Conflict Resolution versus Tollerance : Adults Bullying at the pool

Posted: March 10, 2012 in A Broader look at Bullying, Advice for Parents, Personal Bullying Stories

It was a Sunday afternoon, the sun was out, the pool was warm, and the Jacoozi was hot!  There were 25 or so splashing kids in the Olympic size pool, and parents seeking shade and relief at the pool’s perimeter.   I was focused on spending time holding my breath underwater, imagining I was somewhere else, like the Bahamas, Hawaii, or Catalina on a very hot day.  Upon taking a breath, I noticed that the Jacoozi was open, and I literally jumped on the opportunity to occupy it.  It was at this point I heard someone yell “I’m gonna do laps in this lane, so stay out of my way!” then a big splash.  Seeing kids heads looking towards their poolside parents for direction on how to react, the parents looked back with an equally confused stare.  The “Lapper” did not ask, but told everyone what he was going to do, and just went on to his laps, in the number two lane, right through all of the splashing kids!  From my vantage point, it was easy to see that there was bound to be conflict.  Some kids simply didn’t get out of the way, and the Lapper kept lapping!  Upon running into the kids, he got aggressive and yelled at some of them (I found out later that he said “If you don’t move, I will hit you).  This is when things started to go south.  The mom of the child he yelled at, snapped, reacted, and followed the Lapper shouting at him until he reached and reset in the shallow end.  Hand on hip, finger out, and loudly speaking her mind, this Mom was standing up for her child, and for every other child in the pool.  The Lapper, rather than being apologetic, got very aggressive and the conflict escalated and the entire pool was fixated on what was happening but no one knew what to do.  This is when I decided to get involved, and I re-directed the attention, suggested that the conversation was private verses public, and calmly talked each party through a middle ground solution, making sure to let the Lapper know his actions were inappropriate, and that if he talked to any other children, I would personally see to it that he leaves.  My interaction diffused the situation, but the kids and parents were a bit shell shocked to say the least.  I had no problem getting involved because I am trained in conflict resolution, and have the confidence to stand up for other people.

I had a number of parents come up to me afterwards and thank me for getting involved, and this situation made me realize how important “Bully Buster” training is for adults just as much as it is for children!

As a culture, we are not taught Conflict Resolution, but taught Tolerance instead.  I believe that more focus needs to be on Conflict Training, to stop conflict in action or before it happens, versus allowing “Adult Bullying” behavior to occur and being “tolerant” of it.

When people hear the word “Bullying” they typically think of children, but what word do we have for “Adult Bullying?”   I spent some time trying to marry these two words (Bullying+adult) to come up with a new word, but had “Adultying” didn’t have the right ring, or effect I was hoping for.  On deeper thought, the “Adult +Bullying”  I found is really just “Arguing” at the end of the day.

Adults argue, and things can and do escalate, and adults need to know how to de-esclate situations rather than just allowing the arguing to turn into violence.  As adults we need to set examples for kids, as they look to us for how to handle themselves, especially in a public arena.  With the invent of the hand held video, flip, and camera phone, and youtube, as a society we have been exposed to so much violence, that maybe we are desensitized to adult arguing and violence, making us think that it is common place, or that we should tolerate it.

I challenge adults to always stick up for others during conflict, rather than letting it continue, and work to resolve conflict rather than becoming more tolerant towards those who prefer to make conflict common place.   And if you feel the need to argue in front of children, check your emotions, act like an adult, and have a private conversation, working towards a compromise.

Ryan Foland

Arguing Adult Buster

Bully Buster OC

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