Bullying in some form has been around since the beginning of time. There will always be someone stronger and someone weaker and today’s children are no different. What has changed over the years is the access that bullies have to their victims. It used to be only on the playground or corner store that there was access but now, with the advent of all of our technology, the bullying behavior can enter into the safety of our own homes and access our children at all hours of the day or night. It can be a scary situation for any parent and child to deal with so read on for some tips that EVERY parent should give their child regarding bullies.
1. A Bully Is Seeking A Reaction (Don’t give it to them)
Teach your children not to give the reaction a bully is seeking. If at all possible, it is best for a child to ignore and walk away from a bully. A perfect example might be in the lunchroom or cafeteria when a bully sits down next to your child and begins to harass them. An initial response could either be to completely ignore the bully or to simply get up and move to a different table showing the bully that their actions do not get an intended rise out of their intended target.
2. Talk To The Bully
As long as the bullying has not reached physical proportions suggest that your child try to talk to the bully, without an audience of other children. This could be one on one if the child is comfortable, or with a trusted adult. Sometimes approaching the bully at the very outset of this behavior can help nip it before it gets out of control. Suggest that your child discuss that it is not okay for the bully to talk to them in the manner they have been doing and have your child ask the bully if they might start off on a different note and be civil with one and other.
3. Involve Others
If the bullying behavior is not easily quenched and is continuing to escalate, teach your child to involve others. This could be as simple as for personal safety by suggesting that your child not be alone. Have your child only go to the bathroom, playground, locker or other areas with a trusted friend so that there is not an opportunity for them to be preyed upon when they are weakest or alone. Also if the bullying is happening at school or on a sports team, involve other adults. Have other eyes and ears watching out for your child and watching the interactions of the bully around your child.
4. Protect Your Home
It used to be that our homes were our sacred realm; however, with social media and digital technology, this may no longer be the case. Protect your child’s safe zone by insisting on removing the capacity for a bully to contact your child outside of whatever medium they are accessing your child through. Put blocks on phone contacts, texting and social media. Require your child to provide you with passwords so that you can access social media and other accounts to be sure your child is not being harassed in those mediums as well. If you find evidence of harassment, copy it, document it and hold on to it in case you need to pursue further action at some point you will have supporting documentation.
5. Discuss Physical Self Protection
As parents we typically want our children to avoid physical altercations, but sometimes it is necessary to teach our children what to do in the event that they are forced into a physical encounter. Discuss what your child can physically do to protect him or herself and role play to be sure they are comfortable doing that.
6. Open Communication
This may be the single most important tip you can give your child regarding dealing with bullying. They need to have an open line of communication with you. Discuss times in your life where you may have had to deal with bullying behaviors and teach them how you dealt with those scenarios. Check in with your child daily to see how things are going and watch your child for signs of behavior change, mood changes and overall wellbeing.
Bullying is something that we hope our children do not have to encounter, but in life they most likely will at some point cross paths with a bully. Teaching our children the keys to handling this behavior will go a long way in enabling them to feel confident when a bullying situation arises.