As a mother of 5 kids, different types of issues have come up with each one of them over the years. I am sharing bullying facts with you today because the one that I had not encountered until recently is bullying. My 6-year old son came home from school a few weeks before the school year ended and informed his dad and me that he was being picked on at the playground after lunch. Since I’d never encountered this situation before, I decided to do a little research on it so I would know how to handle it. Hopefully, what I found out can be of help to other parents dealing with bullying.
5 Bullying Facts & Tips for Parents of a Bullied Child
1. Be a good listener. Listen without judgment. Ask questions such as, “What can I do to be helpful?” or “What happened? How did that make you feel?” Being picked on or teased isn’t always logical, and for your child it doesn’t matter why it’s happening – it just matters that it’s happening. Getting overly upset or angry isn’t going to help the situation. Keep the conversation open even if your child is reluctant to tell you everything right away. They will eventually open up. Make sure to let your child know that he or she did nothing wrong, and you will handle the bullying together
2. Don’t retaliate against the bully or his or her family. Even though it is difficult to hear that your child is being hurt, retaliation won’t help the situation or stop the problem. One of the most important bullying facts to learn as a parent is that sometimes your involvement on a close level with the bully only makes matters worse. You have to set an example for your child on how to solve problems. Instead, take a deep breath and think about what you can do to help your child handle what he or she is facing.
3. Find a teacher or administrator at your child’s school who will help. All school’s are required to have an anti-bullying policy. Many also offer different forms of peer support where certain children are trained in active listening or mediation skills to help bullied children. In secondary schools, they may be called peer mentors, supporters, counselors, listeners or mediators while in primary schools, they might be called friendship or playground buddies, playtime pals or peacemakers. Lyndall Horton-James, Bullying Prevention and Education Consultant, offers the following tips:
- Before you approach the school, list all the facts: what happened, who was involved, when it occurred, who witnessed it, anything your child did that may have provoked the incident, whether it was a one-off or series of events.
- Don’t arrive at the school unexpectedly: Make an appointment with the class teacher or head of year.
- Aim to work together with the school and make it clear that you are seeking the school’s help in finding a solution.
- Avoid accusing the school: Remember that teachers are usually the last to find out that bullying is happening at school. The sequence is “friends first, then parents, lastly schools”.
- Be patient: Allow the school time to deal with the problem but stay in touch with them and arrange a follow-up meeting to see how the situation is being resolved.
4. Take your child’s side. Reaffirm that there are things he or she can do to handle the situation. Let your child know that you are going to get them help and that you love them and are going to support them. Make sure to let your child know that you’re on his or her side; he or she needs to understand that you don’t blame them and that you will support them. While one of the bullying facts and tips mentioned before was to not retaliate, that doesn’t mean you cannot be an active part in approaching teachers, community mentors or the other parent for reconciliation.
5. Teach your child to name what is happening. For younger kids, it’s important to be able to name what’s happening as “bullying.” For a child who’s feeling picked on, it’s empowering to be able to really name it. They’re teaching a lot about bullying prevention in school these days and “bully” is such a negative word that it’s good for your child to be able to attach it to the behavior. This is truly empowering for many children and can work with older kids, as well.
Signs that your child is being bullied:
- Not going to the bathroom at school. A lot of bullies attack in the bathroom, away from cameras and adults. Avoiding unsupervised activities and areas.
- Getting upset after a phone call, text or email.
- Losing friends they previously had.
- Being more isolated and skipping activities that they used to enjoy. Spending more time alone in their rooms.
- Making negative statements about themselves and engaging in negative self talk.
- Do not overreact. Listen calmly. Screaming and crying may hinder future communication.
- Take your child seriously. Do not laugh off the situation or accuse your child of exaggerating, or again, they may shut down completely.
Bullying is a hard thing to go through. It’s good to know a few bullying facts and that there are things that can be done to help stop the bullying and that bullying is now becoming a topic that is more talked about. You’re not alone if you’re dealing with bullying. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others in your community, counselors, pastors or even books for more help in regards to bullying.
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