Keith is a ten year-old student who has always liked school. That was until recently and now he does not want to go to school each morning. This of course is very frustrating for his parents. The reason Keith dislikes school does not have anything to do with academics. Keith is being bullied before school, at school, and on the school bus. Who can blame him for not wanting to go into an environment where he does not feel safe?
The basic definition of bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person. Bullying involves crossing into one’s space without permission. Come on, isn’t bullying just something that happens to all children and we’re just making a big fuss over this? The children will get over it, right? Shouldn¹t we tell Keith to grow up and handle it? Wrong. It is not ‘boys will be boys’ anymore. Looking at the life long results to victims of bullying, adults shouldn’t be ignoring it any longer.
Tips for parents:
1. Encourage your child to report any bullying incidents to you. This of course means they feel comfortable coming to you and you’ll respond in a loving and trusting manner.
2. Validate your child’s feelings. It is normal for your child to feel hurt, sad, and angry.
3. Ask your child if and how they have tried to stop the bullying. Asking questions is a wonderful way to have your child do the thinking. See how many options he can come up with.
4. The absolute best way to solve a bullying situation is to empower your child to solve it himself/herself, if possible.
Here are a few more suggestions for parents to consider discussing with their child:
- Avoidance is often an excellent strategy.
- Play in a different place way from those bothering you.
- Stay near a supervisor on the playground, lunchroom, or locker room.
- Look to make new friends.
- Join social and sport activities outside of school.
- Have your child take self-defense classes.
- Let your child know it is okay to express their anger. There are positive and negative ways to express anger, we want to teach and model the positive ways.
- Stress the importance of body language.
- Teach your child and model using ‘I’ statements.
- Teach how your child can use humor. ‘Out-crazy’ them.
- Talk with your child’s teacher. Make sure they are aware of what is going on with your child.
- Approach the school with the intent of working together; do not attack the school’s staff.
- Volunteer to help supervise activities at school.
- Do not ignore your child’s reports. Ignoring them sends the wrong message.
- Do not confront the bully or the bullies’ family.
- Teach self-respect.
- Give numerous positive comments to your child avoid labeling or name-calling.
As the parents, adults, and school staff we need to stand up for what is right. We must take our head out of the sand and stand up for the children. Silence only benefit’s the bully.