Familial Bullying

Do you feel bullied by your child, parent or sibling?

All humans have unique personalities and temperaments, but people who bully have very particular traits, these are the three most prevalent styles:

The Defiant Bully

Is your child always opposing you? Does your parent blackmail you? Are you afraid of your brothers anger?

The most challenging of the bullying personality types, these individuals are exceedingly confrontational and oppositional. If you say, “Go right,” they will go left. Impulsive and impatient defiant bullies want to live on their own terms. They reject every attempt parents make to manage their behaviour.

Self-righteous and puffed up with false confidence, such people delight in debate—and are determined to win every argument. For them, being “right” takes priority over being respectful or getting along. When you try to stand up to their bullying, they may turn obsessive and harass you until you give in. Determined to get their way, they’ll stop at nothing.

Defiance in itself can be positive, it helps individuals to challenge the system and find creative ways to solve problems. The difficulty is if there is never any compromise and peace is impossible to achieve. Support the person to use their energy towards positive outlets and encourage them towards balance, where they use defiance to form individual thought and opinions whilst considering other views too. Boundaries are the key to containing and managing defiant behaviours.

The Anxious Bully

Is your child continually on the verge of a breakdown? Does she need constant comforting and reassuring? Are his anger filled monologues wearing you down?

Anxious children tend to oscillate between clinging to their parents and pushing them away. Of course, it’s natural for children to turn to their parents or caregivers for comfort, but an anxious child’s fretfulness is exhausting. Anxious people haven’t learnt the ability to self-soothe. The moment they feel threatened or frightened, they run to their parents or caregivers for reassurance….this can also happen the other way around with an anxious parent seeking reassurance from the child. Once they receive comfort, they reject their parents or children again—and so the cycle repeats itself.

In their heart, anxious people don’t want to be dependent, but they can’t break free of their reliance on them. They may appear less outwardly aggressive than defiant bullies, but their bullying—powered by constant neediness—is no less intense. Here’s the worst part: If anxious people don’t learn to be self-reliant, their loved ones are likely to become enablers. When this happens, the children rarely leave home or find their own way in the world: Love that enables ultimately disempowers. The anxious child, parent or sibling needs to be allowed to venture out into the world and encouraged that it’s a safe place to take risks.

The Manipulative Bully

Is your family member an excellent liar? Do they know how to exploit your fears? Are you blackmailed with threats of self-harm?

If you suffer fears and insecurities about your parenting or caring, it won’t take long for a manipulative bully to home in on them, particularly if you are an anxious or guilty parent/caregiver. Pretend illness or injuries, elaborate plots, extortion, blackmail—these are the tools that the manipulative bully may use to extort his wants and needs from others by preying on their anxieties and generating self-doubt.

Just as with the defiant and anxious bullying styles, the manipulative bully is trying to manage his fears and insecurities, in this case by controlling his environment and everyone in it. Getting to the root of his fears, and helping him put them into words, is key to helping a manipulative bully develop better ways of relating.

From Conflict to Cooperation

Naturally, our personalities are too complex to fit into such tidy little categories. The bullying styles discussed here offer a tiny insight through which to view the bullying behaviour. With a clearer understanding of his or her bullying style, you will gain a deeper understanding of the person’s inner life and be better prepared to steer your relationship in a new direction. Keep in mind that beneath the tough exterior of every bully is a scared child (whatever their age), constantly wrestling with insecurities and worries.

Bullying is an expression of their internal conflict. By understanding what makes your bully tick, you will gain insight into the nature of her fears, better understand the forces that fuel his bullying, and become poised to take action to restore balance.