7 Surefire Ways To Bullyproof Your Child!

V for VICTORS


“You are not a victim. No matter what you have been through, you’re still here. You may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated you. You are still here! You have been delayed but not denied. You are not a victim, you are a victor. You have a history of victory.”

~ Steve Maraboli, ”Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience” 

 

 

What happens when you call someone a victim? Write down your thoughts.

 

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My very simple but effective approach to begin bullyproofing a child is to make sure that they are never labeled with the word “victim.”

What does “victim” mean?IMAG1424

According to Dictionary.com, a victim is a “person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion.”

By calling a child a “victim,” it suggests that their behavior is unlikely to change and they will remain a victim; someone who will always struggle in their life and be seen as inferior by others. It tells them that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope to survive and succeed.

In her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,”  Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck notes that labels can limit how children see themselves and how other children and adults see them. She argues that every label sends a message that tells children how to think about themselves. Too often, the messages say, “You have permanent traits and I’m judging them,” as opposed to “You are a developing person and I am interested in your development.”

When a child is called a “victim,” they may consider themselves weak and become ashamed of who they are. They may even start thinking that they deserve it for whatever reason.

Let me ask you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear a story of a kid being bullied, or your own child comes home and tells you that they were bullied in school or on the playground? My guess is that you would feel bad, sympathetic, and then may label that child a “victim.”

Whenever I speak to parents about victim vs victor, they get confused and some even don’t like the idea. You might also be wondering how and why the word victim is so important in helping a child prevent being bullied? It’s not your fault, and I’m not blaming you, because calling a bullied child a “victim” has become a norm in our society nowadays. It’s easier to sympathize with someone and most of us find it harder to empower them or suggest a genuine solution.

It’s very important to understand the negative impact of the word “victim” on a child and what you can do to change that. Along my personal journey of self-empowerment one thing stood out for me: the language we use to address an issue or an individual makes a huge difference and impacts our lives beyond our imagination.

When we call someone “victim” we accept that child’s circumstances as permanent. The word victim robs a bullied child of their ability to fight back. It makes them feel that they are not capable of overcoming the situation of being bullied. The word victim plays a huge part in bringing down self-esteem and confidence. The child does not see a way out and starts accepting a wrong reality that they will be forever bullied.

Here is the reality: the way we view ourselves influences us much more than we understand. It forms our perspective about life and how we deal with our mistakes or shortfalls accordingly. If we view ourselves as “victims” and stay in that mindset, it will be very difficult for us to avert more abuse coming in our way.

 

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
~ John W. Gardner

 

Let me share a moment of my life when I became a “victim.” I was only five years old. I had just started going to school and I was so happy because I was learning new things. I was making new friends. I was playing around in school, goofing around. You can probably relate to that. I was probably very much like you when you were five, not caring about money, not caring about food; everything was provided for you and mostly it was fun time. Some of you, like me, were probably trying to learn how to ride your new bicycle. Can you imagine when you used to hang upside down from those monkey bars, coming down from twisty slides and the sound of the wind touching your hair? And maybe you, like me, were also trying to steal cookies from mama’s jar.

Now this innocent life, those happy days, changed for me in a matter of few minutes when, one day all the other kids left the classroom for lunch, and I was about to do the same thing. I saw these three older boys walking in the classroom. They closed the door and turned off the lights. As soon as I saw their faces, I knew I was in trouble because I had seen these boys beating up on other kids in school. They were the school bullies. And here I was, looking at them, and I thought for sure this big beating was coming. So I started preparing myself mentally for that beating.

I can still remember a tiny ray of sunlight coming through a broken, tinted glass window, I can still hear other kids laughing and screaming on the playground and I can still smell the oak desks. Now, what happened next is something really tragic for a five-year-old boy. Looking back I can’t even imagine any child going through that. These boys forced me down and did something unspeakable. I did not know what hit me. I was in pain. I was just a five-year-old boy. I did not know what was going on. I went to school to learn A-B-C-D, not R-A-P-E. I tried to open my mouth and scream for help but I couldn’t because I was afraid of these older boys. I thought if I screamed that they would beat me up, so I kept quiet. The trauma lasted for about five to six minutes. Those boys left the classroom mocking me because for them, it was just fun and games and there I was sitting with my pants down, still in complete shock, not comprehending what happened.

