By Tracey L. Peek, BSHA, MS/P, PMC, LM
Parents can think back to their childhood and what it was like to be bullied, if they were ever bullied or if they were the bully. They know bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Bullies intentionally torment in physical, verbal, or psychological ways that can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking other kids to extorting money and possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them, using social media platforms or electronic messaging to taunt others or hurt their feelings. Bullying also takes place on the school bus and the playground.
Either way, it hurts, but it can be corrected. Parents can have open conversations and relationships with their children. Have those daily conversations about their school life and activities during and after school, as well as about the bus ride if the child is using school transportation. As parents, it’s our job to protect and nurture our children with values of how to treat humankind with respect and love. Parents can help children with these simple values on how to deal with a bully and their antics:
Build self-confidence in your child/children. Let them know they are smart and awesome. Express ways of engaging their thought process so they can problem-solve in difficult situations.
Teach them the importance of exemplifying kindness. Show kindness, no matter what the situation is. Encourage your child/children to go high when others go low. In other words, speak words of kindness when others don’t.
Be a leader and not a follower. Teach your children to become the leaders they are designed to be. Build that leadership role in them at an early age, so they can relate to what it takes to be a leader. (Playing “follow the leader” is not an option).
Focus on your child/children’s strengths. Help them to find what they are good at, and use it as a tool to build their passion. If your child is good at drawing or with their hands, find ways to help them increase their potential in that area.
Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Parents should take the time to listen and investigate when you see changing patterns in your child’s behavior. Changes could include feeling despondent or hopeless, blank stares, loss of appetite, loss of interest, low self esteem, difficulty sleeping or having nightmares. The most severe changes and actions could include harming themselves or talking about suicide. It is important that parents have daily conversations about their child’s day. Asking questions in a loving way allows your child’s defenses to lower and have a meaningful conversation. It’s important for parents to take bullying seriously when a child says they are being bullied.
Parents, if you believe your child is being bullied or if your child says they are being bullied, please report it to the school, the principal, and the parents of the bully. If this does not resolve the issue, contact your local police department. For example, I had a situation with my son and a bully in his elementary school, which I reported to the school and the bully’s parents. My son was losing sleep and started to experience anxiety. The bully issue wasn’t improving, so I went to the local police department and filed a report. After I filed the report, the bully was counseled and suspended from school after bullying another child. As parents, we must advocate for our children when they are experiencing the impacts of a bully. Advocate for your child’s rights not to be bullied.