Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which one or more children intentionally and repeatedly harass another child. Bullying causes another person discomfort; typically a bully teases, hurts or threatens a smaller or weaker child who has trouble standing up for him or herself and does absolutely nothing to provoke the bullying.
If your child is being bullied, she may not confide in you. Your child may be embarrassed or afraid. Parents can look for the following common signs:
- Tattered clothing,
- Unexplained bruises,
- Fearful of going or taking a different way to school,
- Grades suddenly drop,
- Increased sadness or nightmares,
- Recurring ailments, e.g., stomach-ach, headache,
- Changes in social life, e.g., friends stop calling, and
Parental Tips to Battle Bullying
It is estimated that one in four school-age children has either been a bully or a victim of bullying.
Look for changes in your child. We all know our children well enough to predict many of their actions. For example, parents know what typically excites or angers their child. If your child’s behavior changes, ask questions. Openly discuss any issues your child may have with a bully and provide them with assurance that you will help. Actively listen to your child, show empathy and support him – DO NOT play the blame game.
Help your child develop self esteem. Encourage your child to obtain a skill or get involved in an activity. She can join a sports team or a club. Our school offers a wide range of activities, e.g., chess club, hip hop, football. Contact your school to see what after school clubs or sports they are currently offering. If your school doesn’t offer activities, look for activities with your city, county or local organizations. DO NOT let your child isolate himself.
Help your child develop good communication skills . Teach your child anti-bullying strategies. Empower your child by telling her to be assertive and stand up for herself. Do not teach her negative responses, e.g., bully back or ignore the bully (after first offense). Use role-play situations to teach your child how to respond in an assertive way.
Contact the school. Many schools today have a professional on staff to address any bullying issues. Often this person is the school counselor and can provide good communication skills. Keep your child’s teacher in the loop; make them aware of your conversations with the counselor. The teacher may be able to offer some valuable insight too. Also the principal is another person to reach out to. Our school provides a school bullying form.
Reward acts of compassion. Compliment your child when he demonstrates desired behaviors, e.g., holding the door open for a teacher or another child or helping a child pick up something she dropped. Of course, modeling acts of compassion goes a long way. Treat others with respect and compassion. Talk to your kids about supporting those who are subject to bullying. Ask them how they would feel – teach them empathy. If you can have your child relate to the emotions of the victim, they are less likely to become a bully.
Avoid excessive physical punishment. When reprimanding your children, try alternative punishments such as timeouts, removal of privileges or additional chores (one of my personal favorites) in lieu of physical aggression.
Stop inappropriate behavior. I like to state the obvious. If your child demonstrates inappropriate, aggressive behavior (bullying) correct them immediately. Implement a zero tolerance policy for bullying.
For more information, please visit our bullying and teasing page.