Every generation has had to deal with bullies, usually around middle school age. Now it seems that bullies are emerging sooner in the younger grades.
How do you spot it and what can you do?
Bullying takes many forms. It ranges from the physical such as pushing or hitting. It can also be psychological and verbal like name calling and spreading rumors.
Social media has only popularized the bullying by bringing further attention to the bullies themselves. These bullies can operate quite freely after school hours using text messages and emails. This is called cyber bullying and is quite dangerous because, despite of what is believed, the internet is forever.
The first step is knowing when your child is a victim. Children who seem especially worried or stressed and complain of stomach troubles may be victims or bullying.
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, talk to them and ask about what is happening at school and in their social lives. Setting up a safe environment for communication will serve you well. Especially if your child knows that you will really listen when they talk. Do not get too emotional as your child needs to see you being strong and helpful so that you can reassure them.
If your child is being bullied, there are ways to deal with it. First of all help your child put together a plan of action before things get out of hand. Brainstorm some responses for your child to use when they feel they are being pushed around. A simple, “Stop talking to me that way.” They don’t have to be antagonistic, just stand up for themselves.
You can also try a “What if “ situations. Role Playing is a great way to prepare your child for any situation. It can also build confidence in your child so that they can face bullies and show strength. Show your how to speak in a clear voice without wavering. Crying may only encourage the bully to continue.
Encourage your child to use positive body language. Show them how to be confident and look people in the eye. This self confidence will help them avoid situations when a bully is seeking someone who is weak.
Establish and keep an open line of communication. by talking to your child every day about school and how their day went. Be calm and friendly and really listen to what you child says. Make sure they know that their safety is the most important thing to you. Reinforce positive behaviors and really shore up your child’s confidence.
If your child tells you that they stood up to a bully, make sure you let them know they did the right thing. Emphasize the importance of staying strong.
Prepare your child by teaching them how to react. They need to know that bullies are only looking for power and that they don’t have self-control or sympathy.
A few tips:
- Don’t let yourself be bothered by someone else negativity. If someone says something bad about you, say something good to yourself.
- If possible, tell the bully how you feel and what you would like them to do. If they are in danger, they should get away as soon as possible.
- Don’t reward the bully by reacting. Don’t let them know that they can’t hurt your feelings or bring you down.
- Use your own good judgement and rely on what you know is right.
- Don’t expect people to pick on you. Walk with confidence.
Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to teaching a child how to handle a bully. Keep the lines of communication open. Show them how to make smart choices and how to help others when they are being bullied. If you suspect that there is repeated, on going bullying, report it. Take your child with you and let them know that you are by their side.