What Do I Do If My Child is Bullied?

What Do I Do If My Child is Bullied?

There was so much to cover in yesterday’s post about bullying that I decided the topic of bullying deserved a second post.

My child is being bullied.  Now what?

bullied I was bullied as a kid.

It wasn’t fun.  It wasn’t pretty.  And I definitely remember feeling like I was just supposed to suck it up.  It, bullying, was just part of growing up.

After the response I received on The Bully Epidemic post and on facebook, I am shocked to discover that I think the statistic:

13 million American kids will be bullied this year

is too low.  It seems like every single person I know has a story about being bullied.

Has bullying always been so prevalent?  Or were we just more accepting before?

Bullying

When I was a kid (1970’s and ’80’s), the attitude was very much:

  • kids will be kids
  • walk away
  • be the bigger person
  • turn the other cheek
  • grow a thicker skin

While I think the attitude toward bullying is changing, I don’t know how far from the kids will be kids attitude we’ve actually gotten.

I have to admit to making this mistake when my stepson was bullied by a peer.  My attitude was along the lines of:

This is part of growing up.  Just ignore it.  Everyone goes through this.  High school/Junior High is tough.

Thankfully his mom wasn’t dismissive like me and contacted the school.  The bullying seemed to go away, or at least lessen significantly, after she took action.

I’m learning, as every parent does, as I journey along this road of parenting.  And I am incredibly grateful to good friends that are willing to talk openly about issues their kids have had and also projects like The Bully Project that are helping me learn how to respond when my kids are bullied.

Take Bullying Seriously

Here are some of the lessons/points I want to share:

  • Bullying is not something you can ignore.
  • Bullying is not something that you want your child to handle alone.
  • Tragically, some kids commit suicide due to bullying.
  • You do not want your child to be one of those statistics.

My friends pointed me toward a great article by Melissa Taylor called  Bullying – What Parents Need to Know.   Definitely go read it.    Some of the points that were valuable for me were:

This (bullying) is different than occasional bad behavior, when tempers flair and your child punches someone else.

I was glad to have this clarified.  Remember my post about my son being a bully?  This point helped me understand that a one time incident does not mean your child is a bully.

Bullies can be your friends…

Some of the worst emotional bullying can be from your child’s best friends.  For some reason this seems especially true with girls.

empower your child…

Observe your child, listen to your child and empathize, guide your child to think of solutions, support your child in action.

Great advice that I wish I’d known about soon enough to help my stepson.  Someone else recently told me that she actively listens to everything her kids tell her because, what they are saying is important to her child; therefore, she needs to show it is important to her too.  Also great advice I am actively trying to follow.

…schools that are effective in preventing bullying are starting with elementary schools and creating a culture of inclusion and acceptance, and integrating these skills into the classroom curriculum.

Also, Joann from The Casual Perfectionist wrote:

My daughter’s school has a Bully Prevention Plan in place. They are awesome at following through with it, helping children be empowered and safe, and also keeping the parents informed in the process.

Some other advice/comments from friends include:

…the only way to combat it (bullying) is to create strong girls and boys, but many times the social ability of peers to destroy years of hard work is amazing.

…build an open relationship with your kids so they feel comfortable telling you when things bother them. Provide them with the safe, non-judgmental place to share how they feel and what others are saying.

I often wonder when I witness bullying behavior from adults, in the workplace and in social situations, if they behaved the same way as children? If let go, the behavior can certainly carry through life, making what I would think would be a miserable existence. I think we all need to work together to put a stop to it whenever we witness it, whether we are involved with that person or not. I believe it is often a cry for help.  by Rajean Blomquist

Steps to take if your child is being bullied:

  1. Listen to them.
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Let them know you care about what’s happening (even if it seems like “kid” stuff).
  4. Brainstorm solutions with them.
  5. Encourage your child to take action and be there with them when they act.
  6. Check into your school’s Bully Prevention Program.
  7. If you think something’s wrong, but your child isn’t coming to you – PUSH.  They will open up eventually and are usually relieved once they do.
  8. Encourage your children to talk about their school day with you by asking two questions at dinner – What was your best thing today?  What was your worst thing?
  9. Set up a “15 minute” plan. Meaning your child can say, Mom, I need to talk to you for 15 minutes tonight.  Same goes for you – you can call a 15 min meeting with your child if they seem out of sorts.  I usually do this at bed time when I’m tucking them in.

