Why Are They Being So Mean?

“Mum, my teacher hates me! I’m never going to school again! It’s boring and they don’t let me play or have fun. I was only talking to my friends for a few minutes but she got so angry and put my name up on the board. Now I have to pick up litter in my lunch break.”

“Dad, Keiran told all the kids in my class that I am a weirdo and threw my books on the floor. They were all laughing at me.”

“Dad, my teacher pulled me up in front of the whole class. Everyone else was talking but she singled me out and embarrassed me in front of them all. She always does it. She overlooks what the other kids are doing and picks on me all the time.”

“Mum, Sienna told me that I dress like a loser, said I’m ugly and that nobody likes me. She is really mean and ALWAYS puts me down in front of people. It’s awful.”


Sound familiar? Protestations like these are heard by many parents on a daily basis. If your child came home with similar troubles what would you do?

Instinct tells us to protect and nurture our children, storm into the fray, confront the students or teachers who are causing such pain and humiliation and defend our fledglings from ‘bad people’ who seem hell bent on crushing young spirits and dampening enthusiasm. As attractive as this may be, it is, however, not the best approach if you are hoping to raise an empowered and independent adult.

Assuming there is no physical violence involved and the problems are within reason and the law, dominance based bullying challenges can provide a valuable life experience. This in turn allows individuals to develop important problem solving skills and potentially become stronger, more compassionate and personally empowered individuals. All that is missing from the mix, in order to turn these tragedies into triumphs is a rather dramatic shift in thinking and some well placed support.

For children to grow into able, well formed adults with emotional flexibility and the skills to manage challenging situations, it is necessary for them to experience opposition in some form along the way. In these circumstances, again, within reason, it is far better to help your child develop strategies for overcoming and moving beyond the conflicts and difficulties they are facing. You should always be ready and willing to step in and support them if necessary but if they are (even reluctantly) willing and able, resolving difficulties and problem solving when faced with hostility, injustice and unkindness is a skill well worth developing.

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher”
Dalai Lama

After all, you can’t climb a mountain if it’s not there.


Karen Clarke
Author ‘From Bullied to Brilliant’