No parent likes to think about the possibility of their child being bullied, but the reality is that it is extremely common, with an incredible 160,000 children a day avoiding school due to the fear of bullying and 33% of children reporting experiences of school bullying. These are incredibly sad statistics. These kids exist in a constant state of fear of physical, verbal and emotional abuse.
Not only that, but as well as bullying victims, the act always involves a perpetrator and usually witnesses, so it’s very probable that you will have to face the issue in some capacity at some point.
How Does Bullying Impact a Child?
Children that do manage to attend class often experience high levels of anxiety and depression. Over a long period of time, this heightened level of stress can have lasting effects that can be detrimental to a child’s development and outlook on life. If left to fester and continue, bullying can impact them for the remainder of their lives.
Chronic experiences of bullying can have a catastrophic impact on a child’s self-worth and ability to trust others. They can also have great difficulties bonding with others and creating positive relationships and sadly are at a greater risk of substance abuse.
In light of these facts, it’s clear that as parents, carers, and educators we need to take a proactive approach to prevent bullying from ever occurring. It’s not always straightforward to identify a bully, so it’s helpful to be knowledgeable of other less clear signs.
How to Identify Bullying
The best thing you can do to help is to teach your own child how to identify bullying. Explain to them how they can identify it when they witness it and not be scared to name it. Educate them that when another individual invokes feelings of shame, guilt or makes them scared that they need to go away from that person and realize that the individual is a bully. Encourage them to tell you if they ever feel like themselves or anyone else is being isolated from the group.
Explain to them that there is nothing wrong with them and that if they are ever being bullied; the bully is the one with the issues. Typically, if a child is a bully, there is something adrift in that child’s life. Frequently, this can be due to being a former victim of bullying themselves, or maybe they come from a dysfunctional household. Often they are quite envious of their victims and are seeking validation from peers. Sometimes they may have issues dealing with their own feelings and therefore, their actions. Character traits in children are often has a huge part to play in behavior and development.
Emphasise to your child how much you love them and care for them. Highlight how much influence they have over their lives and how tough they are.
Encourage them to communicate with you by communicating with them.
Zero Tolerance for Bullying
If you discover your child is being bullied, reassure them that you will handle it and then proceed. Have a talk with your child’s teacher and if you can the bullies parents. Every adult that has a role to play should be made alert to the issue and you should all aim to cooperate in order to resolve the problem. If the conversation doesn’t seem to resolve the issue and the bullying continues, you will need to go up the ranks and make an appointment to see the principal.
In the meantime, you can instruct your child with sensible ways to deal with the bullying. Firstly, tell them to avoid the person as much as they can and not to antagonize the assailant in any way. You will then have to be prepared to go to battle for them and don’t give up until the issue is fully resolved. Letting the bully win will only lead to more suffering for your child and when they see you making a stand for them, they will find the courage to stand up for themselves too.
How to Overcome Bullying
It’s not possible to be with your child 24 hours a day, therefore, it’s essential you teach them how to overcome bullying and beat it, even when the bully is right in front of them.
A great approach is to make your child feel courageous and strong in the face of bullies and that can easily be achieved through a role-playing game. If they know exactly how to deal with the situation before it occurs, they will be ready to deal with bullying when and wherever it happens.
Provide a range of situations where bullying could occur, including the bus, walking home and so on, via the art of role-playing games. As the parent, you act the role of bully and instruct your child how to react in a positive way. This can really help them verbalize and communicate better when the times comes. If your child is a little passive and shy, then don’t worry, what’s essential is that they feel cared for and supported.
Instruct them to say confidently and clearly, “No, Stop it.” Or perhaps “I am going to tell the teacher”, emphasize that this is never wrong if people feel scared. Highlight that their opinion matters, bullying is always wrong and adults will always put a stop to it.
Everyone Involved can Help
If you have ended up here and think your child may actually be the bully, that doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent. In effect, since you have come to that conclusion means you can be a big player in fixing it. You have the influence to put a stop to it and fast before anyone else has to suffer.
Be aware that you need to lay down the rules for your child and the potential consequences for breaking them. This will be positive for them and the child they bully.
You can even make a huge change if your child isn’t the bully or the victim; you simply need to teach them how to recognize bullying. Encourage them to make a stand against anyone who partakes in bullying and to always inform an adult. In reality, children can make a huge difference, since they often hold more influence over their peers than any adult does.
If no one makes a change, who will? We need to be prepared to stand up for our children and any other child who may be a victim of bullying. Don’t just wait for someone to speak out, be prepared to speak out on your own accord.