Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological aggressive behaviour by a person or group directed towards a less powerful person or group that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear.
Depending on what survey you read, 1 in 3 teens and 1 in 6 preteens experience bullying in some form. Ongoing bullying is preventable – you can bully-proof your child and keep him/her from becoming a bully.
- Your child needs to grow up in secure loving relationships, rather than relationships that use power or force to control them. Children will model the behavior they see and experience at home. Parents have a huge responsibility in modeling compassionate, respectful, understanding, open relationships from the time their child is very young.
- Stay connected to your child. Lonely kids are more likely to be bullied. Parenting is 90% connection and 10% guidance. The guidance won’t stick unless you have the relationship to support it. No matter how hard it is (and it will be very hard at times) keep the lines of communication open. Whether you and your child find it easier to talk, write, text, it doesn’t matter – just keep communicating in whatever form works for you.
- Show them you won’t be pushed around. Show them that you respect yourself and will stick up for yourself. If your child sees you being pushed around and not sticking up for yourself, what lesson is he learning?
- Teach your child words/phrases to stick up for himself from an early age:
- “You are hurting my feelings, please stop?”
- “I don’t like when you call me that, please call me by my name.”
- “Its not ok to hurt someone.”
- “Hey, stop that, it hurts.”
- Teach your child how to stay safe if someone is annoying her:
- Sit at the front of the school bus
- Stay out of quiet areas at break time
- Go to the toilet with someone else
- Walk home with someone
- Always talk to someone, friend/teacher/parent/older sibling/cousin – anyone – if they cannot talk to someone, write to them, text them – tell someone.
- Explain the meaning of BYSTANDER
A Bystander is anyone who witnesses bullying in any form, in the school yard, in the classroom, on the bus, on social media sites, anywhere and who does nothing about it.
A recent survey found that if someone intervenes correctly, it could cut bullying more than half the time and within 10 seconds.
Sometimes it is very hard for a child to intervene alone, they may want to get a friend to intervene with them it doesn’t matter how many of them intervene, once someone does.
- Teach your child how to respond to a bullying situation (to prepare him in case he is ever bullied)
The bully is always looking for a reaction. The way you respond will determine what happens next.
If he responds in an angry manner, or show any form of emotion this will usually encourage the bully to continue. Encourage your child to try to stay calm, tell the bully:
“You know, I’m just going to ignore that comment”
“I have something else to do right now”
Then walk away.
Tell a friend, parent, or a teacher – and allow the emotions to let go. Its ok to be upset, embarrassed, lonely, afraid – it is vital children understand feelings and understand that it is ok to feel them. (Just not in front of the bully).
- Finally, as parents, it is our job to protect our children.
If you feel your child is being bullied and is not dealing with it – do not hesitate to intervene. Bullying has to be dealt with in whatever way is necessary and if that means you intervening then that is what you will do. An ongoing bullying experience can leave your child scarred for life. I have worked with many young adults, still carrying the scars from bullying since their primary school years. Never underestimate a bully. If you child is becoming withdrawn, does not want to participate in his usual activities, spends too much time in his room, talk to him. Get to the bottom of it and do what you have to do. They will thank you later.
Older kids have said to me:
- I wish I could have talked to them
- I felt I was letting them down
- I was embarrassed
- I was afraid of their reaction
- I didn’t want to get the bully into trouble
- I was afraid it would make the bullying worse
Open communication from an early age is essential.
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”