Are You a Grown-Up Adult Bully?

I’m sure many of us have experienced interacting with “that” kid on our child’s team. We are appalled at how much of a bully and instigator that child is; but then we look to the stands where the parents are sitting, and we see very clearly where this behavior must have been learned.

An adult bully is sometimes the most difficult to deal with, especially when they are in our workplaces or other environments where we have to put up with their antics on a daily basis.

The signs are clear—seeking attention, putting others down, getting in your face, demonstrating passive aggressive behavior, or simply always wanting to argue, belittle, undermine, or insult. Adult bullies can be found everywhere, including online, and we must take responsibility for these actions.

Our children mirror our behaviors in many ways, so is there a possibility that your actions are teaching your child exactly how to become a bully? Let’s discuss the various scenarios where you may be surprised to discover you have some adult bully tendencies.

[divider]Sport Sideline Bullying[/divider]

Yes, I know your children are all on their way to becoming professional athletes, but referees and other players do not need to become road kill along the way. Are you the type of parent who insults the umpire who just called a strike? Did you just threaten a parent from the other team? What about your own player—do you tend to make sure everyone hears you broadcasting your child’s mistakes as you yell at them across the field?

As a parent on the sideline, you have an opportunity to demonstrate either how to be a good sportsman or how to be a hot-tempered jerk. The choice is yours, but choose carefully. Your children are watching and will feed off of your actions.

[divider]Workplace Bullying[/divider]

Chances are good that you don’t particularly like some of your coworkers. There may be people you think are inept or lazy, whose voices just make you crazy, or whom you disagree with in every meeting. That is all normal and is simply part of working with others.

However, every now and then, you come across employees who will do anything to get ahead. They take credit for your work, they devalue your contributions, they treat you as inferior, or they may even outright lie in order to better their chances at recognition or a promotion. This could be your boss, your coworker, your employee—or it could be you!

Workplace bullying is actually a prevalent and major concern, becoming the grown-up version of playground bullying. According to a survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 72 percent of Americans are aware that workplace bullying occurs, with 27 percent having personally experienced abusive conduct at work.

[divider]Relationship Bullying[/divider]

Whether it be with your spouse, your children, your friends, your neighbors—our daily interactions with others build upon the quality of those relationships. Rudeness and irritability tear down morale. Lying and insults create distrust. Physical aggression teaches hate and emotional withdrawal. Unhealthy competition and self-promotion lead to insecurities.

When looking at your world and the relationships contained therein, are you working on those being beneficial, healthy, and uplifting? Or are your actions tearing them down, building walls, and inflicting pain?

Relationships are a lot of work, and if you are not intentional to inject positivity into each of yours, then it is very easy to become careless as your weaknesses become vulnerable and exposed. Your quick temper, your pride, your selfishness—all have the potential to snowball into bullying behavior in even the most meaningful of relationships.

There are many signs of bullying in a relationship, such as guilt-trips, passive aggressive behavior, and controlling words and actions. If you feel you are in an abusive relationship, whether physically or emotionally, please seek professional help in navigating your situation.

[divider]Social Media Bullying[/divider]

I think sometimes, just like with children and teenagers, adults are emboldened as they sit behind a computer or phone to communicate. Things are often said or shared that the average person may be too reserved to say to someone’s face. Because of this, comments made on social media can be harsher, ruder, and more hurtful than face-to-face conversations.

Additionally, it has become so easy to share offensive or embarrassing images, to expose private matters, and to create an environment of cyberbullying. The difference with social media bullying is that it is not just between two people. Once something is posted or shared online, it has the potential to spread quickly and extensively to an unlimited number of viewers.

So before you hit like, share, or comment on the next post you see, ask yourself if what you are doing could cause harm to someone. Are you potentially helping contribute to social media bullying?

Knowing how critical it is to self-reflect and to consider if you have demonstrated any of these adult bullying behaviors, what are you doing to ensure you are being a role model for your children on how to treat others with respect? If your child were to act how you just did in traffic this morning, or in your last meeting, or in your dialogue with the cashier at the store today, would you be proud of them?


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To help in the fight against bullying, join us for our 31 Simple Acts of Kindness challenge. Print out our calendar and then use #SimpleActsK12 to share pictures and stories of you and your students doing these daily Simple Acts. Together, we can use kindness to #SayNoToBullying![/schedule]

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