By Jodie Lynn
Bullies - They Are Here To Stay!
Question: How should I tell my child to handle bullies?
I hear this question all the time, even for children as young as kindergarten age. As frustrating as it may seem, they're in every classroom, activity, church, camps, child care centers and neighborhoods. If I left anything out, they are there too.
Here is what NOT to do:
Don't advise your child to hit back. It could be more trouble than what it is worth. If you personally know that doing this, it might actually work, it's up to you. Many parents are now giving their permission for their child to hit back. This does put the school, parent, teacher, principal, camp director or whomever, in a pickle because all children who do hit back will be disciplined. If your child says, "My mom said to call her if you have any questions about me hitting back," this leaves the door wide open for setting up a bumpy ride with the facility, organization or parent. But, if you are willing to go that route and accept responsibility, then do whatever you think is best for your situation.
Don't talk directly to the bully yourself. It only makes matters worse.
Don't make light of a situation. Bullies always know when and when not to approach another child. Even if an adult doesn't see them, if your child says it happened, it probably did.
Don't think that just because a bully is only teasing with words that it does not count. It does. Emotional stress can do as much damage as getting hit -- maybe even more!
Don't look the other way. If you catch a bully in action, give a stern look to send a message that something will be done and/or make an indication to your child that now you understand what has been taking place. Go and report the incident right then and there.
If you have been notified that your child is the bully by the school, don't refuse to believe it. Talk directly to the person in charge and ask for help. Most kids who are a bully was once bullied...it can happen to anyone.
Here are some tips on what to do:
Do listen to what your child has to say.
Do teach your child to first use all measures of assistance and reason to stop the bullying behavior.
Do tell your child that It's a good idea to involve an authority figure: a parent, bus driver, teacher and so on, especially if the bullying involves physical assault.
Do enroll your child in a karate class to build self-esteem.
Do take taunting and hitting seriously. Unfortunately, bullies will always be around.
Because of this, you will want to talk about the best way to handle various situations.
Teach your child that it is not silly to voice his or her concerns.
When the occasion arises, talk and role-play with your child. Let your child be the bully during role play. Find out where and when the bullying is taking place. Who is around? What is happening? These questions will help you gather details and help your child shed some of the emotions he is feeling.
Signs that your child is being bullied:
Upset stomach before school or going to a specific activity or even outside to play.
Requests for more lunch money or an advance on their allowance but doesn't buy anything and is not saving it. (Some bullies have a pretty good thing going by collecting money in order for their word to stop picking on your child for the time being.) Don't think this doesn't happen and don't think as the child gets older the price of "freedom" won't go up. In middle school and high school it can get much worse and your child may be asking for money more frequently.
Inability to sleep at night.
Constant bickering with siblings or best friends.
Becomes easily frustrated with simple activities.
Begins to back talk.
Many schools as well as other facilities have implemented programs to help alleviate the stress and challenges that fighting, bullying and even intense "teasing" can cause students, teachers and parents. If your school, church, camp, childcare facility, or wherever the bullying is being done, doesn't have a program, ask for one.
Follow through with conversations you have had with the person in charge to let he/she know that you mean business and want a plan of action as soon as possible. Do it for not only your child but for all of the others as well.
If you have more questions on bullies, please feel free to sign up for my new ParentToParentChat newsletter on www.ParentToParent.com.
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