How to Stop Bullying From Becoming Routine

Bullying is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences. To help educators, parents, students, and communities address and prevent bullying and its effects, this month we’re featuring 31 resources and 31 Difference Makers as part of National Bullying Prevention Month.

For my own part as a CPI Global Professional Instructor, every week I get to teach a new group of educators and human services professionals ways to enhance their commitment to making life better for the people in their care.

In our discussions in the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program, we talk about creating a culture of Care, Welfare, Safety, and Securityâ„  to counter any culture of fear that might allow bullying to take place. We discuss how bullying is a behavior that can be managed and prevented. We examine the consequences of the mindset that “bullying is just part of growing up.” And we come up with solutions and ideas for empowering everyone affected by bullying to develop more productive ways of behaving and communicating.

One of the things I’ve noticed throughout my 12 years of teaching the program is that humor is a powerful teaching tool. We talk about and problem-solve heavy issues during training and follow-up, and I find that whenever I can lighten the mood, learning sticks even better. So bear with me here as I infuse a little fun into a serious topic—not to demean the gravity of bullying, but to make you smile about more everyday frustrations that might chafe you the way they chafe me—and to give you some ideas about how we can prevent frustration from affecting our behavior.

This morning I realized that bullying behavior comes from not only people—but things. Cue the weird, horror-movie theme music, please!

While getting my peanut butter and jelly sandwich ready for my road trip to work, I was harassed by the plastic wrap. Getting that new box open is intimidating. It’s hard enough to push the side tabs in to hold the roll, but that razor-sharp cutting edge is downright dangerous. I know I’m not the only one to have cut a finger or two on that thing. After wrestling open the box, it took an inordinate amount of time to find the starting edge of the plastic wrap. Meanwhile, my toaster decided to burn my blueberry bran bagel as I struggled with the wrap.


And then, once I got the wrap roll started, the plastic clung to everything except my food and I couldn’t separate the wrap from the roll without my sandwich ending up on the floor. Jelly-side down, of course! Not to be defeated by the wrap, I tossed the box into the trash and moved on to more important matters.

Getting dressed for work tortures me too. As much as I hate ironing, it’s sometimes a necessity. But, what an overbearing job! The ironing board makes that loud screeching sound when you unfold it. And who came up with the shape of an ironing board? My clothes never fit right with the edges. Then the iron starts spewing out that white mineral stuff that gets all over your clothes. And as soon as you get done ironing one side of your shirt, you have to iron the other side AGAIN because it gets wrinkled just hanging there! Then the iron runs out of water and you have to stop everything to fill it up again. Meanwhile, my toaster burns my replacement blueberry bran bagel.


Well, I’m intimidated by household objects and appliances, but I’m not defeated. Thinking I can excel at waste management, I forge ahead.

But even the most experienced and confident household managers can be pestered by the recycling process. Is it the blue bin or the green bin? Do the bins go out weekly with the trash or every other week? Will the recyclers accept fur balls coughed up by the cat or do I add those to the garbage? And specifically which triangular number for which plastic waste will they take? I’m OK with numbers one through 78, but then I get confused. Is it OK if the plastic container still has residue from the Moo Goo Gai Pan dinner we had last night? Should I shred paper or keep it intact? Should I pile and stack stuff in an organized fashion or leave it loosely cluttered in the bin? Paper or plastic? Window or aisle?


Meanwhile, I’ve burnt so many bagels by now that the fire department has arrived.

Sometimes we all experience frustrations with morning routines, and frequently we can laugh about it. But don’t forget the importance of Rational Detachment. Stay in control of your anger and frustration, and don’t let the behavior of household objects get to you.

To do this, use positive self-talk. Say to yourself, “This plastic wrap/toaster/ironing board/whatever is making me angry, but it’s not gonna ruin my day or affect the way I behave towards others.” Keep telling yourself this, and then take a quick walk or a deep breath or whatever works to help you release the negative energy you feel.

I hope you got some laughs out of the scenarios that bugged me this morning. But of course, there is nothing funny about bullying. There’s nothing comical about being called names, being taunted, teased, worried, harassed, or feeling the fear from an approaching group of people or an individual who might pounce. There’s a great discussion about prevention and intervention going on this month, and at CPI we strive to help you in that discussion every day of the year.

Together, we can stop bullying from becoming routine!

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