I behaved as nothing had happened and going straight home after school as I did before. That usual 15 minute walk felt never ending that day. When I entered my home, my mother looked at me and she asked, “What happened, Faisal? Is there anything wrong?” And I said, “Uh, no. Everything’s fine.” You know why? Because I was afraid that I would get a beating from my parents because that’s how they used to handle things like that. I used to get beatings from my own parents every other day, and sometimes even for the things that I did not do. Now, that night, when I was lying down in my bed, I could not sleep because this scene was playing in my mind like a horror movie on a loop.

I didn’t tell anyone what happened to me because I didn’t know what to say. I thought I would get into trouble. I started to think of the things I could have done, like I could have left before these boys entered the classroom. It just kept on playing over and over in my mind and for some reason I didn’t feel safe enough to tell my parents, my teachers, or even any of my friends. I started blaming myself for what happened to me.

This horrific incident changed my personality. I became a quiet, shy boy, who kept everything inside and never talked to anyone. I never expressed my feelings because I was scared if I talked to someone, they might tell it to my parents or my teachers and  they might punish me. I just stopped trusting people.

I started thinking of myself as a victim. Along with that, my self-esteem went down the toilet. Confidence? What is confidence? I had no idea. Bullies saw that and that’s when I started getting bullied in school too. I embraced the life of a victim. I was always terrified especially around older boys or with someone else in the room. Since I behaved like a victim, I started to get bullied more often. That’s what bullies look for; they know that anybody who behaves like a victim is not going to put a struggle or fight back. 

“The problem that we have with a victim mentality is that we forget to see the blessings of the day. Because of this, our spirit is poisoned instead of nourished.”
~ Steve Maraboli, ”Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience”

I wish I had help, somebody who was there for me, who could have taken me away from being victimized and taught me how to be a victor. I wish I had someone who could have worked with me to raise my self-esteem and confidence. I wish someone would have taught me how to claim my voice back and stand up against bullies. But unfortunately I had nobody around me who could do that at that time.

To add to my already stomped on self-esteem I could hear my parents talk about me in another room. They would say things like, “I don’t know when Faisal is going to grow up. He’s so shy. He’s acting like a girl. He is a poor victim.” I can specifically remember my own parents calling me a wuss and instead of helping me out, they just labeled me as a victim.

There is another very serious and life damaging drawback of calling a child a “victim.” Often I have seen some children using the word “victim” to generate and attract sympathy for themselves. For them it’s the only way to gain the attention of their parents or friends. I can relate to this since I went through that phase. As far back as I can remember my mother used to use the weapon of victim mentality when she needed some attention from us or when she wanted to resolve an issue with my father. He also had his own sickness to use when he needed acknowledgement. These were their only connections to stay together.

What I know now is that by giving attention to her sickness, my mother had attracted numerous illnesses and the biggest one was breast cancer. Her mind knew the only way to attract attention was to have some sort of health issue and to play “victim.” Her mind would manifest them all the time, with great success.

Now I know why I had developed this reoccurring stomachache and neck pain. By having these two, I would get a break from the beatings or verbal abuse at home plus a bit of attention, although mostly negative. I had taken on my parents’ trait: I was destined to become a chronic victim like my parents.IMAG1425

When a bullied child is permanently given the title of victim, it can become their identity and they can carry that behavior into their adulthood. Unfortunately, this is a very dysfunctional behavior. In some cases parents could become victims of their child’s victim mentality.

Here is another disturbing fact regarding labeling a kid as a “victim”:

It encourages gang membership. Victims may find acceptance, security, and a sense of family. Bullies who over time lose their peer group status may seek association with other aggressive students found in gangs ~ (Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Gest, & Gariepy, 1988)

Think about someone you consider to be a victim. Someone your own age. What kind of feeling do you get about this person? Perhaps you feel sorry for them. Perhaps you don’t have time for them because they are looking for sympathy and too much pity. Perhaps you can come up with legitimate reasons for their behavior. Whatever it is I am certain it’s not positive.

Now realize this is what others will think of your child when they grow up if you don’t take the steps to help them right now.

Now the question is how to transform someone from “victim” to “victor”?

Is it even possible?

Yes it is!

The first step starts with you, the parents. The change has to come from you. Just as I shared in my own story, you have to do a self-inventory and ask yourself:

a. Am I behaving like a victim myself?

b. Do I become a victim and give in when my child demands their sometimes ridiculous wants?

c. Do I try my best to prove my child right in front of others even though it might be my child’s fault?

d. Do I take out my anger and my frustration on my child?

e. Am I too easy going and let my child do whatever they want to?

