By Brittnie Stoy.
Is your child suddenly sullen, withdrawn, or seeming to avoid contact with you?
Have you observed marked changes in his behaviors and personality?
Is she afraid to ride the school bus or reluctant to go to school?
These are just a few of the possible warning signs that your child is being bullied. (Bullying is defined as any unwanted, aggressive behavior that is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.)
Repeated bullying may cause significant emotional harm and can erode a child’s self-worth and mental health. Whether bullying is verbal, physical or relational, the long-term effects can be equally harmful.
If your child is being bullied in school, here are a few actions you can take.
1. Talk with your child.
Encourage your child to be open about what happened, and to report the incident. Find out pertinent and detailed information about what the bullies are doing: dates, times, places, actions, etc. Write down what your child says to you. Discuss safe strategies they can use to resolve the situation. And encourage your child to:
- Talk to the bullying child. In a calm, clear voice, tell them to “stop”
or “leave me alone.”
- Stay away from the bullying child or places where bullying occurs.
- Tell an adult when talking does not feel safe.
2. Contact the teacher; school counselor, social worker, or psychologist; school principal; or school superintendent.
Since bullying tends to occur away from adult eyes, a consistent and co-operative approach by both the home and school is important. When you meet with the school, tell your child’s story and ask for help. Many schools have a specific protocol for intervening, so be sure to obtain a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy. If your school doesn’t have an anti-bullying policy, ask them to develop one and perhaps volunteer to be part of that process. Invite other parents to help.
3. Model and teach positive social behavior.
- Model the polite use of language
- Encourage empathic thinking with questions such as, “Why do you think your friend is upset today?” or “I wonder how he felt when you did that?”
- Promote your child’s confidence and development of new skills by engaging them in problem solving.
- Give explicit guidance and reflect an ethic of caring and nurturing.
- Notice your child’s positive behavior and any progress and effort they display and use enthusiastic positive words to celebrate those to build confidence
Children are perceptive to both sides of every relationship. For example, if your discipline methods use power over your child, they will learn to use power over others, or to let others use power over them. Engage your child in the problem solving process and remain open and curious about their perceptions and ideas about how to address this challenge.
4. And finally, get support for yourself.
Talk with other parents who are positive and helpful. Discuss it with family members, faith leaders and anyone who you believe will offer balanced and insightful support. This can be as disturbing to parents as it is to children and your kids need you to feel confident, calm and positive as you find solutions together.
Consider joining a live, online class or watching an online class recording about Emotional Intelligence or Understanding Feelings. Teaching and modeling emotional intelligence skills builds kids’ confidence, social skills, and problem solving abilities.