Did you know…
Sooner or later your child will be challenged, socially, emotionally or physically. It is critical that parents do all they can to sustain a good relationship and open communication with their children. Children frequently do not tell their parents or another adult they are being bullied. They fear retaliation, embarrassment or fear of being blamed. Often they believe an adult will not take their problem seriously or will handle it inappropriately. It is imperative parents and educators ensure children feel safe in school in order for them to perform to the best of their ability and achieve academically.
Definition of bullying: Bullying a pattern of negative acts of aggression towards another individual. It can take many forms. There is an imbalance of power where the victim/target cannot defend himself. For information on cyberbullying Click here
If Your Child is Bullied
If your child comes to you and tells you he or she is being bullied don’t over react or panic. Try not to let your emotions cloud your good judgment and never encourage retaliation. The word bullying is sometimes misused. The situation may or may not be bullying. Tell them you’re proud that they came to you. Sometimes children don’t want to tell their parents because they’ll make too big a deal over it and matters will get worse The most important thing is to resolve the situation. Gather as much information as possible. Find out what is happening. Ask who was present when the incident happened. How often is this happening? Did this happen once, twice or every day? Where, recess, the hallways? Keep a log- write it down. Report it. Finally, always ask your child if any part of the bullying is happening online or through texting. Research shows that the older kids are the more common that is.
Work With the School
Get all your facts and set up a meeting. Approach your child’s school calmly, with as many facts as possible. Try going in person it is more effective then email or a phone call. Listen to what the educator or administrator tells you. They might not have all the same facts that you have. Administrators usually can’t make a bullying situation vanish overnight– but they can immediately work to help your child feel more supported and safer. Don’t assume you know everything about what’s going on, and never assume your child is telling you the 100% entire truth. It is normal for children to tell small lies to their parents if they will avoid getting in trouble. Don’t over-focus on whether or not the situation is truly “bullying.” Focus instead on how to resolve the situation and that your child feels safe.
Develop a Plan
Meet with your school’s administrator and your child’s teachers to construct a plan to improve your child’s sense of safety in school. Consider asking, can we reduce the contact between my child and the student that is bullying as much as possible? Can we increase the contact between my child and the children he or she likes and enjoys being with? Can we increase adult supervision? What about unstructured settings — for example, you don’t want your child to have to walk into a cafeteria and be faced with having to find a safe place to eat. A table with friends, or at least friendly children, should be prearranged and ready and waiting, with an adult who has an eye on it.
A big part of the plan should be a safe person whom your child can see until he or she feels better about school. Ask your child whom he or she particularly likes. Is it the principal? Or a guidance counselor? Or maybe the school nurse? Arrange to have that individual tell your child, in person, that he or she may visit anytime, with no restrictions.
This is where good plans often fall apart. Set a date and time to follow up. If the plan is working continue and set another time to follow up a little further out. If it’s not working make adjustments.
Remember ... parents play a crucial role in teaching their children about bullying and harassment. Children will always have to cope with conflict in their lives. If you prepare your child better able to cope with conflict and bullying they’ll be much less affected by it. Play up their strengths. Make sure your child has lots of chances to interact with friends they like. Praise and reward them and make sure you have some fun family time – it’s in those relationships that they’ll find their strengths!
If Your Child Is Displaying Bullying Behavior
No parent wants to hear that their child is bullying other children. It can strike fear into the hearts of parents. It’s important to remember that bullying and cyberbullying don’t always indicate an extremely serious problem. Children make mistakes, and making social errors is how they learn. Your job is to make sure that they DO learn from this episode. Kids that display bullying behavior need to learn how destructive and self-destructive their behaviors are. Children who bully suffer as much as those they target. They are more likely than others to lead lives marked by school failure, depression, violence, crime, and other problems. Bullying is too important to ignore. When a parent realizes their child is bullying others, it is important to acknowledge the problem and make sure it is stopped. Children who bully are unlikely to stop on their own, and adult intervention is needed. Don’t just punish; try to teach. If your child admits to treating another child rudely or cruelly, don’t ask them WHY they picked on that child. The main message needs to be that there is NEVER a good reason to be socially cruel to someone else – period. Try to uncover the root cause of the bullying. Most likely it means that their struggling to get something they want— popularity, acknowledgment, attention or control. They may be reacting to being bullied themselves at school or at home by a sibling or even a parent. It is also important to consider physiological conditions or a learning disability. If your child’s behavior or psychological state concerns you make sure to discuss it with your pediatrician. Children often bully others who they perceive as "different" from themselves. As a parent of a child who is bullying others, you need to look at the way you talk about others. Do you present racist, homophobic, or other negative opinions that can breed hate to your children? If you do participate in these actions, it is important to become educated on differences and different cultures and prevent sharing untruthful information. Spreading hate and mistrust onto your children can encourage them to further spread hateful views. If the belief of acceptance of differences is taught at home then you need to look at your child's friends and what beliefs are being shared. Children are heavily influenced by their friends. Creating an open, accepting atmosphere at home and rectifying incorrect or hateful information can prevent a child from bullying others based on perceived differences. Ultimately, it’s your values that your children will emulate. Brainstorm to develop a plan to remediate the behavior and include your child in developing the plan. Increase supervision of your child and monitor your child’s progress. Be sure to reward positive behavior and your child’s efforts to change behavior.