Bullying is a sad reality that’s been happening in schools everywhere. In fact, even in 2010, over 160,000 children miss school out of fear of being bullied.
Bullies use their physical size, age, or gender to intimidate other children–whether by abusive language, social threats, physical aggression or psychological abuse. Usually, students who are quiet or those with disabilities are more likely to be targeted than others. Fortunately, schools are now doing more to address this long-standing problem. Nonetheless, as a parent, it is your responsibility to keep your child safe.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, the first thing to do is to take a long breath. As a parent, your first instinct may be to march over to the school, grab the bully by the neck and tell him to stop harassing your kid…or else. However, what you’re doing is just what the bully’s doing to your child. Remember, your goal is to help your child protect himself as much as possible, and not beat up another kid.
You’d need planning and understanding to keep your children safe. Here are eight tips to help your children overcome bullying.
1. Listen and encourage them to share concerns
If your child begins to hate school or say that other kids are mean to him, you must take the situation seriously–he may be a victim of bullying. It may be difficult to listen to your child talk about bullying, but you have to listen to what he or she says in a loving manner. Remain calm and express support, understanding and concern. If your child thinks you don’t understand his feelings, it will be difficult for them to open up in the future.
2. Share your own experiences and feel their pain
If your child learns that you too, have been teased, dissed, bullied or rejected as a child, he will realize that this experience is normal and can be dealt with. You can talk about how you felt at the time and what you did to handle the bullies. This can also help your child manage his emotional reactions to hard situations.
3. Learn about the situation
Ask your child about the bullying incident. How and when did it happen? Who is involved? Have other children witnessed it? Also ask your child what he has done to avoid or stop the bullying.
4. Brainstorm about how to respond to the bullying
Rather than concretely solving the problem for your child, invite your kid to think about what they can do. They may come up with shocking suggestions but accept them all in the spirit of brainstorming. Of course you don’t want them to retaliate or affirm surrender, but you can turn “strategic retreat” and “seeking help” as good sense. Once you and your child come up with a plan, make sure to affirm it, giving him more confidence.
5. Talk to school officials
Don’t contact the bully’s parents yourself. Instead, contact your child’s teacher, school counsellor and school principal. You can also encourage school officials to focus on the problem of bullying as part of the curriculum.
6. Follow up
Ask your child for any progress with regards to bullying. If it persists, contact school officials again.
7. Seek help from authorities, if needed
You should know when to seek help from authorities and professionals. If your child has been physically attacked or threatened with harm, talk to the school officials immediately to see if the police should be involved. If circumstances lead to getting legal services, prepaid legal expense plans, like those from Legal Shield, can help you battle with expensive lawyer fees.
8. Boost your child’s self-esteem
Children who are bullied tend to have low self-esteem, even long after the incident happened. As a parent, it is your duty to pick them up, and make them feel special again. If not acted upon, low self-esteem can lead to lasting problems such as depression and anxiety. Encourage them to join music, art, or sports classes to build friendships and develop social skills.
Do you have any other tips to share?
About the author
Based in San Diego, California, Melissa Page is an advocate of child safety. She writes about health and relationships, among other things. For more of her works, visit Word Baristas.