I definitely agree that it's good to get the bystanders to do it. The only problem I can see is that there needs to be enough kids prepared to do it for it to work. Unless all - or most - kids embrace it at around the same time then I don't see it happening. Has to be unilateral action!
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30-05-2012 16:53 #11Senior Member
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30-05-2012 17:52 #12
That article actually makes me angry. There are so many sweeping statements and no citation of any of the research that she is supposedly referring to here. I've just done a quick look through the bullying research literature just now and there is only one study that i could find that associated high self-esteem with bullying perpetration, and this relationship was only found in the situation of an unsupportive/negative school environment. In a supportive school environment, bullies were more likely to have low self-esteem. If anyone else can find any journal articles to support her statements, I would really appreciate these sources being shared here!
I'm also annoyed by her implication that self-esteem is somehow narcissistic. To have high self-esteem does not mean that you think you are better than others or that you feel entitled. People with authentic high self-esteem are less likely to behave aggressively (more likely to be assertive). Self-esteem is also the same as/or highly associated with 'self-worth' and 'self-respect' and she is suggesting that there are differences that are meaningful in their definitions, which is not the case.
I think by discrediting use of praise in general as a parenting strategy, she has wasted an important opportunity to encourage parents to develop their child's empathy and compassion (which you do using PRAISE!!)... which would be far more helpful in reducing a child's likelihood of perpetrating bullying (according to the research!).
Argh! Vent over. Sorry.
30-05-2012 17:53 #13
I saw this discussed this morning on TV and felt similarly frustrated!
30-05-2012 18:45 #14
Also empathy is not developed through praise, it is developed mostly through modelling caring behaviour the child witnesses in others - usually their primary caregivers.
I'll come back to you with the research, I am actually learning about this as part of my course and will share some interesting research when i get a chance tonight.
Last edited by Ulysses; 30-05-2012 at 18:48.
30-05-2012 19:46 #15
Yes, you are correct, praise can develop compassionate and empathic 'behaviour', but empathy develops through attachment experiences and attunement, and modeling to an extent.
.... I worry about the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of research by the popular media.
Last edited by ABigDeepBreath; 30-05-2012 at 20:52.
30-05-2012 19:54 #16
That is ok abigdeepdreath, I understand it is a complex topic and also can be a bit confusing regarding how much praise etc.
Essentially, self esteem is not just high or low - it is quite complex and I see the point of the article is the shift the focus away from self esteem towards self worth. There is nothing wrong with praising kids, especially very young ones who are entirely dependent on their parents - in fact it is a widely used technique in psychology, the suggestion is just that as parents we don't go overboard and "keep it real", especially during adolescence.
With regards to the mention of research regardng self esteem in bullies - there is an amazing amount of research that I have seen specifying bullies as highly intelligent, competent, strong individuals who often have quite a high opinion of themselves. Here are just a few examples of why bullies are not who we think they are - although of course there are certainly likely to be many examples of kids with low self esteem who bully.
Some facts (from research)
1. "A healthy self-esteem consists not only of seeing oneself in as positive a light as possible, or as perfect, but also of feeling intrinsically worthwhile, or accepting oneself as one is (Buss, 1995, p206) (Warts and all - i.e. it's ok to suck at basketball but I am really good at xyz).
2. Not all negative behaviours (such as bullying or aggressive styles) is associated with low self esteem(Baumeister, 1997 - from - Evil. Inside Human Cruelty and ViolenceFreeman, New York (1997). Some empirical evidence suggests the opposite i.e. high self esteem can be linked with negative/aggressive behaviours.
3. Individuals who are prone to aggressive and violent behavior seem to have a high, even an unrealistically favorable opinion of themselves. This holds true when we look at their cognitive evaluations of their competencies and characteristics (i.e., their self-concept). (Kernis et al 1989).
