Most children often think of bullying as strictly physical and only recognize outright "meanness" happening. But a lot of kids (or adults for that matter) may actually be bullies themselves without realizing it.
Here are some questions kids can ask themselves or parents can ask their kids to keep bullying in check.
1. Do I put people down to feel better about myself?
Where do your self-esteem come from? Does it come from others and putting other people down or does it come more from yourself? Are you proud of yourself no matter what you do? Someone who puts others down excludes other people at times because they do not want to be seen with them and they do not "fit in" as much.
2. Do I listen to people and respond appropriately?
Do I show empathy and understanding about people? Am I generally interested in what they have to say and want to help them? Do I generally care about them or do you give them automated responses? Other people make fun of others while they are talking or constantly interrupt them. That can be seen as bullying.
3. Do I want to be seen as tough?
Do you have more leadership qualities or are you the "tough" bully? If you use physical control and power to get your way such as shoving, taking, stealing, throwing, or teasing in a mean way then you might want to be seen as tough. A leader wouldn't have to do anything like that. Or they might stop something like that from happening.
4. Do I "call the shots" just because I can?
Do you boss people around just because you can and they are listening to your demands? Are you manipulative at times to get your way? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you necessarily should. It's ok to have that power and natural leadership ability, but again, doesn't mean it has to be used that way.
5. Do people trust me and come to me for advice?
You can't be a bully if this is true. Nobody wants to come to someone else if they are just going to be put down. Not many people open themselves up to that. If you generally care about people, it shows.
6. Do I have an appropriate sense of humor?
By appropriate I mean not being rude or sarcastic while people are talking. Without meaning to kids sometimes make people laugh often at someone else's expense, especially at school. It's ok to make people laugh, but unnecessary to hurt someone else in the process.
7. Have I bullied anyone online?
Saying things someone you wouldn't say in person, sending out hidden messages in status updates or comments, spreading messages, or looking at someone else's profile and teasing them behind their back with some of your other friends is actually cyber bullying.
8. Do you resolve conflicts appropriately?
The appropriate way to resolve conflict would be to confront the problem at the source directly. This does not include fighting or getting revenge either by yourself or through someone else. It also does not mean spreading rumors again, at the expense of someone else no matter how much they hurt you or have done something to wrong you.
9. Am I a bystander?
Do you sit by and watch some of these things happen without stopping them? Or are you the type of person to stop it in its tracks. A bystander is a bully by default or association.
Most of us are probably not "bullies" but I bet there are elements in there that might ring true. This might be something you may be doing or have done in the past. Even as a therapist, I can admit that there are times in my past and sometimes even now when I am not as nice as I could be and may be a bully without realizing it. It's ok to make mistakes, but the important thing is what are we doing to reconcile our mistakes. Or as parents, how are we teaching our children to correct these mistakes and stop being a bully?
It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice. What you say and do sticks with people and creates a lasting image for yourself and for their self and sense of self-worth. Let's all work to build each other up and not bring each other down.