Teach Your Child How to Stand Up for Herself Against a Bully
How to Help Children
Bully - The child in school or church who likes to find passive, easy-going children to pick on.
What Kind of Kids Are These?
Ah...the Bully. Many of us have had to survive the school day without getting pummeled or called out by the Bully. Many more of us will help our children do the same thing. If you have been blessed with a passive, quiet child who is willing to bend and go with the flow, you are also likely to help her overcome an aggressive child at school who sees those traits as weaknesses.
I remember sending my oldest daughter on the school bus for her first day of kindergarten. She has always been very laid back and has always gotten along well with everyone. She was a little nervous, so I gave her a kiss. I then promised her everyone would be nice and she would have a great first day. Never in a million years did I think that statement would come back to bite me in the butt. My sweetie stepped off the bus that afternoon, looked me square in the eye and pointedly stated, "You told me everyone would be nice...you lied." I couldn't believe my ears! What type of kindergartner would be mean to another child on the first day of school?! I soon found the answer to that question. The type of child that is very aggressive (not always a bad trait). So what did I tell my sweetie? Kill them with kindness. Did that work? Not really.
Almost daily, my daughter would come home and tell me what the other child had said or done to her and it broke my heart. I finally sat her down and explained to her that some people just aren't as friendly as others. She gave me a look like I was stupid and wanted to know how that would help her tomorrow. So I taught her the great power of dealing with bully boys and bully girls. Of course there are two different methods because boys tend to be physically aggressive and girls tend to be psychologically aggressive. Unfortunately, my daughter had a boy on the bus that picked on her and a girl in her class who said mean things to her (not really, but my daughter was sensitive and took the things said to heart). I realized my daughter had to toughen up in two ways. First, don't let that little boy on the bus hit you and second, learn to ignore the things the girl in class says.
The Boy Bully
Boys bullies tend to be more physical and are more likely to push, hit, or pinch your child. If your kid is being picked on by a boy, there are several coping mechanism you can teach her. First, teach your child to avoid the bully. If that is not possible, show your kid ways she can stand up to the physical bully and appear stronger. Give her statements to use such as "You shouldn't hit, it's not nice" or even a firm "Don't touch me or my things!" Of course, that won't work for older children. Older children should find someone to pal around with that will have their back in the case of a confrontation. Bullies tend to single out kids when they are alone and will be less likely to pick on a couple of kids. If things do not get better, have your child tell a teacher or the bus driver discretely. An extra set of adult eyes is always a good way to keep kids in line. Remind your child to never get on the bully's level and resort to violence or name calling.
How to Support Children
The Girl Bully
First determine whether or not the girl bully is meaning to say hurtful things. In my daughter's case, the other child simply spoke her mind and had a bit of snap to her personality. Either way, give your child different ways to deal with the verbal bully. Again, teach your child to avoid the bully if possible. If it is not possible, give your child statements to use to let the bully know that she should not talk that way, such as "The things you say are mean" or "I do not like talking to you because you always hurt my feelings". Maybe the other child does not realize her statements are hurtful. For older girls, bullying usually starts due to gossip or misunderstanding of your child. The above statements do not make sense in the case of older children because the other child is truly meaning to hurt your child. The best solution then is to ignore the statements made. Tell your child not to respond with like statements and not to show emotion. If the bullying gets no reaction, the mean girl may move on to a new target. Also encourage your child to make other friends and to surround herself with a support system that will reassure her of her worth.
Always keep a close eye on your child and her emotional state. Do not let bullying get to the point where your child feels like an outcast and hits a real low. If you realize your child is having difficulty dealing with a bully, step in and take charge. While it is important to teach our children coping skills, it is also our job to protect them. In extreme cases of bullying, some children may require counseling and intervention.