Bullying is one of the most difficult experiences children can face at their school or in social gatherings. It is more than difficult for parents and caregivers to assess how serious the bullying situation is and how that may affect their child. Yet we hear of so many bullying stories that create fear and insecurity in our children.
In a recent article by psychologist Jamie Howard on the Child Mind Institute website this very prominent and difficult subject is addressed. I think the full article is very helpful to guide parents in how to assess the situation and makes suggestions as to what to do about it. Here is the quick read of this article:
Kids can be really mean to each other. Even best friends are mean to each other sometimes. When a kid is teased or left out or someone is mean to them, it doesn’t always mean they’re being bullied.
So how do you know if your kid is being bullied? Bullies target kids who are smaller or younger or less popular. They hurt other kids physically or emotionally on purpose. They do it over and over and sometimes they get other kids to join in the bullying. Bullying can make kids feel anxious and depressed. It needs to be taken seriously.
If your kid tells you they’re being bullied, it’s important to let your child know you’ll help solve the problem. First, get the facts. Try acting like a reporter. You can ask questions like, “Were lots of kids around when they said that to you?” “Are they a really popular kid?” “What were the other kids doing?” This will give you a better idea of what happened. And if it happens two or three times you might need to get involved. This could mean contacting a teacher or the school principal. But try to get your kid’s permission before you do that. If they’re really against it, you can hold off but let them know it’s an option if things get worse.
Talking about bullying before it happens can prepare your child. You can practice having your child say things like, “Hey, don’t talk to me that way,” and other things that make them feel like they have some power. You can suggest that your child talk to their friends and ask them how they’ve handled bullies. Friends can also agree to stand up for each other. Bullies hate that!
All parents can use these helpful suggestions when they believe their child has been bullied and struggle to know what to do. The guidance we give our children can make a huge difference as to whether they are victimized or empowered and better able to help prevent bullying that might happen to them or their friends.