Finding out that one’s child is being bullied will alarm any parent. But an Inquirer article warns about parents unknowingly bullying their own children.
Psychologist Ma. Lourdes “Honey” Carandang has patients who still carry emotional scars because they were bullied by family members. Here are the mistakes she mentioned that might be happening in your own home that should be stopped:
Using negative labels as a form of discipline
A child might be called “tanga” (stupid) because of an accidental spill or “tamad” (lazy) because of a forgotten chore. This author personally knows families that even believe in using labels like “stupid” or “ugly” to keep evil spirits away from the child. Using these words will hurt any person, including your children.
Favoring one child over the other
Comparing is a no-no but it is difficult to avoid. It can be very subtle – Carandang cited that the way a mother regularly introduced her son as “ang aking anak na cute” (my cute child) led the daughter [“ang isa ko pang anak” (my other child)] to develop a poor self-image.
Another source of resentment is when parents take sides – especially when they do not know the whole story. Sometimes parents always scold the older sibling because they expect the kuya or ate to be more mature and give way to the younger one. However, this can be unfair and possibly allows the bunso to abuse being the youngest.
Role modeling bullying behavior
Children pick things up very quickly. A husband who bullies his wife (or vice versa!) in front of their children subliminally teaches them that this kind of behavior is okay. In this case, their children learn through observation and take the lesson with them when they venture outside the home.
In school, the son becomes a bully while the daughter becomes a victim of bullying. In the future, the vicious cycle continues when they themselves get married and have children.
What’s a parent to do?
The first step is awareness. Many of these behaviors are done subconsciously – it is how we ourselves were raised. This is actually the most difficult step, admitting that something is wrong and needs to be changed.
Next comes learning alternative ways of doing or saying things. If you need to discipline a child, tell her what she could have done like being more mindful next time. Then allow the child to rectify the error by wiping the spill or doing the chore. No name-calling necessary!
There may already be an Anti-Bullying Law but we must stop bullying at its roots. Let us ensure that our homes really are safe places where all members feel unconditional love and acceptance.
READ: Anti Bullying Act: Helping Schools Keep Your child Safe
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