On Parenting and Bullying: How Empathy may be part of the Solution!

So you may be asking yourself, “Now, just why is it that Bunnies end up having so few problems with Bullying?” And well, a Bunny may then reply to you that this is, indeed, another excellent question!

Said Bunny might then proceed to explain that, over the years,

Bunny Scout IllustrationBunnies have found both the teaching and the practicing of Empathy to be one of the most effective ways imaginable to help combat Bullying.

However, before we get into things, we want to be sure that EveryBunny understands that we are committed to keeping all Bunnies and all Humans as Safe as possible and, therefore, encourage AnyBunny in distress to reach out for support.

Life should not be as hard as it sometimes seems! And NoBunny should ever have to suffer alone. If you find yourself dealing with extreme cases of Aggression or Bullying Please Seek Help. There are a number of Toll Free Hotlines Available on line that can guide you to a safer situation. Some of these include:

suicidepreventionlifeline.org  This Lifeline provides 24/7, Free and Confidential support for those in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

stopbullying.gov/get-help-now  This is a comprehensive website with information about Bullying for parents, teens, kids, educators and the community.

thehotline.org  This is the National Domestic Violence Hotline providing 24 hour Confidential Support and is a vital link to safety for women, men, children and families affected by domestic violence.

teenhealthandwellness.com/static/hotlines  This link lists hotlines, help lines, and information lines, organized by subject. These national organizations can also refer you to state and local services in your community.

Our Blog posts are for inspirational purposes only and are intended to be uplifting and positive. We are not licensed Human therapist or Human medical professionals. We are Bunnies and, therefore, only officially trained in Bunny disciplines.

Carrots Illustration

Now, with that taken care of, let’s get back to the task at paw which is Speculating on just what in the world to do to keep a Bunny from slipping through the cracks and turning into a Full Fledged Bully?

You see, although Bunny culture is extraordinarily rich in Values such as Kindness and Compassion, we do, every once in a while, find that Kindness alone is just not enough. And, therefore, it is crucial that we teach and practice other Values as well.

Now, there are two points inherent in the above statement, by the way, and those are Teaching and Practicing. It might be even more effective to say Practicing and Teaching as the Actions always carry far more weight than the Words!

Bunny with flowersSo, what other Values might be helpful in the raising of polite, friendly and vital Bunnies?

Well, a number of things quite frankly. But here we would like to focus on something quite specific and critical to our evolution as a loving species, and that, my friend, is Empathy.

For, an integral part of identifying where Kindness might be most needed in our lives is understanding not only how other Bunnies may see the world, but also, what others may be feeling, thinking and experiencing!

 

What exactly is Empathy anyway?

Empathy, in Bunny life, is defined as the ability to identify, understand and share another Bunny’s reality. This requires that one is not only sensitive to another Bunny’s feelings and emotions, but that one can vicariously experience what it is that the other may be thinking and feeling while simultaneously understanding why this may be so!

Bunny Aggression

We often find that any Bunnies that do develop behavioral problems typically lack not only self worth, but also the essential Bunny skills like Kindness, Empathy and Compassion.

Now, as Bunnies we know that Empathy, like Kindness, is actually a skill that can be taught, learned and practiced. And, if the priorities are demonstrated consistently, everything will generally fall right into place for most Bunnies and Humans alike come by Empathy quite naturally.

You see, outside of any clinical psychiatric conditions, all Bunnies and Humans, have the ability to Empathize. However, like walking and talking, it is a skill that must be developed in order for it to become part of how a Bunny routinely sees and participates in their world.

We do know that Empathy exists as a value in Humans because, although we aren’t really sure exactly where the expression “to walk a mile in another man’s shoes” originated, we do know that it is used. And, because there have been so many wise Humans throughout so many diverse cultures, we are pretty sure that similar expressions have recurred throughout time.

