I saw red. My eyes blazed with venomous stupor. But this is what happened when my adrenalin rose to that level, when my anger became so uncontrollable I thrived on the sentiment it provided: someone got hurt…
…I shook off my own unease, the acid that wept from my gut in rejection of my actions and the person I was just starting to become. This fear I used to springboard my actions. I needed my actions, my new found persona to make sense to me. Respect was a word I took consolation from. This was how I stifled my upset from seeing the broken state I put this boy in.
An excerpt from Chapter One (Escapism) of Once Bad Intentions. My protagonist and narrator, Stephanie Johnson, has just beaten up a young boy named Christopher really badly on her first day at secondary school because he dissed her. She’s eleven years old and responds to a name calling with brutality. Being dissed, however trivial the words and limp the intent, will be a huge social injustice for any young person grappling with a dysfunctional perception on how to deal with social misdemeanours.
But where do these misguided perceptions on how to interact and respond to our peers come from?
In Stephanie’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. At home she was, along with her siblings, the subject of aggression, dictatorship and control by her god-fearing mother. The excessive beatings were accepted forms of punishment by their close-nit community. It was considered to be done in love…yes love drove the curtain wire that ricochetted on your behind…love being the driving force that makes you want to deter your children from any wrong-doing by any means necessary. Deter them from taking the unsavoury path that you yourself took as a child. The apple never falls far…
So in loving your children, here are a few tips to preventing your young adolescent child from becoming the bully-victim:
1. Communication. Communication. Communication.
Whilst most would say they communicate every day through speaking and listening, communicating effectively means your message is received and understood so that it lands well with the recipient. This means understanding your children, respecting their concerns and values so you can tailor your message in line with their needs. If a child feels that their pain is being heard, understood and cared for, they will respond more positively to your message.
2. Explain Yourself
Children, human beings, have a right to know why you are asking something of them. As developing beings, children are more likely to require explanations to help them understand your intent, your reasonings, your purpose in your expectations and asks of them. This helps to build trust, respect and the actual understanding of you, parent/guardian.
3. Express Love
Of course you love your children, you assisted in the creation of them. But don’t assume your children always know you love them. Sometimes as a child you can extend disputes and the raw emotions that can come with them into an elongated current version of how you think the other person feels. Remind your children of how much you love them, daily.
4. Acknowledge their feelings
In times of tantrums, aggression or other distasteful expressions of their feelings, don’t silence, isolate them in their expression. Question, explore and try to understand their upset with the intention of resolve. This way we encourage our children and young people to address how they feel rather than bottling things up. We also create an opportunity to offer guidance on better ways of expressing the self.
Be aware of yourself, your actions, your spirit and your values. Children are like sponges, they absorb everything. If you’re constantly depressed, your child will sense and absorb your depression whether you verbalise or not. Be aware of the energy you emanate and the values you both speak of and uphold.