Stick out and you will get teased or bullied.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Looking different can get you teased.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ever wonder why they pick on you?

People who get picked on start to think there is something wrong with them. They write in to my blog and others, asking what is wrong with them. They ask why do people not like them and criticize them. The details are often different but I see a constant theme in these comments and questions. The person who is being picked on starts thinking this has something to do with them.

Humans, and animals too like the familiar. They feel more comfortable when everyone is exactly the same. Anything outside the norm gets noticed and frequently that notice is disapproval. The human version of beauty is largely one of the extreme average. Any deviation from the norm is downgraded.

People who look differently than others get attacked. So do those who act or talk differently. You can be totally average in all respects but one, that one aspect where you have diverged will be the one that gets noticed. This preference for the average, this teasing of those who are different includes physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral characteristics.

There are a few times when fashion dictates that you look “different” but mostly we all want to look different in the same way all our contemporaries do. Tye dye or Goth we all look different in a very average way.

There are a few times when we make exceptions for people who are far enough away from the mean. Really tall men are OK if they play basketball. Very tall women are accepted if they are models. Most of the time though, if you are a few inches taller or a few I.Q. points above average, you will get flack until you find your niche in life. If you can figure out a way to make money off your difference you may get a pass on the teasing. But until you make that money expect the criticism to rain down on you. Even then, just because you become President or Pope, you are not exempt from the attacks on your uniqueness.

Let’s look at some examples of things that will get you teased and then some possible solutions to this teasing. There are solutions that work and ones that do not. The ones most people try are the ones that are unlikely to work.

The Physical, Nose, Ears, Eyes, and Face

No one gets teased because they have an average nose. Let your nose be too long or too short, too flat or too protruding, that unique nose will get criticized. The nose is an easy target for attack. It stands out from the face and is visible.

Ears are easy targets. They stick out also. Big ears or small ones makes no matter. Girls, who get their ears pierced or don’t get them pierced get teased. So do boys.

Are your eyes the wrong color? Which color is in and which is out? Is your hair right or wrong? What is the “in” thing this year? Facial hair goes in and out. You need the same style and length as everyone else if you want to fit in.

Besides the face, people get teased for their weight. Too skinny or too fat. You need to be very close to average if you want to be acceptable. Busts and butts all seem to get graded. Too big, too small, not many just right.

Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral differences get you teased.

The kids who need extra help and struggle, whether it is because of a learning disability or just a different learning style, you will get teased. Can’t hear or see, need glasses? You will get the shunning treatment and maybe even get to ride the short bus. That difference will get you teased also.

Say you are really smart, does that get you out of the teasing queue? Not a chance. If you are smart you get teased because you are not athletic. You athletes do not get off either. Remember all the sayings about dumb jocks?

Whether you are very emotional or not emotional at all you will fall outside the norm and being different in any way results in you standing out. Those who stand out get teased.

The solutions that do not work.

Getting surgically altered.

Plastic surgeons can do wonders these days. If you were born with a birth defect or were injured, plastic surgery may be just the thing for you. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to go under the knife for the wrong reasons. Having surgery will not make them stop teasing you or make more people like you. You may look different but you are still you and they will find something else to tease you about.

Notice how many people have multiple surgeries. They expected to be beautiful and loved. When the surgery did not produce the miracle they hoped for they blame the doctor or get another surgery.

Being perfect.

Perfection is an illusion. The more you pursue it the further away it will move. Trying to be perfect and satisfy everyone will please no one. Do not cheat yourself out of a life by trying to please others.

Being really good at something.

No matter how many championships you win or how many degrees you have there is always “what you have done lately.” Billionaires still get teased or criticized for their looks or their family.

Eating disorders.

Starving or binging and purging will not get you the positive things you hoped for. A healthy lifestyle is good. Losing some weight may be just what you need to do. But do not think that there is any weight that will get you off the teasing hook. You will just get teased for your diet or exercise plan.

What does work?

Radical acceptance.

Accept yourself as you are. Know that you will get teased and criticized in life. The only people who escape this teasing thing, or maybe they just get less of it than others, are the ones who are totally bland and never stand out in any way. The best way to become a better person is to accept yourself the way you are and then go about become the best you possible.

Successes are the best revenge.

Kids who were teased in elementary school sometimes grow up to be actors, successful businessmen, or brilliant scholars. Success is not all about money or power it is also about creating a life full of purpose and happiness. Stop caring about all those comments about you and go out and live the best life possible.

Thanks to the reader who asked why people teased him and how despite surgeries the teasing did not end. I hope that the reader and others will find something useful in this post.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

The face of bullying is changing

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Crying child

Youth mental health.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

As bullying changes so should our response.

Most kids will be bullied sooner or later.  We used to think that there was something that the victim was doing. It would make us feel safer to think they had done something wrong and if we teach kids to avoid that mistake then our kids will be safe. Like blaming the rape victim, blaming the victim of bullying has not helped reduce the number of incidents. The amount seems to be growing. So is the type.

Our fear of violence in the school has led to crackdowns on violence. We have zero-tolerance policies. Bring a weapon to school and you get kicked out. Hit someone and you will be suspended maybe even expelled. There is no such thing as a “normal” fight between kids anymore. This has reduced the rate of physical bullying – somewhat. It has not reduced the rate of emotional bullying.

Bullying is not always from outside the family. The most devastating form occurs when family members, those who should have protected you, become the bullies. Relentlessly harassing a family member, the name-calling and the feeling of rejection all take their toll.

Kids have come into the psychiatric facilities as a result of a suicide attempt and they tell me their family has called them fat and dumb for years. They finally just gave up. This form of emotional bullying is also emotional abuse. It can and probably usually should be reported to the Child protective services as child emotional abuse. Besides intervening in the family we need to help the victim to get past the trauma of the abuse. But bullying is everywhere.