Bunny reading To Kill a MockingbirdWe have further and quite specific evidence of Empathy in Humans through our study of the American writer Harper Lee’s classic and moving novel To Kill A Mockingbird. In this Pulitzer Prize winning literary Masterpiece, it is explained that:

“You never really understand another person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

And with Bunnies, oh my sweet carrots, this idea goes way, way, way back to the ancient Lagomorphs, Gomphos Elkema, that lived around 55 million years ago in the region known today as Mongolia. These ancient Bunnies were known for both their Kindness and their Empathy. The saying passed down from the great Gomphos Elkema was “There is no one proper way to see the world. A Bunny must be able to slip into EveryBunny’s fur and hop around in it in order to know true wisdom.”

So, just how does a Bunny go about Teaching and Practicing Empathy Anyway?

Well the first step is actually listening, talking and listening.

You see, starting at a very young age, we Bunnies talk and we listen. It is important that this start early early early for three reasons, the first being because it builds a level of trust with a young Bunny, the second, being because it leads to the development of self-worth and finally because one can not possibly begin to understand Empathy without the ability to communicate about thoughts and feelings.

[I know, I know… this sounds overwhelming! These are things many Humans don’t really consider when they sign up to be parents. The amount of energy, patience and vigilance required is extraordinary. But here is the thing, you don’t have to do it perfectly. As long as each generation does a little bit better than the previous, that is progress, forward movement, evolution.]

As the young Bunny gets older and is better able to communicate, the act of listening becomes even more important! Thus, here we would like to take a minute to explain a bit about listening. See what Bunnies know and Humans tend to forget is that one cannot actually listen to anyBunny else and be on a smart phone at the same time…

Bunny Scouts

So first let’s go over the Bunny Method for Proper Listening

Step One: Observation

Ironically, the first step in Bunny listening is looking! We begin by looking the other Bunny in the eye; we take note of any facial expressions, how they are holding their ears, if they are fidgeting, their entire countenance of the Bunny, for sometimes these subtleties will say more than the actual words that the Bunny employs. We also try to remember to keep in mind what is actually happening in the other Bunny’s life at the time for this too may inform the situation.

Step Two: Now comes Listening

We let the other Bunny do the talking and we pay careful attention to what is being said. Remember to not jump in with advice or share your own experience at this point. Step Two is purely about listening skills. Here it is also important to remember that you will be hearing one side of a multifaceted situation.

Step Three: Asking

Here is where we remind you to be careful about the illusion that you know what the other Bunny is thinking or feeling. We are not exhibiting Empathy at this point. We are gathering information and we need to be very specific about what the other Bunny is trying to communicate. We ask clarifying questions to ensure that we truly understand and we paraphrase back to them to make sure that they know that we are trying to understand.

All of this requires patience of course, but it is another piece of the valuable life skills so essential to Bunny culture. You see all of this effort is, in fact, two fold. Firstly, one is connecting with the little Bunny and secondly, one is modeling for them how to connect with others. In the end, this provides comfort and support even if it doesn’t solve any problems at all.

Carrots Illustration

The Significance of Talking

Now that we have covered proper listening skills, we need to discuss the importance of talking.

Talking does not have to be complicated to be effective. Simple conversations about daily life and feelings are essential. Why? Well because it keeps a dialogue going. As you and your little Bunny check in about this and that, you are reinforcing the fact that what the little Bunny thinks and feels and experiences are, in fact, important to you.

Open lines of communication are going to become more and more essential as the Bunny grows and so one must keep talking and keep listening. And one easy way to do this is with the “How was your day?” routine.

However, as we progress along, sometimes we have to get a little more creative to avoid the “Fine” trap. So Bunnies like to shake it up a little bit with things like “Did anything funny happen today?”… scary, sad, smelly?… These can be interspersed with “Who did you sit with at lunch?”  basics.

The important things are to encourage them to answer honesty on the small questions as this will help when bigger things come up, and to remember to tie it back in to “How did this make you feel?” or “How do you think the other Bunny experienced that? Did they think it was clever?”… “What could you have done?”…

Bunny sharing a carrot with a puppySo, as an example, one might say to a young Bunny:

“It was very kind of your to share your carrots with Fluffy. She left her lunch at home so she was not only hungry, but she was also feeling sad and possibly embarrassed because others had food and she didn’t. By sharing you made her very happy. You are very generous. What would have happened if you didn’t share? Do you see how your actions effected her life? I am very proud of the choice that you made.”

