Bullying is an unwanted, mean, aggressive behavior that is mostly encountered among school kids. It is a repeated action or communication that perceives an imbalance of strength or power. If not confronted or resolved, it can have serious lasting effects on both the bully and the one being bullied. Although schools are taking more action in handling this, parents play a major role to encourage kids in preventing and stopping bullying.
Types of Bullying
There are four types of bullying a parent should be aware of:
Verbal bullying is when someone uses mean spoken words to someone. This can be in the form of name-calling, teasing, using disrespectful words, threats, or comments about someone's appearance, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, or beliefs.
Physical bullying is an aggressive hitting of people or possessions. It involves tripping, spitting, kicking, blocking, touching, or pushing inappropriately. It can also be breaking someone's things and making rude hand gestures.
Relational bullying is also referred to as social bullying. It involves purposely excluding someone from the group. It involves spreading rumors about someone, leaving someone out, making someone feel invisible, embarrassing others in public, and telling other kids not to be friends with someone.
Cyberbullying is online bullying that involves spreading mean words, and false news about someone thru social media, email, or by text messaging. It can create a toxic atmosphere even when not directly targeting an individual.
Know if your child is a victim
A natural reaction of a bullied child is to turn away from things that make them stressed, like avoiding school. A bullied victim might also complain about a tummy ache because of stress, or have fears or worries. Here are other signs to look for if your child is being bullied:
having no friends
quiet and secretive
withdrawn and isolated
oversensitive and cries
have physical injuries, like scratches, bruises, etc.
have missing/damaged things
having angry outbursts
losing interest in favorite activities
Ask your child how school is, how her classmates are to her, and know which friends she's getting along with or which one is not. It is good to establish good communication with your kids, and let them know that they can tell you anything and that you are there to listen. If your child mentioned something about bothers or makes her worried, do not brush it off, instead, ask for more details. It is best to keep yourself calm, stable, and strong. Your kid does not need you to be frustrated, or mad, instead, they want you to listen and feel your reassurance and support.
Effects of bullying
Your child may feel helpless and lost their confidence over time. They may feel alone or depressed, so they need to have someone who will support and listen. Victims may also feel anxious, and isolated due to rejection. They may also feel ashamed that it is happening to them and feel unsafe around people. The effects are serious and can harm anyone's mental health.
Dealing with bullies
Teaching your child how to respond
Teach your kid about phrases that he can use if someone is bullying them. Phrases like, "that's not nice," "back off," "leave me alone." or "yeah, whatever," then walk away. The goal of these kinds of phrases is to stop the bullying behavior but not in an antagonistic way. It should be direct, simple, and not aggravate the bully. Practice or role-play until your child is comfortable saying those phrases, making her firm and confident. Advised them not to whine and cry as it satisfies the bully leading to more bullying. Experts say that responses that acknowledge the behavior of the bully.
"We do not do that here"
"Those words are hurtful"
"You are hurting me"
“No more, not here, never"
"That was mean"
"That was cruel"
"Do not treat people like that, that ain't right"
"That's not cool"
"Being mean does not make you better"
"That is hurtful and inappropriate"
"Stop and think about what you are saying/doing"
"How would you feel if someone do this to you?"
Developing your child's self-confidence
Acknowledge your kid's strengths and good behaviors. Encourage activities that bring out the best in your child. Let them do their favorite hobbies, and engage in social and extra-curricular activities. When they feel good about themselves, bullying will less likely to affect them. Appreciate their unique qualities and encourage positive behaviors that you would like to see more. Let your child feel that you love them no matter what, whether they succeed or fail, you will always be there for them.
Have open communication with your child. Ask how their day was and what has been up with them lately. Let them know that their safety and well-being are important and that they can talk to their parents about anything that bothers them.
Teach them about positive body language
Teach your child on maintaining eye contact as it signifies that a person is sincere, honest, and confident. Also, help them learn to have a good posture, square their shoulders and hold their head high. A good body posture with eye contact can make them look brave and confident and can discourage a bully from their behavior. If a child shows that they cannot be bothered or affected by the bullying, the bully will move on.
The best way to react
Advise your kids to let not the bully get into them. Tell them not to feel bad and disregard what the bully says. Remind themselves of the positive attributes they have. Do not cry in front of the bully as this will encourage them to bully more. They can talk to the bully in a calm and determined voice about how they feel about the bully's behavior. Your child can also laugh at the threats, make humor out of them, then walk away. Also, advise your child that if a bully is about to hurt them, just give the bully what they want, (a possession, homework, etc.), walk away then tell an adult.
It is important that your child should not expect to be mistreated. Advise that they can be friendly and think that other kids will treat them nicely. They should act the way they should be treated. Be kind and nice to others so that others will do so as well. You can also advise your kids to do what is right, to help stand up for others who are being mistreated.
When to report bullying
If the offender continues bullying despite the above-mentioned actions, document every situation and report it to your child's school. Talk to a teacher, guidance counselor, or principal about how they can help resolve the matter. If the bullying is severe and hurts your child physically and mentally, ask for a therapist's help or report the incident to a police officer. You may also seek assistance from community resources or organizations that can help resolve and stop the bullying.
Talking to the bully's parents
You may reach out to the offender's parents if absolutely necessary if the bully keeps on doing what he does, and if you feel that the parents can accept and work with you to resolve the matter. You may do it via email or call and let them know that your goal is to resolve and help your kids to get along.
Experts do not usually recommend talking to the offender's parents as they may not believe that their child is a bully, they might become defensive and may lead to other arguments, or they might scold their kid, which can lead to more bullying. Talking to the parents can be an option if the school is not responsive or does not handle the situation well or if the bullying occurs outside the school (playground, social activities, etc.)
You must remain calm when talking to a parent and not label their kid as a bully. You can describe the actions that the offender did and ask the guardian for help to make the bullying stop. Avoid the blame game and work together for the best resolution. If the parent would not cooperate it is okay as we cannot control how they would react. The best thing you can do is to support your child, maintain open communication, teach them to be resilient, and let them know that you always got their back.
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