Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Are We Raising Bullies?

Note: I translated this Facebook post written by Noor Afidah Abu Bakar from Parent Connect Consultancy

The video of a school pupil being bullied was spreading across Facebook. Recently, we are being bombarded by videos of bullying in schools. I am worried if this trend will lead to the society being desensitized by bullying, similarly to how our society sees wrestling as something entertaining and pranking as a joke.

According to a statement made by the Deputy Minister of Education, last year alone we have 3000 bully cases in schools. It seems like bullying is fast becoming a very serious issue. We haven't include cases outside of schools. One bully case is enough to cause worry in the society, let alone 3000.

We often focus on the school and the teachers for not punishing the bullies. We also often focus on the bullies themselves, and we want them to be in jail just to experience how it feels like being bullied by other inmates.

Sidenote: It is rather ironic that we hope that the bullies get bullied themselves.

We shouldn't forget that the main educators of a child are the parents. In cases of bully, the parents should also be brought to the centre of the stage. A study done by University of Warwick in 2013 found that instilling problem solving skills is the best method to reduce the probability that a child becomes a bully or becomes a victim of bully.

Like I always say, problem solving skills are not for math only. Problem solving skills should be used for life problems too, not just math problems, in schools and in homes. From pre-school, children already showed the ability for problem solving. Don't kill this natural tendency by focusing only on reading, counting, and academics up to a point where we raise zombies with no empathy.

A study done by Batsche and Knoff in 1994 found that parents to children who became bullies have low problem solving ability. Those parents would easily erupt to provocation. Children learn. Children copy.

A 30-year study found that families with bullies have these characteristics:

  1. Parents who are totally absent or less involved in their children's daily lives.
  2. Have very few or absolutely no rules in the house to guide the behaviours of children. House rules are very important.
  3. If there are rules, they are too rigid and used to punish rather than to guide.
  4. Parents (and family) who are not involved in community activities.
  5. Parents who are divided and disorganized, and families without harmony. 
  6. Attitude and language used by parents that are unconsciously encouraging the children to become bullies.

If videos of bullying are viral again on social media, just remember that those are the possible characteristics of the family of the bully. Not only do the child needs guidance, the parents need it too in order to properly navigate the family. This is not simply an issue of caning or no caning.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS), problem solving, decision making, rational thinking, critical thinking, and taxonomy of thinking; all of these are elements to learn about life and not just to learn how to ace the exams.

Other than that, we need to nurture our children to become individuals who stand up for their bullied friends. Don't just become another bystander (recommended reading: the bystander effect) or worse, become a part of the people cheering the bully as we have seen in many of those viral videos.

It takes a village to raise a child.

Noor Afidah Abu Bakar
Parent Connect Consultancy


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Friday, September 02, 2016

Make Your Confidence Last Longer

There are two types of confidence: inner confidence and outer confidence.

Outer confidence is common, where you seek confidence from outside of yourself. A few examples of that are you seeking confidence from your peers (their approval give you confidence), from your looks (looking attractive makes you feel confident), or from your status (having titles elevate your confidence level).

Outer confidence is important, but it shouldn't be the core of a person's confidence. Why? To put it simply, outer confidence is temporary. It has a tendency to fade away.

Your peers will not be with you all the time. One day, they will go away. If they are not there to give you the approval you crave, then what happens to your confidence?

Your looks, no matter how hard you maintain it, has a natural tendency to decay with time. It is a part of the circle of life that we have to make peace with. When wrinkles start forming and white hairs start appearing, what will happen to your confidence then?

Your titles will come and go. To defend it, you have to fight day in and day out. That alone could cause you anxiety. When the day comes when your titles are taken from you, does that mean your confidence will be taken away too?

In short, outer confidence is not reliable because it can easily disappear. It can't stay with you all the time. In this life, only one can stay with all the time and that is your own self. So in order to have a longer lasting confidence level, you need to rely more on inner confidence.

What does inner confidence mean? Without downplaying the importance of outer confidence, inner confidence is simply to be comfortable in your own skin and to be able to stand on your own two feet in most situations.

But it won't be an easy thing. One of the possible reasons why many people gravitate towards outer confidence is because it is easier. It is easier to simply rely on our friends for confidence. It is easier to buy nice clothes and beauty products. It is easier because you don't have to put much effort in acquiring it.

Inner confidence requires work, time, and patience. We are carving ourselves to become our own best motivator. Though it is not easy, it is worth the effort because we are building something stronger and something that will last longer.

To rely on something internal means to rely on something that will always be there. The only creation that will be there with you all the time is yourself. Your friends and family members will leave you someday. Your appearance will fade away with time, as it should. Your title will be given to someone else one day.

But your internal environment can't be separated from you. It is literally a part of you. Knowing this, you should train the internal environment to be able to produce confidence when you need it. When you rely on that, you don't have to scavenge the external environment and panting your way trying to find someone or something to cling on to.

You own self is enough as your main source of confidence. Having a strong internal confidence enables you to withstand the external difficulties better because your confidence comes from inside and not outside. You can summon it when you need it most.

You are able to stand on your own two feet, comfortable being who you are, even when you are the only one standing.


Do you want to master your confidence?

Speak Up! Academy focuses on creating a strong foundation of inner confidence. We apply the confidence in practicing essential soft skills: English speaking, public speaking, and debating.

Click here to get updates about our next confidence-upgrading programs.