Bullying or cyberbullying is when one child repeatedly taunts, teases, intimidates, or torments another child. These actions can be physical, verbal, or social. Bullying can occur at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones. Being subjected to bullying is a horrible experience for anyone, but especially difficult for a child.
With school back in session in a few short weeks, we thought it might be helpful to bring this important topic front of mind.
WHEN YOUR CHILD IS BULLIED
There are several steps you can follow in the event your child is subjected to bullying.
- Alert school officials and work with them in person toward a solution.
- Teach your child when and how to ask a trusted adult for help, and to be comfortable with doing so. Ask them to identify who they can ask for help.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings about being bullied and recognize the serious nature of bullying.
Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
- Look the bully in the eye.
- Always stand tall and stay calm despite the difficulty of the situation.
- Walk away.
- With your child, practice saying, in a firm voice:
- “I don’t like what you are doing.”
- “Please do NOT talk to me like that.”
What you can do as a parent:
- Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
- Support outside activities that interest your child.
- Find an adult who knows about the situation and can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
- Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.
- Document everything.
WHEN YOUR CHILD IS THE BULLY
This is tough on any parent but cannot be ignored.
- Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
- Teach your child to be a buddy, not a bully.
- Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
- Ask your child how they would feel if the tables were turned, and they were subject to torment.
- Teach empathy for other children by asking them to consider how the other child feels.
- Be a positive role model. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening, or hurting someone.
- Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
- Praise your child when their actions are positive, such as helping or being kind to others.
- Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, school social workers or psychologists, and parents of the children your child has bullied.
WHEN YOUR CHILD IS A BYSTANDER
Witnessing a bully torment a friend or classmate can be frightening for any child. Be sure you and your child talk about bullying so they understand that it may happen, and what to do if they witness it.
- Practice with your child how to find and tell a trusted adult about what is happening or has happened. Knowing what to say in advance will be helpful when/if the need arises.
- Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.
- Help your child support other children who have been or may be bullied. Making friends with these kids and including them in activities will make them feel less alone and know they have a friend they can count on.
For more information or assistance, please reach out to these resources:
Let’s work together to keep our kids safe!