My sister is four years younger to me but treats me as if I’m a beggar. She is skinny and I’m a bit chubby; she calls me names like donkey, elephant, buffalo, etc. She is learning karate, so when there is a fight she kicks and punches me hard. She even fights with our mother. In school she embarrasses me in front of my friends and classmates. She does not study, and my parents are concerned about her grades. In school, others too complain about her. I feel ashamed of her. I want to kill her!
Looks like you are feeling extremely hurt, embarrassed, helpless and frustrated. Your sister’s behaviour is that of a bully and you are her target. A person who bullies acts in an aggressive manner and expects a reaction. This reaction makes him/her feel victorious and successful. So, rather than react, it is better to respond. You can do this in the following ways:
- Love yourself: Value yourself – You have to believe that you are a worthwhile person and do not deserve to be treated this way.
- Show confidence: Even if you don’t feel it inside, walk straight and tall with your shoulders back and head high. Avoid showing fear.
- Confront calmly: Say in a firm voice, “I don’t appreciate your behaviour. Please stop.” Or, “I don’t appreciate being treated this way.”
- Diffuse tension: Walk away when your sister gets verbally or physically offensive. If she follows you, either walk away again or 1) Wait, look at her or 2) Calmly ask, “Have you finished?” 3) Hold your palm up to show ‘stop’ or ‘enough’ and walk away again.
- Ignore her: Avoid lecturing her on how to behave. Instead ignore her.
- Get support: Build relationships with friends — they are your support and joy.
Repeat these steps, each time she bullies you till you feel confident and she gets the message that you can’t be messed with.
Nasreen Hashambhoy is a Counsellor, Life Coach and a Facilitator of training programmes for schools and corporates. Through a combination of coaching, counselling and facilitation techniques based on cognitive science and positive psychology, she helps clients achieve their true potential. She is the author of the series Values In Action published by Better Yourself Books.