Helping Children Deal With Bullies

As a parent, there is not much you can do to stop your child from experiencing bullying, but you play a major role in how they deal with a bully. Bullying can happen at any age and can affect many aspects of life, causing anxiety, depressions, suicidal thoughts and can negatively affect schooling. With 47% of Canadian parents reporting their child being a victim of bullying, what can we do to prevent bullying or ease the situation?

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Identify the Signs

Sometimes children will try to hide that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed and are unsure what to do. There are some tell-tale signs that your child may be a victim of bullying. Signs to watch out for; missing belongings/ torn clothes,
troubles sleeping, avoiding school, grades slipping, anxiety, stomachaches, headaches, and mood swings. 

If you believe your child is experiencing bullying, try and have an open conversation about it. Ask them how they are feeling and if something is bugging them. Let them know your there to help and listen. They may not want your help, but they do need your support. If your child is experiencing extreme anxiety or depression from bullying and will not talk to you, seek an older mentor (family friend) or a counsellor that may be able to help them sort through what’s happening.

Why do people Bully?

There are a million reasons why people choose to bully. Usually, the bully is trying to fill a void where they need to feel superior in some sort of way. They often pick a victim they think is emotionally or physically weaker than them, or is different from the social norm and an easy target. Often children that bully are reflecting the way have been treated at home or school. 

We all have a role to play!

O6EWSI0.jpgBullying prevention starts at home, but teachers, principles and organizations have a role to play too. If you notice your child acting out towards others or teachers are calling you about your child’s behaviour, there are steps you can take to prevent your child from being a bully.

Make sure your child understands that what they do and say can impact others in a negatively and that their recent behaviour is a problem.

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Let your child know that bullying is very serious and will not be tolerated. When talking to your child about bullying use a calm tone and be an example of respectful behaviour. 

Talk to your child and see how their feeling. Try to find out why they may have been bullying in the first place. Were they trying to fit in at school? Are they picking up on emotions from home? Are they experiencing divorce? Do their siblings pick on them? 


 

There are 7 skills bullies need in order to change

 Responsibility-Being able to take responsibility for their actions.

Empathy-Understand how the other person may feel in that situation

Anger Management-Reduce episode of lashing out in a negative way

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Impulse Control-Stop and think about what they are about to do or say

Self-esteem– Finding happiness within themselves

Inclusive-Being able to realize popularity isn’t everything

Respect -Realize everyone deserves to be respected

This article from very well family goes more in-depth about these skills and how to achieve them.

 


 

How can I support a child dealing with bullying?

Both the bully and victim need support after an episode of bullying.

Victim

Have an open conversation about what happened. Ask them how you can help to make them feel safe.Sad pupil sitting alone on ground at corridor Remind them that it is not their fault and that people often bully because they are unhappy with themselves.

Get them involved in activities to boost their self-esteem. Sports, music or crafting activities will help them find a place they feel comfortable making friends and improving self-worth. Let them know they have people they can talk to, and they are not going through this alone.

Never! Tell the child to ignore the bullying. Blame the child for being bullied. Encourage fighting back. Always tell your child to seek a teacher or friend while being physically bullied. Fighting back could hurt the child and result in punishment for them. Contact the other parents involved, this is the teacher’s job and could create future problems.

Bully

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Talk it out! Where this is aggression coming from? Get them involved in activities to boost their self-esteem and socialize. People that are happy do not hurt others. Involve them in repairing the situation, have them write an apology. They will think more about their actions if they have to write it down.

If they broke or stole something, have them physically help fix what they broke or return what they took

Never! Blame the child or call them names. The child is clearly struggling with their own inner issues and that will only bring more negativity to the situation


 

W5Go has produced a song for children about the importance of thinking before you act. We believe that by pausing and thinking about what you do or what you say can greatly change the outcome of a situation. 

What you say and do could hurt others feelings, which is why you should always pause and ask yourself “And then what?”. What might happen if I say this? How will they respond? How will they feel? For more about our views on thinking before you act check out this article “And then what?” By W5Go founder Carl KS Teo. 

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Helping Children Cope with Stress

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s physical, emotional and chemical reaction to a situation that requires changing or adapting.  Stress is a normal part of life and is necessary for survival. A certain amount of stress is healthy as it helps motivate us to adapt and improve, but too much stress can be toxic to our mental health and bodies.

