Bullying is one of the most unfortunate things that has ever happened in our society. Insecurities and wanting to be better than the rest has stirred up a social behavioral change not only among the older generations but something that has also seeped through the innocence and purity of children.
?Being bullied can have traumatic consequences for a child, leading to poor school performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression,? says Parents advisor David Fassler, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont
As parents, we would want to shield our children from these emotionally harmful situations. But, as much as we would like to, unfortunately we cannot completely shield them.
How do you know your child is being bullied? What do you do if they are being bullied?
We have gathered the opinions of experts to provide some insight on how parents can help their child when being bullied.
1. Listen Before Anything Else
10 out of 10 times, children who are being bullied will not volunteer the information. They tend to keep it to themselves in fear of their parents going into the school to speak with the principal, and potentially making things worse for them socially.?Instead, look out for signs such as refusing to go to school.
As a parent, you have the right to ask your child and check up on them. If you feel like something is wrong, don?t push them to tell you but don?t just shrug it off either. They will eventually tell you.
When they do tell you, keep an open mind and listen first before anything else. You will have a million questions running through your mind but save your comments and questions for later.
Let them air it out. Chances are that they have bottled up feelings. Remember: act instead of react.
2.?Don?t Tell Them What to Do
It?s totally understandable for parents to be angered when their child is being bullied. The make or break is how you channel the anger you feel. Be careful not to take it out on your child.
In the heat of the moment, reflex defense mechanisms kick in. You may ask your child, ?Why didn?t you speak up sooner?? or ?Why didn?t you defend yourself?? but statements like these will cause them to recluse thinking that you think it?s their fault their being bullied and you would be none the wiser.
Guide them instead of telling them what to do. Sometimes, there are just some things we need to step away from and let our child handle it. Depending on the severity of the bullying, the main role as parents is to stay aware of what?s going on and guide them.
3. Talk to Their Teachers
This is one thing you don?t have to think twice about. Once you are aware of the bullying, talking to your child’s teacher would be the next step. Find out if they know about the bullying, what they can do and how they can help.
Include the principal and guidance counselor as well if the situation needs additional attention.
Teachers are educated to help handle bullying and they would be the best people to keep watch over your child when you can’t.
4. Empower Them
In addition to not directing your child in in terms of what to do, it?s also important that your child knows your view on the situation. Some parents think that fighting back will make things worse while some parents encourage their child to fight back.
It?s a matter of parenting opinion and though you don?t want them to resort to violence, it is important to teach them to be the bigger person. There?s a difference between cowering in fear and choosing to be the bigger and better person.
Ask them what they think they can do to make things better. It?s okay to tell them that they can defend themselves after letting the offending party know enough is enough. Teach them to turn the other way but also to know when to draw the line and defend.
If they are being called hurtful names, don?t tell them to fight back by name calling as well, instead teach them to counter those lies with affirmations.
5. Encourage Positive Response
One of the best ways your child can stand up to a bully is through a positive response. Now, this might not be as simple to teach or practice like the other points above but, this is the game changer.
It?s all about response. For instance, if there is a bully in kindergarten, practice a firm voice with your child along with a few statements experts suggest to stop a bully such as,??I will not play with you anymore if you?re mean.? or ?Stop bothering me!?.
Praise your child as well if they stand up to their bully positively. Tell them how proud you are for defending themselves maturely. Or, if you see another child stand up to their bully, point that out to your child so they can see and can follow suit.
?The key is that a comeback shouldn?t be a put-down, because that aggravates a bully,? says Dr. Borba.
Teaching your child to diffuse tough situations like this at an early age can make a difference when they grow up. And though parenting views differ, you can always consult the school or other parents you trust for their opinion.
Bullying is something that can be prevented and as parents we have a lot of influence on how bullying is handled.