How to help your child deal with bullying

A bully can make regular activities like going to the park or going to school feel like hell for your child. When kids are being bullied it is tough for them to concentrate on anything else. Bullying is unhealthy for kids and it can leave long-term scars.

Bullies seek to create fear and control and they will stop at nothing to make the other party uncomfortable. Gone are the days when bullying was a middle school problem. Now this menace has seeped into the youngest grades.

The first step to helping your child is to know when he/she has become a victim. In this article, we’ll examine what bullying is all about and how parents can help their kids deal with bullying.

What is bullying?

When most people think about bullying, they think about physical assaults like fighting, hitting, punching, pushing, or throwing objects. However, bullying can take many forms asides from the physical.

It can verbal, where threats are issued, and name-calling. It can be cyberbullying, where someone is being harassed over websites, Facebook, text messages, email, and other social media or digital platforms.

Bullying can also be emotional or psychological assaults, which typically involve spreading destructive rumors, making rude gestures, making a person feel bad about themselves, or alienating someone from an activity or conversation.

Whatever the form of bullying, the end goal is to hurt the other party. Bullying is generally considered destructive and unwelcome behavior. It is called abuse, harassment, meanness, or taunts. The bully uses their physical strength, height, or power to frighten, oppress, exclude, or hurt another person.It usually occurs between people within the same age grade. However, bullying is never acceptable.  

Why do kids bully?

Before we look at the different ways you can help your child with bullying, it is important that we examine some of the reasons behind bullying. One of the major reasons why kids bully each other is because they lack attention from their parents or caregiver. Consequently, they lash out and pick on other kids that look vulnerable or smaller.  

Older siblings can also be another reason why a child has become a bully. If a child has been bullied, he/she is more likely to bully the younger sibling to feel stronger and less weak. The role of the parent cannot be ignored as well.

Most children look up to their parents and when there is trouble at home the kids are bound to suffer from it. Parents who often fight and handle conflicts badly, indirectly lay down the standard for their kids to handle their personal challenges. A child’s tole model may not necessarily be the parents, it can their teachers, uncle, coaches, dance instructors, and other adults.

Kids bully because they’ve learned this unwanted behavior at home or from their role models. Sometimes children bully other kids because they want to be accepted into certain ‘crowds’ or because they feel jealous or intimidated by the other kids.

It is essential to understand why kids bully other kids if you are to handle the situation appropriately. Although, some kids are just more domineering, aggressive, and reckless by nature. This doesn’t always mean that they are bullies.

Nevertheless, the good news about bullying is that it is a behavior that can be unlearned.

How parents can help their kids deal with bullying

Below are some of the ways you can help your child deal with bullying even before it starts.

Build your child’s confidence

The first thing a bully attack is the other person’s self-confidence. A bully cannot be successful if he/she cannot hurt or make the other person feel sad. So build your child’s confidence. The more self-confident your child feels the less likely the antics of a bully will affect him.

Encourage your child to partake in outdoor activities that bring out their strength. Help them explore their hobbies and social situations that allow them to thrive as individuals. Reinforce your child’s good behavior by telling them the unique qualities you like about them instead of focusing on the negatives.

You can also issue praises to your kids when they do things worthy of praise. Don’t horde all the praise, give them to your kids. Tell them how proud you are. Be articulate about it. for instance, you can tell them “good job”, “I like how you do…”, “I’m happy with the way you….” Use your words where necessary. You don’t always have to buy presents for your kids to show them how proud you are.

Roleplay possible scenarios

It is important that you teach your child to recognize when he/she is being bullied. Make them understand there is nothing wrong with them for being bullied. Rather, it is the bully that has psychological issues they have to deal with. Role-play bullying scenarios and how best the child should react.

If you have been bullied before, you can share stories with your child and how you were able to overcome being bullied. Remember to demonstrate how your child should speak if he/she gets bullied. Emphasize the importance of using a firm and strong tone of voice. Crying and whining only fuels the bully.

While it is natural to be angry, upset, and cry when one is being bullied, tell your child to hold down their emotions. Bullies thrive on negative emotions. Practice with your child so they can stay off the radar of a bully.

Teach your child how to react

After you’ve shown your child how to recognize a bully, the next thing is to teach your child the right reactions. Teach them to act brave, walk away, or ignore the bully. They can use direct phrases like  “Leave me alone,” or “Back off” to throw off the bully.

There’s no need to be antagonistic, but you have to be direct and emphatic. Your child can say “That was not nice”, or “Yeah, whatever” and walk away from the bully. You need a comeback, not a put-down. You don’t want your child acting as the bully.  

Talk about it

Always ensure your kids are free to talk to you about anything. You should be the first person they talk  to about their challenges, emotions, and excitements. So, keep the line of communication open.

You should always check in with your kids about their day. You can talk to them about your day, so they can share theirs as well. Asking them questions after school can also help. You can ask questions like:

  • Did anybody make you feel sad at school today?
  • Did you learn anything new in school today?
  • Can you tell me about your day?
  • Did you make new friends?
  • What was the most challenging part of your day?

Most schools today have anti-bullying policies. If you have concerns about your child, visit their school or talk to their teachers. You may even have to speak to the parents of the bully when the bullying becomes persistent. Teach your child coping mechanisms and always remind them it is not their fault and that they are not alone.

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