Another bit that Humans miss from time to time is relating these things back to your own life! An applicable anecdote from your day can go a long way in registering and validating your little one’s experience. It is critical in assuring them that they are not alone with anything. At this point you are exhibiting Empathy!

So talk about things and feelings. Point out where they practiced their Values in the behaviors they report or exhibit. Ask questions like “what if that had happened differently?” Praise Acts of Kindness. Look, ask, listen and create moments of connection.

And this brings us to another really important point and that is that we are looking to create Connections, so it is critical that one Relate rather than Compare or Counter. One of the least effective parenting strategies ever is to constantly disagree.

I once knew a Bunny father who had a terrible habit of constantly disagreeing with his little Buck. And my thoughts always went to: how in the world is there ever even a shred of space for the poor creature to exist when every little thing he says or does is somehow eternally incorrect! Not that this wasn’t a loving father Bunny or that this was at all his intention. But one could certainly see the effect it had on the poor, depressed little Bunny.

Bunny Scouts

Now I will give you a little tip here that might help illustrate an effective use of both Bunny Communication and Bunny Empathy.

One of the most common phrases a parent of both Bunnies and Humans of a certain age will ever hear is “Oh you just don’t understand!” See young Bunnies and young Humans alike can get so caught up in the intensity of their experience and what it is that they are trying to process that they end up not having words to fit their frustrations and this is typically what they come out with.

But here is a really neat Bunny trick! When this comes up, and come up it certainly will, we explain that we grown Bunnies actually, maybe, sort of, kinda might. You see, here is the thing, if you take a moment to explain to the frustrated little Bugger that the faces might have been different, the style and the music. But the feelings, thoughts and confusion we had growing up were, in fact, similar.

We always try to remember to say similar rather than the same. Never would we want to discount their individuality in any way. For, at this point, individuality is precisely what it is that they are struggling to develop!

Two Bunnies TalkingNow, a great example of this technique in action is when a friend was dealing with a bit of trouble with his preteen Bunny. She was insisting that he had no idea what she was going through. He stopped her and said, “Look, you are in 6th grade right? Do you think you could give another little Bunny going into say 2nd or 3rd grade some advice about things? About what it was like being a 2nd grade?” She arrogantly said “Of course”. And his reply was, “So then, can you imagine that I was once your age and that I could possibly have some idea about what that was like?”

Once the young Bunny realized this, she was far more open to what my friend had to say relating to her problem. You see, sometimes, we all overlook these details. But when faced with a roadblock, we Bunnies don’t just surrender. We talk and listen calmly and gently until we can find a way around it. And what my friend did so brilliantly here is he figured out a way to allow his little Doe to relate to him rather than just compare.

You see, Bunnies really do look to their parents and adult role models for advice and help. They might never admit it… But they do! And, if we are thoughtful about it, this can be fantastic because it allows for the building of Empathy on both sides, you for them and them for you. It is a matter of slowing down and thinking of a way to Connect rather that being purely Authoritative. Sometimes, if you are lucky, the young Bunny might just momentarily realize that you are, in fact, actually a real Bunny too!

And Finally we have a Great Bunny Game to Get Empathy Going

This exercise is just a fun little thing we do from time to time to ensure that EveryBunny is up on their Empathy skills. We find a public location, a sidewalk cafe, a market square, anywhere you can sit together and observe. What you are looking for is a place with a range of Bunnies and activities where you can speculate about what is going on in other Bunnies’ lives.

Bunny Scouts Seated IllustrationAnd then you just start speculating. No judgement should ever be applied at all! There is no right or wrong to any of it! There are just Bunnies living their lives the best way they know how. And we are just Bunnies being curious.

What we are speculating about it how another Bunny could be feeling, what they might be thinking, how they came to be in the situation they are currently in, and then even what could have happened differently, or what could they do now to help themselves? We are, in fact, trying to get into the other Bunny’s fur and hop around in it for a while! i.e., we are building Empathy!