Over the past few decades, childhood stress in Canada has increased by over 45%. How can that be? It may be easy to overlook what a child could be stressed about. They do not have bills to pay, mouths to feed or a job to stress over. What could be the problem? Well, there are many sources of stress in a child’s life. They can come from external or internal sources.

External sources of stress are factors that come from social interactions. It could be family issues, bullies, homework, social media, and even over-packed schedules.

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Internal stressors come from within, the pressure to achieve personal goals, and setting unrealistic expectations.

Is my child stressed?

It can be hard to identify if your child is stressed out. Many signs of being stressed can be interpreted as an illness or phase they are going through. To figure out if your child is stressed you need to be aware, talk and listen to your child.

Watch for changes in behaviour. Mood swings, clinginess or a short temper. Stress can make you very irritable and sometimes this is how they express themselves.

Stomach aches and headaches. When someone is stressed it can turn into being physically stressed. Stomach aches and headaches are common signs as well as rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating, chest pain and fatigue.

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 Develop nervous habits. Pulling hair, biting their thumbs, picking their noses, issues eating, and bedwetting are all common nervous habits children develop when stressed.

Sleeping problems. Even adults experience this when you try to sleep but your mind runs away.

There are three types of stress responses in children

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Positive stress response: is a normal and essential part of healthy development, characterized by brief increases in heart rate and mild elevations in hormone levels. Some situations that might trigger a positive stress response are the first day with a new caregiver or receiving an injected immunization.

Tolerable stress response: activates the body’s alert systems to a greater degree as a result of more severe, longer-lasting difficulties, such as the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a frightening injury. If the activation is time-limited and buffered by relationships with adults who help the child adapt, the brain and other organs recover from what might otherwise be damaging effects.

Toxic stress response: can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support. This kind of prolonged activation of the stress response systems can disrupt the development of brain architecture and other organ systems and increase the risk for stress-related disease and cognitive impairment, well into the adult years. ( Center of the Developing Child Harvard University)

Six ways to help your child with stress

Learning to cope with stress is a skill everyone should adopt, it applies to everyone from all walks of life. Teaching children ways to cope with stress is a skill they will use their whole life. Here are six ways to help your child learn to cope and respond to stress.

Talk to your child

Let your child know stress is normal, it is a part of life and that all things will pass. What they are stressed about now may not be a big deal in the future. Ask them how things are going and try to have an open conversation about how they are feeling.

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Cut back on the schedule

Leave room in your schedule to relax and do nothing. There is no need to have after school activities every day.  Having free time to be bored allows your child to use their imagination, learn about themselves and most importantly relax and be a child.

Make sleep a priority 

Getting a good nights sleep has many benefits such as minimizing stress, boosting mood to improving school performance. The body needs a good nights rest to repair itself. Sleep promotes healthy brain function, emotional well being and physical health.

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Go for a walk. 

Fresh air and exercise help to clear your head, induce creativity and helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Walking yields so many more benefits too! Such as lowering your risk of cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Limit screen time

Due to the large role social media plays in our lives, children now are facings new stressors and issues. There has never before been a time where our lives are so publicly online, many children reaching school age now have many of their baby photographs online, how embarrassing. They are going through a time of change, growing up trying to find themselves all while being on a public stage. That can be very stressful!

Plan ahead

A good way to avoid stress is by planning ahead, setting SMART goals and achieving them.

Specific – What do you want to achieve?

Measurable- Can you track your progress?

Attainable- Is it realistic?

Relevant- Is it important to you?

Time- When do you want this to be completed?

Setting goals and accomplishing them gives a child a sense of pride and boost there self-esteem. Children and adults often feel stressed out and discouraged by unattainable goals they’ve set for themselves. Setting SMART goals can help you set realistic, measurable goals to achieve. Learn more about SMART goals.

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Stress reducing activities for the whole family 

Game night

Painting & Colouring

Puzzling

Music (Listen to/ Make)

Cooking/ Baking

Walks/ Geocaching

Yoga Meditation

Video Game nights

Camping or Cottage

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If you feel you or someone you know needs help do not hesitate to reach out to someone. Everyone goes through some sort of stress in their lives, sometimes just talking to someone will help clear your mind.

Here is a great list of international help phone numbers

Together We Are Strong Helpline