The new face of bullying is the anonymous face of the internet, cyber-bullying. It is also the acts of kids rejecting and excluding other kids. There is a lot more name-calling and cruel posts online.

Recently Psychotherapy Networker presented a webinar on bullying featuring Stan Davis as part of their parenting skills series. I try to catch as many of their presentations as possible. Most of the programs are designed for professionals and include continuing education units (CEU’s.) They also make some presentations available free of charge, but only for a short time. For more information on Psychotherapy Networker and their webinars see: http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/

Davis tells us that the old approach to bullying is not working. Education for bullying, as in education for drug abuse does not solve the problem. Kids know they shouldn’t bully, with or without an education component.

The kids who tell me at age 8 that drugs are bad and they learned in school that you should never do drugs; I see them again in their teens after they have had an overdose. Same thing with bullying.

If we really want to create a climate without bullying, or less of it anyway, we can’t excuse or alibi bullying when it happens. We need a consistent message that there is zero-tolerance for emotional bullying just like zero tolerance for physical violence. So far society is not consistent with this message at home or at school.

Drugs are cool in movies and on T. V. so are in your face put-downs of others. Kids are learning to bully from what they see others do and lacking any amount of self-control they imitate the reality shows and the movie and video game bullying.  Like the way, drunk driving stopped being OK as a result of a concerted campaign by MADD we need a campaign to make bullying a not acceptable activity.

Davis also mentioned that the best antidote for bullying is friends. The more a child belongs and feels like a part of something the less likely they will be affected by bullying. The most victimized are the most alone and once they become the victim they are more likely to be shunned by others, who are afraid to become victims also.

Connection reduces the impact of trauma whether it is from bullying or from a natural disaster. We know from other sources that people with a serious mental illness, like schizophrenia, which have partners at home that support them are half as likely to end up in the psychiatric hospital. Kids who have friends are less likely to be permanently harmed by bullying.

Resiliency is also a source of protection when someone is bullied. Resilient people seem to be able to screen out the verbal insults and the put-downs  Screens, says Davis, keep out the injury, but we need help from our friends to keep the screens of protection clean and repaired.

So the summary here is that more bullying today is non-physical like insults and rejection and to protect against this, more friends and resiliency are what is needed.

See also: Bullying, Families, and Resilience 

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Bullying, Families and Resiliency

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Crying child

Youth mental health.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is there a relationship between Bullying, families, and resiliency?

At least one research study says yes. My task of reading all these research studies about resiliency and what makes some people bounce back from trauma quickly while other people are down for the count continues. This one study seems worth sharing. It is not extremely new (from 2010) but it was new to me so I thought I would pass it on.

The study by Bowes, Maughan, Caspi, Moffitt, and Arseneault, says yes there is a connection. They say three factors improve the resilience of children who are bullied. Now after reading as many studies as I have so far I take everything with a lot of salt. (Please don’t tell my nutritionist.) I am leery of studies that say that doing or not doing something will protect your child from harm. Parents sometimes do everything right and still, something bad happens, but this study does suggest some things that help reduce the impact of bullying on kids.

They found that being the victim of bullying in primary grades set the child up for both emotional and behavioral problems as well as increasing the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions and other self-harming behaviors. Victims of bullying, not surprisingly, have an increased risk and the younger they are when bullied the more the risk. At least that is the way I read this.

Some factors they found, well there is nothing you can do about it. Being poor adds to your risk. But then poverty adds to the risk of almost everything. In the early grades, girls seem to be more resilient than boys. That surprised me. High I. Q. protects kids from some risks and increases resiliency. Most efforts to increase your child’s I. Q. aren’t going to work, though appropriate effective education and counseling might help a little. Children with emotional or behavioral problems to start with were more affected by bullying. I take that as an indication that early interventions in childhood emotional and behavioral problems are better than the wait and see approach.

They suggest there is a difference in the factors that promote resiliency in the emotional area and those that increase resiliency in behavioral areas. Now here is the thing that was noteworthy for me. The family characteristic that was most helpful in promoting behavioral resiliency in boys was – the warmth of the mother. That is boys who knew their mother liked them were less affected by being the victim of bullying that boys whose mothers never treated them warmly. So much ladies, for worrying about spoiling your sons. Let them know they are loved and their behavior improves. At least it did in sons who were bullied.

The second thing that promoted resiliency in these kids was the warmth of their siblings. Even boys whose mothers were cold and uncaring did better when they had siblings that were warm and caring. Another good reason to promote siblings getting along.

The third factor, after maternal warmth and sibling warmth that protected kids who had been bullied and increased their resiliency, was a positive family atmosphere. So parents, while money, as in poverty, play a small part in reducing resiliency, the things you can’t buy, like maternal warmth, sibling warmth, and a positive family environment made the most difference.

Some issues with the study were that they left out the problem of girl’s behavioral resiliency. I think a lot of girls do act out behaviorally because they were teased and bullied. Usually, the girls do their acting out in ways that we don’t connect to being bullied, at least till they get to high school. The study started out talking about parental characteristics and then switched to maternal warmth. Didn’t we stop blaming the mothers a long time ago? And didn’t any of these kids have fathers? I don’t see much about the role of fathers in promoting resiliency. I continue to think that we underestimate the child’s need for a father or male role model, who takes an active part in a child’s life.

For those of you who are purists,’ the reference for this study is: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 51:7 (2010), pp 809–817.

So what do you think? Does maternal warmth matter? Should a father ever be warm to his children? And does anyone else out there have any suggestions for reducing the bullying and increasing the resiliency of kids who have been bullied?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel