October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Bullying is a significant problem. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics about 25% of youth report they have been victims to bullying.
Bullying lies everywhere. Learn the warning signs and how to protect your child.
Identify Different Types of Bullying
Bullying can occur in lots of different forms.
- Physical Bullying – This is the most obvious form of bully whereby a victim is kicked, punched, hit, spat on, or pushed around.
- Verbal Bullying – This includes cruel teasing, name calling, derogatory remarks and being made fun of in a hurtful, negative way.
- Emotional Bullying – This includes spreading rumours or lies and playing mind games that make the victim feel excluded and ostracized.
- Exclusion – This includes being intentionally left out or not allowed to join a group.
Know the Warning Signs of Bullying
Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied may include:
- Appears sad or depressed when they come home.
- Has lost interest in school work.
- Seems afraid to go to school.
- Complains of frequent headaches or stomachaches.
- Has few, if any, friends they spend time with.
Please understand that if your child is experiencing these signs, it does not necessarily mean they are being bullied. It is good to communicate with your child to find out if bullying is causing the above problems.
Communicate With Your Child
This is a very important step, because without open communication you may not know your child is experiencing bullying. Most children who are bullied do not tell an adult. If you focus of supportive communication, your child may feel more comfortable talking to you.
You may need to directly ask your child about bullying. Some examples:
- What are some good and bad things that happened at school today?
- What was it like to ride the bus?
- Have your feeling ever been hurt by other kids at school?
Monitor Your Child’s Screen Use
It’s 2021, and bullying has gone electric. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and so many more apps can be terrifying weapons for young children wanting to bully someone. When we were young the bully hid somewhere on the playground. Now they hide behind accounts on social media.
It’s okay, as a parent, to have access to your child’s passwords and know what apps they are using. Set boundaries and limits with screen use. Restrict how much screen time they have and limit where they can use their tablets or phones.
Respond Appropriately to Bullying
As awareness about bullying has increased, the recommendations for how to handle it have also changed. Parents may discover that suggestions we were given for dealing with bullies as children have been proven ineffective and can even cause more harm.
Telling a child to stand up to the bully (or fight back) implies that it’s the child’s responsibility to handle the problem alone and can lead other parents and adults to see your child as part of the problem. Advising your child that is being bullied to ignore the bully is unhelpful and likely something they’ve already tried. Along with that, trying to fix the problem by confronting the bully directly or contacting the bully’s parents usually doesn’t help either.
It is best to listen and be supportive if your child is a victim to bullying. Then help to develop strategies to deal with the bullying. It is important to:
- Document the behaviors your child is experiencing.
- Provide emotional support.
- If the bullying is happening at school, contact the school.
- Help your child learn how to respond the to bullying.
- Work to build your child’s resiliency, confidence, and self esteem.
- Get your child any additional help or support, such as counseling.
Bullying is not an activity confined solely to the teenage years. During my working career, I have encountered several coworkers who were bullies. While they never laid a finger on me, they have said and done things which I know interpret as bullying.
Since I never faced bullying head-on in my youth, I don’t know how to cope with bullying as an adult. I don’t want to do that to my children. I want to equip them with the skills to be aware of bullying in all its forms so that they won’t be traumatized as adults.
This will be one of the most important parts of parenting that we will undertake.