How to Support Your Child in Bullying Environment?
Most of us have heard about bullying incidents among teenagers or even children, which actually can happen to anyone at any age. Bullying is the act of someone being mean and condescending to others, over and over again. It can take the form of physical bullying and verbal bullying. For example, a hit, push, or poke to others, or insulting in front of others, shaming and threatening, spreading rumors against another person, all these are considered as bullying.
Warning Signs to Identify Bullying Behaviur
Some children may not be forthcoming to share that they are being picked on by other kids. Few may be scared to bring it up to their parents for the fear that their parents may hold them responsible in return; others might think their parents may not take it seriously.
Given that a child may not be vocal about being bullied, it is imperative for parents and caregivers to pay heed to some common warning signs in them, such as:
• There is a sudden loss or increase in appetite
• They stay inside their rooms for most part of the day
• They fear going to school and make excuses for a day off
• Seem angry, irritated or anxious and want to be left alone
• They don’t want to play with their usual friends
• Their grades at school are declining
• They often complain about headaches, stomach cramps, or nausea
• You spot physical injuries like bruises, cuts, wounds etc. on them
Role of Parents in Supporting the Bullied Child
No child deserves to grow up in an unsafe environment. If your child is being bullied, here are some things you could do:
• Praise your child for trusting the parents/caregivers and reassure him/her that the problem will be taken care of.
• Affirm to your child that no matter what the situation, it is not his/her fault. Since your child may fear retaliation, it is imperative to tell him/her that no action will be taken without complete and thorough discussion.
• Do not encourage your child to act in a revengeful manner. Not only can the situation become worse, he/she can internalize the message that revenge is acceptable.
• Be careful of how you react to the bullying stories your child shares with you. If you get too angry, agitated or retaliatory, they might reserve the details and be scared to share further. Try to go on a fact-finding mission without getting too emotional about it. Staying calm will keep your mind unclouded and help with finding appropriate solutions.
• Have your child be in a safe group of friends who generally do a lot of activities together, like walk together to school, sit together at lunch break, etc.
• Encourage your child to join some interest classes like drama or skating and help them keep busy with hobbies and friends that are outside the school, or wherever the bullying behavior is being witnessed.
• Support your child work on their dreams and aspirations. Let him/her not get bogged down by one problem in life. Of course, work to find a solution, but don’t let it be the sole point of discussion at home.
• Discuss the situation with class teacher or principal or the concerned adult. Involving the people in authority will send a clear message within the institute that bullying in unacceptable.
• In very serious cases, do not wait too long to seek professional help such as counselling. If you see the impact on the bullied child is grave, accompany the kid to the right support specialist.
Preventive Support to Bullying
Here are some suggestions to help your child get acquainted with bullying and prepared as to how to behave should a situation arises:
1. Have Periodic Conversation with Kids
It is always wise to communicate deeply with the children. Chat with them and listen to them often. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns. Websites such as https://www.stopbullying.gov/ offers information, videos and games for children to help them stay alert and aware.
2. Model Positive Behaviour at Home
Robert Fulgham succinctly put it, “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you.” Children often imitate parents’ behaviors and reactions. The more loving the family environment, the higher chances that your kids stay protected. Children learn balance of authority and responsibility in loving relationships. However, if one of the parents uses power over the other, the child might imitate this pattern and may end up abusing peers or let others abuse him/her.
3. Equip Them with Assertive Phrases
Teach your child how to make their needs met by being assertive yet respectful. Let them use phrases confidently such as:
“I’d like to have a chance now to get on the swing.”
“Hey, I don’t like this. Could you please not do it.”
4. Imbibe Responsibility Towards Others
Teach your child how to go all the way out to help those being bullied, and not just be a bystander. Tell them how they can spot the victim and try to remove them from danger. They could help the victim by saying out loud “oh the teacher is looking for you” or “I wanted some help on an assignment” etc.
5. Enact Scenes Together
Try role playing with your child to prepare him/her to stand up to a bully. The bully wants to provoke a response and the child needs to learn how to control the response. If the child has rehearsed a few times, the response won’t flare up in the actual moment. Here are some phrases you can teach the child:
“You know, I’m just going to ignore that comment.”
“Don’t do that.”
“Well, that’s what you think.” Then walk away.
Tips for Children who are Bullied
• It doesn’t matter which country you are from, what language you speak, what accent you have, no one has the right to bully you. We are all unique and we all should respect each other as we are.
• It is imperative you share what you are going through with a trusted adult. Be it your parents, your friend’s parent, your teacher or a professional.
• Try to keep a diary to list down all unfavorable events, who all were involved. If it is a case of cyber bullying, save the relevant messages, pictures or videos.
• Do not try to engage verbally or physically with the bully. You can find yourself in deeper trouble.
• Practice a couple of phrases/actions with an adult about what to say to bully to make him/her stop.
• Team up with friends to avoid interactions with the bully.
• Stay kind to others. Just because when a mean person is tormenting you, you don’t have to reciprocate the same to the rest of the world.
We all want our children to be safe and feel safe. It is our duty to be aware of what’s happening in their lives, to safeguard them from any physical or emotional harm. We can make a difference by showing our kids how to be there for others, how to ask for and graciously accept help, and how to display positive behavior no matter how others around us react. What they see, they become.
Here are just a few of the many options available when you search Family & Health in Whizpa's database, such as Child and Family Centre, Coach Lee, Cryolife, The Companions, etc. Don’t forget to leave your reviews for other parents’ reference!