Bullying is any activity that is meant to hurt someone and bullies act as if they believe that it is okay to treat others with hatred, disrespect, and cruelty. Most parents want to help their children if they are bullied and often suggest avoiding the bully, striking back (verbally or physically), or telling a teacher. There are a number of other strategies that parents can use to help their child put a stop to bullying while encouraging assertive, self esteem enhancing behavior.
LISTEN to your child about the situation and try not to minimize or exaggerate it.
DOCUMENT each incident your child tells you and assure your child that you will help them.
TALK to your child’s teacher or principal encourage them to intervene and even organize a bullying education program. Empathy training should be included in this as well as empowering other children to speak up when they witness bullying (as they might be on the receiving end one day).
ACT or role play scenarios with your child so that they can try some new responses to situations when bullying begins. For example, practice with your child putting your hands up in front of you and saying very loudly “NO, LEAVE ME ALONE.” By putting your hands up in front of you, you are creating a physical barrier, creating your personal space. Also, by loudly stating NO your child will draw adult attention.
ADVISE your child that he/she use humor next time they are being bullied. This might surprise the bully and diffuse the situation.
ENCOURAGE your child to stick with a friend during lunch, recess, on the school bus, etc. Bullies try to single out someone, with a friend by their side your child will be less likely to be singled out.
REMEMBER, your child may not bring up being bullied due to fear, embarrassment, or insecurity. Do take the lead in initiating talks about bullying.
If you or your child need assistance responding to bullying please call us at 631-427-6669; our clinical staff excels at assisting children with interpersonal communication, self esteem, and the social effects of bullying.