 

If this is the case then you need to change a few things in your household.

1. Stop being a bad example for your child by behaving like a victim. Work on your confidence and self-esteem. After all you are a model for them.

2. Set up some healthy boundaries. Don’t say YES to all the demands your child has. Let them know they can be turned down too.

3. If your child misbehaves or is at fault, be honest and use just discipline. If you back them up by not disciplining, they will assume you will give them an easy way out of any trouble.

4. Take full responsibility for your own actions and don’t blame your child for them.

5. Set up some guidelines and rules about accountability in the family. Everyone should be accountable for his or her own actions.

If your child is being bullied, I know how hard it is not to feel sympathy but don’t get into the habit of becoming sad. Instead show them your support and work with them to come up with some solutions to tackle the situation. Be proactive and don’t let them fall into victim mentality.

On my path on changing from Victim to Victor, I used lots of affirmations and proclamations. Affirmations are short and powerful statements that drive you toward a goal you want to achieve. By using them repeatedly they become your conscious thoughts.

To be very honest, in the beginning, affirmations were kind of boring for me. Repeating the same statements over and over without any emotional attachment became just another routine.

Luckily that’s when I learned about proclamations. They are pretty much the same as affirmations but involve more emotions and beliefs. Instead of just words, proclamations have feeling and intensity associated with them. By adding feeling to the words, real change in your conscious thought is possible.

I believe that you may also have come across affirmations or proclamations at some point in your life and you might even be using them right now. It takes a while to get used to them and to make it an everyday ritual can get a bit harder. Introducing them to a child could even be a challenging task. I understand; imagining myself as a teenager I too would have said no to affirmations. They don’t include any fun.

Now you might ask, how can we achieve fun?

I was faced with the same question for a long time. Honestly speaking, my daughters even disliked the whole idea of using affirmations, Then one day I remembered a very powerful technique I learned from my mentor Dov Baron, around the concept of our limiting beliefs.

This technique inspired me to develop something wonderful and special I am very proud of, called “Funfirmations.” It also incorporates the use of a very cool concept of “NLP Anchors” that allow you to replicate feelings of confidence, success and motivation on demand. I wanted to make it fun for children to learn and use affirmations. To have affirmations become something they look forward on doing instead of considering them as a burden. I want to share these funfirmations with you too.

Two of my favorites are:funff

“I am proud of who I am because I am a VICTOR!”

“I am a VICTOR because I am standing up more for myself every day.”

You may visit this link http://www.funfirmations.com/  and download seven powerful funfirmations as a gift. I have provided these funfirmations in two different formats. One is verbal so you can hear them and the other one is in text format so you can read them out loud. Teach your child to use these bullyproofing funfirmations at least twice a day. It only takes a few minutes but it will start creating a victor’s mentality.

On paper they look like the regular affirmations but I have explained under “activities and exercises” how they can be turned into funfirmations.

At this point you may also be thinking that your situation is completely different. Your child might be getting bullied, but they don’t feel like a victim. I understand that you love your child and you want them to be able to come to you with anything that is happening in their life. I understand because I am a parent myself. I also know that children who are bullied carry a lot of embarrassment and shame. They really don’t feel like someone will understand what or why they were the target of a bully. Children like to keep this kind of stuff inside, just like I did.IMAG1430

Feelings of a victim are the same across the board. A lot of the times they believe that it was their fault and even if it wasn’t their fault, they think they are just wimpy. They want their parents to approve of them. So if they reveal a situation where they were victimized, they may think that makes them seem weak.

The word “victim” carries a heavy burden. This is why you need to delete it from your vocabulary. When you are talking in front of your child or someone else’s child, use the word “victor” instead. Start calling that child a victor, and tell that child that they are not a victim any more. They are a victor and they are going to fight back. They are going to stand up and look into the eyes of the bully, and they are not going to be afraid anymore.

A survivor strives to get better. A survivor or a victor shows that kid’s ability to resist and fight back. Survivor shows strength and empowers the kid being bullied. It gives a child the hope, the light at the end of the tunnel to take action against being bullied. A victim always lives in fear. A child being bullied will always live in fear that someone, somewhere is going to bully them, and they will always be scared, frustrated, looking for help, oftentimes in the wrong places. So together let’s change the victim to a victor.

 

 

Write down why is it important to build the VICTOR mentality.