You can even make it fun by beginning to wonder what the observed Bunny’s life may be like. Where did they come from? Where are they going? What is the story that is informing their actions? Eventually you can go further into the feeling and needs of the Bunny by pointing out the Core Values of all the Bunnies you meet in your life each and every day. And what acts of kindness they might most greatly benefit from.

The objective behind building empathy in this way is to help little Bunnies realize that everyBunny is different and that everyBunny has a story behind their behavior. The hope is that in broadening a Bunny’s world view, they will become more accepting and tolerant of difference. Moreover, in discussing the potential feelings and emotions of these stranger Bunnies, the little Bunnies will begin to be more in touch with their own thoughts and feelings as well as the impact their actions might have on others.

Incidentally, my young Doe loves this game and is incredibly skilled at coming up with reasons someBunny else might be behaving a certain way. And I applaud her on her creativity every time even if I know she is entirely off the mark. She has also become a pro at calling me out based on the look on my face. She is highly visual this way and can astutely surmise how a Bunny may feel about something by their body language alone.

Anyway, remember that this is just an exercise with no right or wrong answers. Look for subtleties, for the unique feelings and needs of a Bunny at a specific moment in time and always affirm your young Bunnies point of view while offering a version of your own be it similar or completely different!

This is something we Bunnies really enjoy because we Bunnies really do enjoy speculation and making up stories. We are incessantly curious about other Bunnies and other points of view. And thus, always respecting rules of stranger danger of course, we do encourage young Bunnies to engage in conversations with other. We teach them to ask gentle questions with more intention focused on the listening than on the asking.

Carrots Illustration

See, what we Bunnies know that Humans sometimes forget is that knowing more about others expands our own perspective; it enriches our own lives while simultaneously reinforcing our ability to Empathize! And the amazing thing is, we find that the more we ask questions, the more we learn! And the more our life is expanded, the more we realize that there is more to know and therefore, the more curious we become! And the more curious we become, the more enthralled with life we become! And this ultimately leads to the understanding that our world truly is a glorious and vital place for Bunnies to Be!

And this, my friend is ultimately the reason we have taken up Blogging! Because we know that if we could just get you Humans to slow down, take a deep breath and learn to be Curious about one another without the need to apply rightness and wrongness, you too could see the splendor of your own world!

Now, if you enjoyed this post please share the link with family and friends! We are trying to broaden out audience! And don’t forget to #eatmorecarrots

 

Title The Bunny in the Bush

Bunny Scout 88047 has an Advanced Degree in Applied Bunny Values and has served on Multiple Bunny Ethics Committees. She is currently a scout for Adam in Ontario.
The Bunny in the Bush is an Easter Story for Children that combines the origins of the Easter Bunny with a fun new Family Tradition that teaches values and encourages independent and creative thinking as you prepare to celebrate the Easter season!

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8 Comments

  • Robin Abrams Posted July 4, 2017 12:57 am

    This is some great information. We try to teach our grand kids about bullying and how to talk to others about not allowing it to happen. We all need to be kinder and understanding of others.

    • Scout, Bunny Posted July 4, 2017 1:09 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read it. We agree: Kindness Matters!

  • Zerin Hassan Posted July 17, 2017 12:08 am

    OMG i love this I have two rabbits

    • Scout, Bunny Posted July 17, 2017 12:37 am

      😉 thanks!

  • Shaylah Coogan Posted July 17, 2017 1:42 am

    Such an important topic for us to address with all kids!

    • Scout, Bunny Posted July 17, 2017 12:01 pm

      Ikr! Just a little more understanding can go a long way.
      #justbekind
      🙂 Scout

  • Debbie Posted July 17, 2017 3:24 am

    I think you hit the nail on the head here. We, as a society, are having trouble with empathy. We don’t believe there is any room for our differences. Thanks for the great info on teaching my little guys to be good big guys!

    • Scout, Bunny Posted July 17, 2017 12:05 pm

      Glad it resonated with you. We Bunnies really believe that caring, empathy and soft fuzzy snuggles are good for everybunny!
      Thanks for your comments!
      Bests, Scout

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