavior. It isn’t until they enter school that other forms of discipline are learned. Once bullying patterns are taught, either through parental discipline or verbal/emotional/physical abuse, they will remain with the child until they are unlearned or something more prominent takes their place.
During the formative years, constant bullying from older siblings can create patterns of aggression that last through the child’s developmental phases and on into their school years. Children will often treat others according to how they were treated in the past. This means that if they were constantly yelled at or made fun of by a parent, their reaction to others would be the same.
If the pattern were allowed to continue on past high school, it is quite probable that the same behaviors would be used on their own children as well. Therapists and psychologists believe that in most cases, a child who was bullied by his or her parents would, in turn, bully their own children. It has been proven through various studies that children who were physically abused by their parents, eventually abused their own children in the same fashion.
The cycle of abuse that begins with the parents is perpetuated as the child grows to be an adolescent and then into an adult. To stop the cycle of abuse and eliminate the bullying mentality, measures must be taken early on. It is often hard to approach a parent who is believed to be a bully due to the fact that their response is unknown. Will they become aggressive to the individual or will they turn their aggression onto the child after the individual leaves?
The question creates a slippery slope that many prefer to avoid. The problem is how to protect the child or prevent them from continuing to be bullied. In this situation there are no easy answers and great care must be taken to keep the child from being injured or caught in the middle of a verbal altercation between the adults.
Parents who are aware that their parenting styles or overly aggressive behavior may be damaging to their children, will often seek counseling to help them deal with issues on a more appropriate levels. In some cases, a parent may be forced through the court to take parenting classes or counseling to help them learn why their behavior is damaging.
Parenting styles have changed dramatically over the last 40 years. What was once acceptable in many homes, is now frowned up and considered to be detrimental to a child’s emotional and mental development. Many parents have no idea that disciplinary methods used when they were a child are no longer acceptable by today’s standards.
Some states and churches recommend parenting classes to newlywed couples who are considering starting a family. The hope is that old parenting patterns will be replaced with newer, less aggressive methods of discipline and instruction. High schools and colleges are also joining the trend by implementing zero tolerance bullying programs designed to help students understand why bullying is so dangerous. Showing children and teens how destructive bullying can be, will hopefully encourage them to use less aggressive parenting tactics when they have children of their own.
Parents who bully their children do not realize the harm they are doing until they watch them begin to bully others. They also do not relate bullying to their disciplinary methods because they are acting in much the same way that their parents did. Behavioral studies performed over the years show that children who have been raised in abusive homes often become abusers themselves. Psychologists who have witnessed the patterns, have been encouraging parents to change their discipline styles for several years.
Teachers and school faculty members may approach the parents of children who seem overly aggressive in the hopes of offering them help. While some parents take offense to the offer, others begin to realize how destructive their patterns really are. Teaching children by example and encouraging them to learn from their mistakes are positive ways for parents to turn their aggressive parenting habits into more productive experiences.
Parenting methods have changed over the years. Overly aggressive disciplinary tactics have given way to more instructional forms of punishment. While there are still parents who use spanking, time outs and other disciplinary measures, many are attempting to use more positive ways to get children to comply with family rules. Aggressive forms of discipline and bullying tactics are being frowned upon, mainly due to the fact that children who are exposed to them often repeat them in school or on the athletic field.
Sources: http://www.experienceproject.com/question-answer/Why-Do-Some-Mothers-Bully-Their-Own-Children-Or-One-Of-Their-Children/334162, http://beyondbullies.org/bullying-faqs/2650-2/