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?
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.
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?
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.
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:
- Listen to them.
- Make eye contact.
- Let them know you care about what’s happening (even if it seems like “kid” stuff).
- Brainstorm solutions with them.
- Encourage your child to take action and be there with them when they act.
- Check into your school’s Bully Prevention Program.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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:
- Ask the teacher for a conference after school when you and your child can speak to him/her.
- 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.
- 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.
- If it is serious enough, consider changing your child’s class or school.
Were you or your kids bullied? How did you handle it?