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?
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!
Bullying 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.
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
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.
Have an open conversation about what happened. Ask them how you can help to make them feel safe. 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.
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.