In schools, playgrounds and many other places, children often become victims of name-calling, cruel taunts, and physical bullying. And when such a thing happens to our children, it’s hard for us to focus on anything else. We often want to help our children, but don’t quite know how to. The following suggestions can pave the way towards helping your child deal with the bullying they may be facing in school or the playground, or even online.
Listen to them
Before you try to make children understand your point of view, hear them out first. Try to understand what’s bothering them. Allow children to open up to you about anything that might have happened to them in school or anywhere else, and hard as it is, try not to react to whatever they tell you. You might want to jump in with a solution, but find out if they already have a plan to help them cope. Children often might just be looking to be heard. Any ideas and suggestions can be thought up jointly. You need to empower your children with the confidence that they can come up with solutions and ideas as well.
Teach them how to react
Children who react quickly are often the target of bullies because they are the ones who take bullying to heart and end up reacting in a way they shouldn’t. There are times bullies might provoke their targets, but simply teaching children to walk away from such situations is often the best way to deal with it. Children should also be taught to be open with their teachers in case they are being bullied too often.
Praise your child
Remember, it isn’t easy for your child to tell you about the bullying they might have faced. Praising children for simply opening up to you and sharing their problems will give them a confidence boost. Encourage them for having the ability to identify the problem and coming to someone for help. Children who are bullied sometimes go through a phase of low self-esteem – this praise will go a long way in helping restore their confidence.
Reassure your child it’s not their fault.
Many children internalise the bullying. They seem to think that it is something they did or something about the way they are that leads to bullying. We need to emphasize that they do not need to change any part of themselves for the bullying to stop. Remind children that being bullied isn’t about being weak and being a bully isn’t about being strong. As parents, it’s important to always be by their side. Believing them, listening to their side of the story – that is what children look for most from parents.
Although every school will have an anti-bullying policy in place (if they don’t it is time to remind the school to have one), it’s a good idea to request the school to conduct regular anti-bullying workshops for all the children. If the problem persists, see if the school counsellor can talk to the bully and your child separately and together, to come up with a strategy to prevent any further instances.
Children can be bullied online as well – and this is becoming an increasingly prevalent phenomenon. Make sure you take your child through what is safe and unsafe internet practices. Also, ensure that they know the right authorities to report a post or how to block a person or group.
Bullying may happen at any stage in life, and we may not be able to protect our child from bullies all the time. But what we can do is equip our children with the right tools and to instil enough confidence in them to be able to stand up to and deal with the bullying.