Bullying is the act of willfully causing harm to others through verbal harassment (teasing and name-calling), physical assault (hitting, kicking, and biting), or social exclusion (intentionally rejecting a child from a group). We often think that there are no bullies in junior school. However, that is not correct; research has shown that kids emulate aggressive behavior from their parents, siblings, and from television shows and movies.
Being bullied can have disturbing consequences for a child, leading to poor performance in school, low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression. When kids are bullied they are likely to feel sad most days and would not go to schools or to play. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, harassment has become a serious threat to kids’ health. As a parent you should keep a constant watch on your kid’s behavior so that you can address his concerns and stop him from being harassed.
Identifying that your kid is being bullied
Most kids are teased by their siblings or friends at some point and this is not at all harmful, however, when it is overdone and changes to hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, or mocking then it becomes a matter of concern. Keep a close watch in your child’s behavior, if you see a change then it means that he might have been bullied. You might also notice your kid acting differently or seeming anxious, or not eating, sleeping well, or not doing the things they usually enjoy. When kids seem moodier or more easily upset than usual, or when they start avoiding certain situations (like taking the bus to school), it might be because of a bully.
If you suspect that your child is been bullied and is not talking about it then bring up the issue in a more roundabout way, such as showing a bullying act in a television and ask him – what does he thinks about it? Take them into confidence and make them aware that they should talk about such bullying incidences with you.
Helping your kid and building their confidence
When you know that your kid is bullied, don’t panic and offer them the comfort and support. Remember that they are already stressed and you panicking in front of them will exaggerate their anxiousness and they will recluse. Most times kids don’t share bullying incidents with their parents because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it’s happening, or worry that their parents will be disappointed, upset, angry, or reactive.
At times they feel that it is happening because of their own fault or at times they are scared that they might be further humiliated if their bully gets to know about it.
Build your child’s confidence and praise him for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Assure him that together you will find a solution to his problem.
Talk to the school and legal authorities (if happening in school)
Let someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) know about the situation. They are often in a position to monitor and take steps to prevent further problems. Let the authorities know, if you hear from your child that the bullying will get worse if the bully finds out that your child told or if threats of physical harm are involved.
Most schools have anti-bullying policies, and in addition, many states have anti-bullying laws. Take the matter seriously with the school authorities. If required raise the issue with the bullying child’s parents.
In certain cases, if you have serious concerns about your child’s safety, you may need to contact legal authorities.
Discuss ‘avoid-bully’ strategies with your kid
It is important to advise your kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back as it can turn violent and someone might get injured.
- Avoid – Ask your kid to avoid the bully such as by not going to the same bathroom when the bully is nearby. However, if the bully is deliberately trying to pick up a fight then escalate to the school authorities.
- Not to get angry – It is natural to react angrily when one is being bullied. Ask your kid to not get angry as it might hurt someone if the situation becomes violent. Teach to avoid the bully.
- Buddy-up – Buddying up with another kid will refrain from getting into a bullying situation. Having a buddy will restrain the bully from confronting your kid.
- Be brave – Tell your kid to be brave and stand up (non-violently) against the bully. Ask him to firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, and then walk away.
- Talk about it – Ask your kid to talk about bullying incidents with you, school guidance counselor, teacher, sibling, or friend. Tell him that all of you will be able to help him and will be able to resolve the problem.
Restore his confidence
Constant bullying can impact your child’s confidence. Have positive influence on him by talking about incidents that has happened with you or someone known and how they coped with them. Usually, after a bullying incidence kids go into a recluse, so make sure he joins a club and participate in sports as it will boost his confidence and he will make new friends. Assure him that you are there for him whenever he is bullied.