BULLYING: Options for Parents
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
This is a question frequently asked by parents, social workers, and teachers. There are numerous informative books written on this topic. Unfortunately, sometimes parents simply do not have all the answers and do not have complete control over what happens. We as parents can only do our best. Here are a few tips parents have found helpful.
NOTE: It is your right to make sure your child is protected. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!
Create a culture in the home where it is SAFE to discuss anything.
Teach children to have a confident posture. Bullies are mostly predators and they initially spot potential victims based on physical appearance. Standing tall, holding chin up, shoulders back, etc. is a good start to avoid being noticed by a bully.
Teach your children to make eye contact. Eye contact displays self-confidence.
Family traditions and rituals are important. Family traditions and rituals can foster feelings of safety and belonging. (Ex. Sunday night family has dinner together and talks about the upcoming week and puts closure on weekend.)
Explain to your children that talking to a teacher and especially a parent about a bully is NOT wrong.
Teach kids to avoid areas where they may be bullied and NEVER be alone in remote areas.
Nurture friendships. Bullies tend not to target kids who have a strong support system or are part of a group. Help kids develop strong friendships via play dates, birthday parties, ask your friends with kids which afterschool activities their kids attend, etc.
Enroll the child into activities that make him/her feel unique while building self-confidence. (Ex. Martial Arts / Dance / Swim Team / Art School / Chess Club / etc.) As a father and mental health professional, I am convinced that a Martial Arts program can give a child self-confidence, self-defense, a feeling of being a part of something, and a sense of his/her own uniqueness. Ownership of any other activity is also excellent. Kids on teams or in clubs working on a project (Ex. Movie club, writing club, etc.) tend to be bullied less. If bullied, these kids tend to have a stronger COPING MECHANISM. *
Parents should attempt to know all their children’s friends and be familiar with school policies on bullying.
Parents can start a local anti-bullying neighborhood watch group.
NEVER ALLOW your child to take blame or defend a bully. (Ex. “He only hit me because I was walking to slow. It’s not his fault. He is a nice guy, I am just annoying so he punches me in the arm. Etc.)