4. Aggressive persons have been found to display narcissistic tendencies (i.e., a grandiose sense of self-importance together with an inability to tolerate criticism). The need to see oneself as a superior being, as well as defensiveness in response to criticism also seem to imply that they find it difficult to accept unfavorable external evaluation, probably due to the threat that it causes to their self-esteem (Salmillvali, 2001)
5. Aggressive behavior, such as starting a fight, is risk-taking behavior that can be thought to require some courage and confidence in one's possibilities to beat the opponent. Risk-seeking is known to be typical of those with a high, rather than a low self-esteem (Spencer et al., 1993). Low self-esteem individuals, on the other hand, lack confidence in their abilities. Since they expect failure in many risky and challenging situations (Tice, 1993), they avoid rather than seek such situations. At best, then, low self-esteem might explain why some people target their aggressive attacks at relatively helpless or physically weak victims (as when a man attacks his wife, an adult beats a child, or a school class bully picks on a weaker peer). In other cases, a low self-esteem does not seem a very plausible antecedent of aggressive behavior any more than a high, healthy self-esteem (Salmillvali, 2001).
6.Salmivalli et al. (1999) found no correlational connection between simple self-esteem level (measured with a shortened version of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale) and a specific type of aggressive behavior, bullying in schools, among adolescents.
7.Correspondingly, Rigby and Slee (1993) found (in students 12–18 years of age) no relation between the tendency to bully others and scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. There was, in fact, a slight, albeit non-significant, tendency for bullies to have above-average self-esteem. In the same study, prosocial behavior was positively and significantly correlated with self-esteem level (Salmillvali, 2001).
8. Children who bully often score higher on psychoticism than other children, indicating there are specific personality traits at work (Connolly and o'Moore, 2002).
9. " A 2000 study by psychologist Philip Rodkin, PhD, and colleagues involving fourth-through-sixth-grade boys found that highly aggressive boys may be among the most popular and socially connected children in elementary classrooms, as viewed by their fellow students and even their teachers. Another myth is that the tough and aggressive bullies are basically anxious and insecure individuals who use bullying as a means of compensating for poor self-esteem. Using a number of different methods including projective tests and stress hormones, Olweus concludes that there is no support for such a view. Most bullies had average or better than average self-esteem" (APA website)
Here is some information about the Norwegian researcher who is known as the expert on bullying worldwide (Taken from the APA website).
In his 1993 book, Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do, Dr. Olweus identifies characteristics of students who are most likely to be bullies and those that are most likely to be victims of bullying. Bullies tend to exhibit the following characteristics:
The Typical Bully
- They have a strong need to dominate and subdue other students and to get their own way
- Are impulsive and are easily angered
- Are often defiant and aggressive toward adults, including parents and teachers
- Show little empathy toward students who are victimized
- If they are boys, they are physically stronger than boys in general
- Are cautious, sensitive, quiet, withdrawn and shy
- Are often anxious, insecure, unhappy and have low self-esteem
- Are depressed and engage in suicidal ideation much more often than their peers
- Often do not have a single good friend and relate better to adults than to peers
- If they are boys, they may be physically weaker than their peers
Last edited by Ulysses; 30-05-2012 at 20:20.
- They have a strong need to dominate and subdue other students and to get their own way
30-05-2012 19:56 #17
...sorry I have nothing to contribute, it's already been said.
But want to say thank you for the intelligent, informed discussion, this thread (though still short) is full of great information!
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30-05-2012 20:14 #18
I should mention there is really two types of bully - but i believe the article is referring to the highly socially skilled one (the cool kid that is a bully if you know what I mean). And this type of bullying can only really exist if the culture allows it i.e. it is deemed acceptable. The other type of bullying is about those kids who have no other way of getting power and i suspect there are far deeper issues and typically lack social skills and need help in developing better life skills. So two polar opposites using the same tactic, but once again i think that the current research is more indicative of the former type.
Either type - the result is the same in the victim.
30-05-2012 20:26 #19
Thanks Ulysses. I don't disagree that the relationship between self esteem and bullying is a complex one, and research finds mixed results... Bullying has been associated with high self-esteem in some studies. It's just that, like much of psychology, it is not conclusive and so many different factors contribute to bullying behaviour. It clearly requires more research.
My concern was that the article simplified it and suggested that praise = high self-esteem = bullying. And I worry that people will stop praising their kids for fear of creating bullies. That's all.
30-05-2012 20:36 #20
Ulysses that's fascinating stuff thankyou. Are there any concrete recommendations on what we as parents can do to avoid our child being a bully?? A lot of that seems to be inbuilt personality traits etc.
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