Got No Friends?
Bullying can be characterized as a state in which an imbalance of power exists between two people. One might exercise physical strength to control the other or reveal embarrassing information about the other in front of friends or family. The bully might use psychological or physical warfare to make the other person’s life miserable. The behavior can become repetitive, anxiety provoking, and can virtually take over the bullied person’s life. This is especially true when the person being bullied is a child.
Different circumstances and different levels of coping skills can be the determining factors in why a child becomes a bully. Perhaps his or her parents are overly strict. Maybe he or she does not receive loving attention from the parents. Insecurity and being a loner can result in bullying behaviors. The child that stands out as being angry or overly sensitive can end up displaying bullying behaviors as well. Both parents and teachers should be aware of these symptoms to help a child stop the negative behaviors before they begin. The harm caused by bullying behaviors is far reaching.
“I feel like I have no friends.”
Hearing a child say, “I feel like I have no friends,” can be a painful thing for any parent to hear. Clearly, being bullied at school can cause a child to feel excluded and friendless. It can adversely affect the child’s academic performance and make him or her feel uninterested in activities that he or she may have once felt enthusiastic about. It can manifest as teasing or taunting, or can take more serious forms such as physical injuries or threats of physical harm. Sadly, once it begins, bullying behavior can continue until the child honestly begins to believe, “I have no friends and no life.”
There are various forms of bullying, such as social bullying, in which a child is intentionally excluded from play groups, or is admonished by the bully that tries to turn one’s playmates away from the child, even when they are close friends. Bullying can also take the form of untrue rumors that cause the child to feel embarrassed and ashamed. For instance, a bully on the playground might taunt a child by saying, “Why would anyone be friends with you? You’re ugly!” Statements that undermine the child’s self esteem are common, and can do great psychological damage.
Children that are bullied do not always talk about the problem with their parents. Even children that feel close to their parents may attempt to hide it. However, there are many telltale-warning signs that that indicate when a child may be the victim of a bully. For instance, the bullied child may present with unexplained bruises and scrapes. He or she may manifest frequent signs of illness such as stomachaches, or may even fake being ill when it is time to get ready for school. The child may experience difficulty sleeping through the night or show a marked decrease in his or her self-esteem.
It is not unusual for children who are bullied to internalize their fears and grief, which only exacerbates the problem. As the bullying progresses, children can begin to feel alienated from their close friends and family. They can feel powerless and depressed. Sometimes this even leads to thoughts of suicide or worse. Despite being surrounded by friends and family, children can still feel alone, and oftentimes, are afraid or feel uncomfortable talking about their emotional pain.
Bullies have the uncanny ability to make even the most popular child feel unloved and unwanted. Aware parents will pick up on verbal cues from their children such as, “People don’t like me,” or “I have no one to talk to,” or other. This is the time to step in and be proactive to help salvage the child’s delicate self esteem.
- I can’t make friends.
- I have no friends and no life.
- Nobody likes me.
- I feel like a freak.
- I feel ugly.
- Why do I have no friends?
- I have no friends anymore.
In and of itself, being a loner does not necessarily mean that one’s child is being bullied. However, compounded with other warning signs, it can be a good indication that the time is right for parents to take action.
When a child says to his or her parents, “I have no friends,” or asks, “Why do I have no friends?” it is best to emphasize the child’s own inner strengths while still acknowledging that being friendless can be painful. Stressing strengths, rather than giving significance to the bully, gives a strong statement to the child, that he or she can overcome any obstacles placed in his or her path. When a child asks, “Why do I have no friends?” A short answer that deemphasizes the bully’s affect is most appropriate. For instance, the parent might respond with, “When we feel down in the dumps, it can seem that having no friends is a reality. Actually, however, you are quite liked, and it is no wonder with all of your strong qualities. Anyone would be lucky to be friends with you!”
While downplaying the affect of the bully, it is important not to be glib. The child should be given the impression that his or her parents take the situation very seriously. Bullying is a serious occurrence and parents should treat it accordingly. This is a time when parents’ listening is more important than talking. The child should be urged to express his or her feelings. The focus, however, should be placed on the bullied child’s inner strengths rather than on the power that the bully has over the child.
“People don’t like me.” and other no friends quotes
When a child is alienated to the point of thinking that others dislike him or her, it is important for parents to understand that the child may be very confused about what is happening. He or she may be thinking, “I have no one to talk to, “even if his or her family and friends are close by. This belief may be rooted in embarrassment about the bullying experience.
Speaking to the child about compassion and helping him or her understand that the bully does what he or she does from a sense of not belonging, too, may help a child understand the situation better. When the bullying takes place between close friends, parents should be particularly aware of the pain their child may be feeling. This is the time for much loving contact and patience as the child processes what has happened. Make statements along the lines of “Plenty of people want to be friends with you. It just seems like they don’t right now.” Any type of gentle, affirming and loving message can help.
Respecting one’s child is one of the best things that any parent can do to help that child overcome the bullying experience. Children that think, “People don’t like me,” should be reassured that they are loved and respected, and shown that they are by their parents’ words and deeds. There is no stronger message that has the potential to heal in the way that this does.
Most children in a school setting tend to be social. Therefore, the feeling of having no friends can be a very serious aspect of a child’s life. When the no friends quotes begin to occur, parents should visit the child’s school for parent-teacher conferences. Being outspoken to school authorities about what is going on can help them circumvent the problem and eliminate it before the child begins to feel genuinely friendless. Checking in with school authorities frequently after the conference can help keep the problem under control. Parents and teachers alike should make it clear that no child should ever think, “I have no one to talk to.” This is the time to join forces to make the bullied child feel loved and supported.
Communication is key when dealing with bullies. There are times when parents are unaware that their children are participating in bullying behaviors. If at all possible, parents should request conferences with the bully’s parents in the presence of school authorities to work through any problems.
Whether the child in question is the bully or the one being bullied, the best thing parents can do to help is to be good role models themselves. This may sound like overly-simplistic advice, but by setting up boundaries and providing a loving, structured environment for their children, parents decrease the chances that one will become a bully, and increase the chances of developing better coping skills for the child that is bullied. Parents should never be afraid to speak out against bullying, and to lead their children on positive, productive paths. Bullying can adversely affect a child for the rest of his or her life. When parents really listen to them, and offer them love, security and protection, they help their children develop the emotional skills that can eliminate bullying behaviors altogether.