Being proactive in talking to children about bullying will help them handle difficult, potentially embarrassing situations as and when they arise. Parents can use this conversation to talk about ways to respond to one or more school bullies.
Even more importantly, parents must explain the importance of tolerance and treating other children in a friendly manner. Children should think about how they would feel if they were bullied and learn how devastating being bullied is for the child involved.
Finally, parents should establish an open line of communication with their children so that children will feel comfortable telling parents about problems that arise at school. One of the main reasons why children are so adversely affected by a school bully is that they often feel that they cannot talk to anyone about the problem but are unable to cope with it on their own.
A parent who discovers a child has been bullied at school should talk to the child about the incident. Find out how the child feels before taking action. If the bullying was solely verbal, then perhaps the best course of action would be for a child to ignore it with the understanding that a bully’s words do not reflect on a child’s capabilities and self-worth.
If the incident involved physical harm and/or the threat of physical harm, then something must be done to prevent it from happening again. Thankfully, many schools are being more attuned to the problem that bullies pose and are willing to listen to a parent’s or child’s complaints about physical threats.
Parents should talk to a teacher while other children are out of earshot. A child who is found by school bullies to be a “tattletale” will become even more of a target. If the teacher is unable or unwilling to do anything about the problem, then talk to the school principal. In serious cases, a parent may need to consider having a child change schools.
There are two things that parents should never do when dealing with an incident regarding one or more school bullies. First of all, it is important to avoid confronting the bully’s parents, unless they are close friends with whom you can speak with ease. While some parents are completely unaware of their child’s problems and are more than happy to help resolve the problem, others are bullies themselves who may be encouraging a child to act in an aggressive, violent manner.
It is also imperative that parents never encourage a child to resort to physical violence. Responding with physical violence can put a child in danger, especially if the bully is physically strong and/or is accompanied by a gang of friends. Even more importantly, encouraging children to respond to bullying with physical violence teaches them that violence is a good option and can lead to a victim of bullying becoming a bully.
While giving a child a sound moral foundation reduces the likelihood of him or her becoming a bully, parents should realize that it is not inconceivable for his or her precious darling to bully another child at school. When such an instance arises, a parent will need to deal with the incident instead of hoping that it goes away.
To start with, a parent should talk with the child and find out why he or she is behaving in an inappropriate manner. Identifying the root cause of the problem will help a child learn how to deal with stress, rejection, anxiety, sadness and other negative feelings in a positive manner. Children who have an aggressive streak may need to lose some at-home privileges until they learn to treat other people in an acceptable manner.
While bullying is a common problem, it is not one that can be ignored. Parents must take proactive action to help children learn how to deal with bullying and then stand up for a child’s behalf if he or she is bullied at school. Just as importantly, parents need to ensure that their child is not involved in bullying and deal with the child in an appropriate manner if the child bullies a classmate or younger child at school.