Once you’ve gotten them to talk, some actions you can take to empower your child AND let them know they aren’t alone include:

  1. Ask the teacher for a conference after school when you and your child can speak to him/her.
  2. Email the teacher and let her know your child has an issue they’d like to discuss with the teacher.  Have your child approach the teacher the next day.
  3. Talk to the principal about enforcing the school’s Bully Prevention Plan, beefing it up, or creating one if one isn’t in place.  Have your child and perhaps student council brainstorm things that should be in the Plan.
  4. If it is serious enough, consider changing your child’s class or school.

Were you or your kids bullied?  How did you handle it? 

bullying

Thanks to The Bully Project for inspiring this post and sponsoring yeseterday’s post. Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

13 Responses to What Do I Do If My Child is Bullied?

  1. […] much to say on the bullying topic, that I split it into another post.  Tomorrow’s topic is What you should do if your child is bullied.  I am going to see the movie Bully on Thursday and I hope you will try to see it too.  Together […]

  2. Great read! Thanks for putting/keeping this in front of us. It is real. It is hurtful. Fortunately we aren’t in the 70’s/80’s anymore. Love the 15 minutes!!! I ask my dudes to tell me the three best things that happened and the thre “not so greats” of each day – not exactly 15 minutes, but we’ll get better :o)
    TYSM!
    anje

    • Thanks Anje! I think that we, as parents, are getting better about engaging our kids in conversations -learning the “tricks” to get them to open up.

      Open ended questions definitely help and having a routine of the best thing/worst thing has REALLY been a great tool in my parenting arsenal.

  3. As a new mom, it’s such an important eye opener to read these types of posts. Hopefully we’ll have grown as a community by the time my little man is in school, but if not, I hope I can be a good parent and address these issues in a healthy manner!

    • It is SO easy to dismiss things – especially when it’s starting in preschool and first grade. My first reaction to my daughter saying “Annie” was mean was to brush it off – after all they are in preschool – how bad could it be?

      But I”m learning we need to address it right away, be proactive, and most importantly let you child know you won’t let anyone treat them badly.

  4. With my kids getting older we are definitely getting into the bullying age. Although I can’t believe how young it starts. Girls do start in with the sly comments that are meant to pack a punch, while boys are threatening to do it. Great article Daria. It’s so hard to know exactly how to help them out. I remember being told to just say “sticks and stones…” to the bullies. Yeah, that NEVER worked!

    • Exactly Susan – the sticks and stones thing doesn’t work. I don’t know why I thought to continue that response with my own children – just didn’t know any better I suppose.

      I am very grateful for our group of friends that are helping me learn better parenting skills and how to handle this bullying concept. It seems almost every kid has some bullying experience at some point.

  5. The school system definitely needs to be more proactive. When my son was bullied I did everything I could to help. Listening to him and talking about it didn’t stop the bullying. Neither did calling the bully’s parents – they didn’t care. What really floored me was the school’s response to my phone calls & concerns: ‘we can’t do anything about it if we don’t see it happen’ and this gem ‘it’s not on school property’ (in reply to the fact that a group of boys were chasing my son when school ended). It was a frustrating and agonizing situation and I STILL resent the school administration for their ridiculous non-response.

    • Absolutely Kathy! That is what every teacher I’ve talked to about this have said – the schools HAVE to be on top of it, nip it in the bud, and be vigilant.

      We did have a Principal pull the “well, it wasn’t on our property” thing when my stepson was bullied on his way home from school. Astonishing lack of character on his part. Can’t believe he wasn’t engaged in making his student body a safe environment.

      I think things are getting better, but I agree there is a long way to go yet.

      So sorry about your son.

    • What did you end up doing? Did you change schools?

      So sorry to hear about your child. It breaks your heart as a mother to have your child picked on and not be able to protect them. And that the teachers and other parents didn’t care? Unforgivable!

  6. A very thoughtful post, Daria. I was bullied in 8th and 9th grade by a group of girls and I remember to this day the stress and anxiety it caused me. My son is too young right now but you better believe, I’ll be very vigilant about this when he comes of age. He goes to Montessori where they’ve taken a unique approach to bullying that involves teaching kids how to be peaceful. The Montessori approach is focused on teaching children peace, respect and kindness and modeling this in all aspects of the school environment. I believe though it starts with us as adults. We CANNOT tolerate our children being bullied or bullying others. I truly believe that children who are bullies when young grow up to be bullies as adults. I see it all too often in the office. Let’s nip it in the bud.

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