The Victim/Bully Game
The roles of bully and victim are all too familiar in our culture — not just in elementary school classrooms, but in the workplace, and even within families themselves. As any parent who’s struggled to support a child through the challenges of bullying (or struggled with it themselves) knows, the mental health consequences of bullying can be devastating. Children on both sides of the bullying equation experience low self-esteem, poor academic performance and diminished social skills.
Too often, the environments we inhabit in our daily lives are conducive to fostering bully/victim roles. Schools can be particularly challenging environments, where children are often encouraged to compete to get friends, good grades, attention, or a place in the social hierarchy. After some time in these environments, children stop growing. They adapt by adopting coping strategies that ultimately impede their growth and development. Consequently, the roles of victim and bully become familiar, solidified ways of relating, through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.
Often parents of victims are given advice to help their children to become more assertive, or better at playing the bully/victim game — in short, to help victims to become better bullies. Social Therapy helps both “bullies” and victims to become more creative in how they are living and relating to others. Social Therapy uses play, creativity, and performance as part of our therapeutic approach. We help children to see that participating in the “victim-bully game” is hurtful, and that instead of adapting to it, they have the capacity to create new ways of relating. For example, children can participate in creating an alternative, “giving game,” in which there is no place for the “getting” activity of bullying. We teach children, adults and families not to adapt to their environments, but to create new ones.
By helping children learn how to change the rules in their environment to encourage growthful, creative activity, we help children not just to survive, but to thrive in school, at home, and throughout their lives.
At the Social Therapy Group, we’ve worked with hundreds of families over the last decade using play, creativity, and performance as part of our therapeutic approach. Our multi-talented team of professionals helps support families and young people through their growing pains. Social Therapy offers holistic, development-centered therapeutic and support services. Our social therapeutic approach addresses and supports the total social, emotional, and educational needs of young people and the entire family.