- Family and Parenting
You can bully-proof your child - here's how
Contrary to what you might want to believe, bullying among children is a severe problem, with long term adverse impacts on both the bully and the bullied child. Studies and surveys have linked bullying to depleting psychological and physical health among children. Extreme and repeated bullying can even drive kids into depression and cause severe self-worth issues. What makes bullying such a tricky problem to handle is that your kid might not report it to you or his teachers until either of you identifies the problem and proactively gets the information out of the child. However, early intervention, practical approach towards resolutions and providing courage & care to your child can help him sail through the little storm. Here’s how you can bully proof your child:
Be a Role Model for Your Child
Children emulate the personalities of their parents and learn from them every day. So, the way you react to challenges and the way you deal with people, will have a major impact in helping them formulate and elicit behaviors when they are in faced with a bully.
If you tend to shout on your subordinates on phone, or are rude with the counter clerks at the departmental store, your kids will believe that it’s fine for a person in a superior position to be harsh on another person. So, be sweet yet stern in your social dealings; use phrases like ‘sorry’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and be the perfect role model for your kids.
Boys' reaction to bullying will melt your heart
Emulate Situations of Bullying and Let Your Kid Respond
Invariably, bullying kids target kids that don’t resist the attempts of bullying. In more than half the cases, a stern response from your kid will simply eliminate the next attempt of bullying. To equip your child with the confidence to deal with a bully, showcase to your child how a bitter situation can be managed. ‘Stop loitering around my house, else I’m going to have to call the policeman’, ‘maybe you didn’t notice, but you’re stepping on my shows, please stand apart’ – stern yet mature statements such as these will explain the invaluable lesson of courage and confidence to your kids.
It’s more important to ask your kid to say out the response than actually doing an if-then analysis to handle different bullying situations. So, emulate the situation of bullying at home and insist your child to sternly say something to resist the attempts. Check if the kid sounds confident and also ensure that the response is not unnecessarily violent. Some good phrases you might want to make your child practice are – ‘back off’, ‘don’t do it’, ‘you’re hurting me, stop it’, ‘fine, I’ll make sure your father knows of this’.
Empower Your Child to Solve the Problem on His Own
Unless the bullying has become serious and recurring, you don’t want your child to hide behind you in the face of adversity. A good approach in cases of moderate bullying is to motivate your child to face the bully with his friends. Also, if your child tells you how one of his pals is being bullied by the burly boy of his class, you’ll do well to ask little sonnie to step up for his friend. Walter Roberts, an authority in counselor education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, remarks how kids can be ten times as effective as an adult merely by speaking up against bullying.
Know When the Limit Is Crossed and Take Strong Action
There are cases when the bullying becomes severely harmful for the psychological and physical wellbeing of your child, even before you get to know of it for the first time. Quick action is important here; report the incidents of bullying to the teachers and the headmaster of the school. Do not wait and bring the issue to the notice of the school administrators. Almost all educational institutes have their policies in place to prevent and punish bullying, but the implementation is generally lacking. So, be on your heels, prepare a written record of every incident of bullying and insist on follow up action from the school authorities. You don’t want to be in a situation where your child refuses to go to school because of fear of the bully. So, be stern in your demand for action against the bully. If the school authorities fail to respond, here are some courses of action:
- You can inform the issue to a police officer and request him to visit the school to talk to the authorities
- Tell the school authorities that you will not shirk from writing a letter with all details to the directors of the school, the local daily’s editor and if needed, to the state’s education minister
Talk to the parents of the bully kid and show them the written records of incidents of bullying and the prescription bills of your visit to child counselors
Have You Been Bullied as a Kid?
What if your kid is the bully?
We’ll devote the last section of this guide to help parents deal with kids who are the bullies and not the ones being bullied. Introspect; could your behavior at home be possibly motivating your kid to behave in a bullying manner? If that’s not likely, ensure that you get to know the friend circle of your kid, because his peers could be the cause of him behaving in a certain manner. Talk to your child, understand the fabric of his life and work out the reasons that are making him behave in unacceptable manners.
Next, educate your child on the harms of bullying; tell him how his actions can ruin the day, year, and even the life of another child. Tell him about the legal consequences of bullying. Make sure that the child is not exposed to immoral digital content, which could be wracking havoc with his ability to think sanely. Enforce discipline and there’s no harm in levying moderate punishment on the child if he doesn’t stop his acts of bullying.