Bullying is largely associated with middle school. However, it can actually occur at any age. It’s not uncommon for children to experience bullying in elementary school, or even prior, for example. However, just because it’s common, doesn’t make it acceptable.
Discovering your child is being bullied at any age can be devastating. You want to help and put a stop to the problem, but you’re unsure how you should handle it. If you’re trying to help your child deal with bullies, below you’ll discover some of the best ways to handle the situation.
Talk To Your Child
The first thing you’ll want to do is talk to your child about what they’re going through. It’s important they learn they can talk to you about the situation and they’re not alone. This means, you’re going to need to stay calm and listen to what they’re saying. Show your understanding and concern and remind them it isn’t their fault.
The calmer and more supportive you are, the more comfortable they’ll feel talking to you about the bullying. If you get angry and openly frustrated, it’s only going to make your child shy away from telling you about any further incidents of bullying in the future.
Ask them about the situation. Who is the bully and when does it occur? Ask them if they’ve tried anything to make it stop, careful not to make it sound like you’re blaming them for the problem or that they could be doing something differently. It’s also useful to ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them feel safe. Talking about it and just letting them know they aren’t alone is going to be a big help.
Talk To Your Child’s Teacher
Once you have talked to your child and got to the bottom of what is going on, you can then move on to talk to their teacher. Before heading to talk to the teacher, it’s a good idea to write down as much information as you can such as:
- How long the bullying has been going on for
- When it happens (dates, times etc)
- The names of the children involved
By presenting as much information as possible to the teacher, they’ll be able to come up with the best potential solution. If, after trying the teacher’s method, the bullying still continues, you can take the matter to the principle. Remember to keep records of when the bullying occurs and what form it takes on, so you can show it to the principle if required.
It might not be easy, but it’s really important not to overreact. As a parent, you’ll understandably want to fiercely protect your child from bullies. You’ll be outraged this is happening to your child. However, if you show this outrage to your child, they’re going to be unwilling to come to you if it continues.
Overreacting is also not going to help you solve the problem. If you fly off the handle while you’re speaking to your child’s teachers for example, they’re going to be less likely to help you. It’s also important not to make contact with the bully or their parents by yourself.
Encourage Them To Walk Away
While you want your child to be able to protect themselves, the best thing you can do is to encourage them to walk away from the situation. Whenever possible, don’t encourage them to fight back. Violence is never the answer and if anything, it will land your child in trouble. If there’s a zero-tolerance policy in place, fighting back could even get your child expelled from school.
So, always advise your child to walk away and find an adult. If the bullying occurs off school property, such as when they’re walking home, you can also provide safety strategies. This includes giving them an adult’s phone number they can call if needed, along with potential safe houses they can stop at if they are being pursued. You could also see if there’s an older child or an adult who could walk them to and from school.
Help Build Up Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Bullying can really impact a child’s self-esteem. However, it could also be that your child is already quite shy and easier to bully. Working on building up their self-esteem will help them stand up to bullies in the future.
Make sure you talk to them about bullies and the reasons they do it. Your child will automatically believe they are being bullied because there is something wrong with them. So, explain that it’s usually down to how the bully feels about themselves and nothing to do with them.
You could also teach them how to walk more confidently. Helping them to identify their positive traits is also going to help. If they feel more confident, they’re going to be much more assertive when they need to be.
Encourage Them To Make New Friends
It could be a good idea to encourage them to make new friends. This gives them the opportunity to find peers they can enjoy spending time with. New friends won’t have negative preconceptions about them like the bullies do.
Ideally, you’ll want to encourage them to make friends with calm, friendly children. If your child is a little socially awkward, they may need help making new friends and learning how to maintain a friendship.
Educate Them About Cyber Bullying
These days, it’s not just in-person bullying that children need to worry about. The rise of technology has led to a worrying increase in cyber bullying. Usually carried out via social media, cyber bullying can be particularly difficult for a child to deal with as it can take place at any time and even within the comfort of their own home.
It’s important to educate your child about cyber bullying and what they can do if it happens to them. Social media sites do have report features and security settings, but bullies can slip through the net. Let your child know that if they receive any nasty messages or communication from the bullies online, they need to report it to an adult.
Contact The Bully’s Parents
If all else fails and the bullying is persistent, contacting the bully’s parents could work. However, you should be sure that the other parents will want to co-operate. If they don’t, it could make the situation much worse. That’s why it’s often recommended as a last resort.
If you do decide to call them, make sure you do it in a non-confrontational way. If you get angry or confront them about it, they’re going to automatically be defensive and you’re unlikely to get anywhere. So, stay polite and non-confrontational.
The above are some of the best ways to handle your child being bullied. However, if your child is having to deal with violence or physical threats, it’s important to tell the school or the police. Physical violence should never be tolerated, and it is classed as a serious offence. You should find the school is co-operative in helping to combat bullying. However, if you don’t get the result you’re hoping for, don’t be afraid to take the complaint higher up.