 

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Activities and Exercises

 

1. Count Your Accomplishments

When we feel like a victim we ignore our victories. We always see ourselves as someone who can’t move forward or someone who can’t do anything right when all of us regardless of our abilities, are achievers of so many things in our day-to-day lives.

To get your children out of victim mode or to simply feel like someone who can accomplish their goals and dreams, teach them to journal about the things they achieved every day. It could be something small as striking up a conversation with another kid at school or big as getting on the honor roll.

Help them think about their accomplishments by writing:

Today at school I felt really good because I was able to…

At lunch break my friend thanked me because I shared my…

On the playground my friends were amazed to see how I was able to …

Earlier this evening I felt like a hero when I helped my sister do…

I felt really happy when my mom told me that I am a ….

 

2. Affirmations to Funfirmations

As I mentioned earlier my funfirmations might seem like regular affirmations on paper but you can teach your child to turn them into fun-filled activity that they will love to do every day.

Step 1:g5

Ask your child to think of the super hero character they like the best. All the kids have a favorite one, even some adults still get empowered by characters like Batman, Batgirl, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder woman, Hulk, Supergirl, and Iron Man.

Step 2:

Now ask your child to remember a specific power move they like about that character. It could be pumping a fist in the air, jumping up and down, putting one fist in the air and pretending to fly like Superman, standing tall with arms on both sides at shoulder height like Hulk etc. Tell them to practice and embody that move.

Help them how to do it by mimicking that move yourself.

Hint: It’s easy to do it when you visualize yourself becoming that super hero. Imagine you are wearing that character’s clothes under your own clothes.

Step 3:

Once your child has mastered that specific move, ask them to read the funfirmations the way that character would. Tell them to imagine that they have become that super hero and they are unstoppable. They are not afraid of anyone and no one can bully them anymore.

The whole idea of this exercise is to make it more interesting for your kids. Once your child imagines themselves as powerful as a super hero, they will consider themselves as a success and victor. Combining these funfirmations with the moves will emotionally connect them with this activity and they will find that it is not a boring task after all.

Another benefit of embodying that specific super hero move is that they can use it at anytime especially if they are faced with a bully. In their mind they just need to recall that move and affirmation and it will replicate the feelings of confidence and power, making them ready to stand up for themselves.

Note:

You may also download my other funfirmations from www.funfirmations.com in the song format. Children are learning all kinds of stuff from the media so easily available to them. Watching my daughters and their friends I realized that listening to songs is one of the biggest activities our young generation does. Since most of the songs out there are not geared towards self-empowerment and positiveness, I thought it would be awesome to have funfirmations with extra FUN. Why not give them something they would not only like to listen to but also get some positive messages from it.

 

3. Focus into Reality

I remember when I was a teenager one of our teachers made us do this activity during a class. The main idea was to check out our memory but it could also serve another purpose. This is a very simple but powerful activity which could be done at home or outside.

Ask your child to look around and count the objects that have the color black in them. It could be anything like table, chair, picture frame, slide, part of a building, tree etc.

Now ask them to count the things which have the color white in them. You may set up a time like 30 seconds or a minute for each task.

While doing this activity, any color could be used. You may also ask them to find things which come in different shapes like round, flat, oval etc.

After this activity is done, sit down with your child and ask the following question:

When you were looking for a particular color, did you pay attention to other colors around you?

With a surprised look, most likely they will say “No.”

This is a perfect time to have a discussion with them about our focus and the results of focus in our lives. Why they didn’t pay attention to other colors?

We see more of the things we focus on. I remember we bought a van when we had our first daughter. Yes! I know it was a tough decision to move from a sedan to a van but honestly speaking after a few days we started to love it.

Another weird thing happened. My wife and I both started to see more and more of this particular van on the roads. The reason behind it was that since now we owned and loved the van, our focus has shifted from cars to paying more attention to the vans out there.

The same principle applies to our lives. If we start thinking negatively about life and keep beating ourselves about the mistakes we made in the past, guess what? We will attract more negativity and problems, and eventually get ourselves into depression. We know someone who is always nagging and complaining about shortcomings in their life but never recognize the blessings and victories they have.

Discuss the importance of applying this principle with your children. What will happen if they started looking for good and bad in their friends and family? What if they paid attention to the good? What if they started to focus on finding good friends, the friends who will make them happy, the friends who will not bully them ?

By instilling this very principle in your child’s mind, they will start moving them from victim to victor since they will shift their focus to find happiness and positivity in their life.

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Faisal Khattak

V for VICTORS January 14, 2014


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