As kids, we have all been teased by a sibling or a friend at one point or another in our lives. When done in a playful and friendly manner, such teasing is not usually harmful, especially when both kids are enjoying their time. However, bullying occurs when this teasing becomes hurtful and one of the kids feels uncomfortable with it. This form of bullying should be addressed and needs to be stopped. Read on to learn how to teach kids about bullying.
|SEE ALSO: The Need for Bullying Awareness|
Definition of Bullying
Bullying is the intentional torment of someone, whether physically, psychologically, or verbally. It can start with hitting, shoving, name-calling, making threats, and mocking. Some bullies extort their victims’ money and food. In some cases, a bully may intentionally make their victims feel left out and may start spreading harsh rumors about them. The latter has been made extremely easy since the advent of social media and electronic messaging.
Why Should Bullying Be Taken Seriously?
Bullying affects the victims’ self-esteem and sense of self-worth, so adults should never dismiss it as something that the child just has to cope with. When the bullying becomes so extreme, tragedies occur, such as suicides and school shootings. Every adult should be concerned with knowing how to teach kids about bullying.
My Child Is a Bully
It is never an easy experience for a parent to learn that his child is the school’s bully. However, this is a matter that should be taken seriously and should be dealt with immediately. As a parent, you should learn how to teach kids about bullying, so that you can stop it before it leads to more aggressive, antisocial behavior. Bullying can interfere with your child’s academic achievements and can prevent him from making long-term friendships.
Reasons for Bullying
Bullying occurs for a variety of reasons, including the following:
– The bully feels insecure and tormenting other children who are emotionally or physically weaker makes him or her feel more important, popular, and in control
– The bully does not fully comprehend that picking on other kids is an unacceptable behavior
– The bully has a defiant and aggressive personality that manifests itself in picking on other children
– The bully has witnessed aggressive and unkind interactions at home, such as constant yelling and name-calling, and repeats the behavior with other children
– The bully watches TV shows where people are ostracized because they are different in size, looks, race, or religion
– The bully has trouble dealing with anger, frustration, or insecurity, so he takes it out on other children
– The bully has not learned the proper ways to solve conflicts and understand differences
How to Teach Kids about Bullying: My Child Is the Bully
A child should learn that he will never get away with his bullying behavior and that there will always be consequences, both at home and school. The following tips may help you curb your child’s bullying behavior.
– Bullying is no laughing matter. You child should understand that you will never tolerate bullying. Punish them when they bully others by taking away privileges that mean something to them.
– Teach children to be respectful and kind to others, even those who have different skin colors and different beliefs. Teach them how to be empathetic towards other people.
– When disciplining your child, positive reinforcement is more effective than negative discipline. Rather than punishing your child when he makes a mistake, praise him for his good behavior. When you offer the child something that motivates him or her, he or she will repeat the desired behaviour. When your child handles a situation without resorting to violence or bullying, take notice and praise them.
– Try to find out the reasons behind your child’s bullying behavior, especially at the place where the bullying occurs. Stay in touch with the parents of your children’s friends and their school teachers. Is your child surrounded by kids that bully others all the time? Is their bullying behavior an attempt at fitting in? Try to get your children involved in activities outside school so that they develop friendships with other children.
– Monitor your own behavior. Be a good parent. Children absorb everything they see at home and repeat those behaviors. The way you handle conflict will have an impact on how your children handle problems in their lives. If you adopt aggressive behaviors at home, in front of your kids, they are more likely to be aggressive when dealing with others. When a child lives with constant yelling, name-calling, harsh criticism, or physical anger, he or she is likely to repeat those behaviors with other children.
– You are your child’s role model. You should pay attention to how you talk to your children and how you deal with strong emotions, such as anger, in their presence. Your criticism of your child should be constructive, never damaging to his self-esteem. You should always make your child feel loved and accepted, even if his behaviors are not.
– Keep tabs on your child’s attitude at home. Most, if not all, siblings get into fights. However, it is not wise for a parent to get involved unless he fears some sort of harm may befall his child. A parent should pay attention to any physical violence that may occur and explain to the child what’s acceptable and what’s not.
– Sometimes children bully others because they have no idea how to deal with their own emotions. When faced with conflict, teach your children to be positive and understanding. Teach them constructive ways in which they can be open about their frustrations and help them understand how to cope with their negative feelings.
– Stressful life events, such as the demise of a family member, may contribute to your child’s bullying behavior. In such cases, you may need to seek the help of professional counselors and therapists.
My Child Is a Victim of Bullying
Your son is starting to ask you for more lunch money, but you know he never eats that much. And he comes home from school hungry. You later find out that he has been giving his lunch money to an older child, threatening to beat him up. Your 13-year-old daughter goes to a new school and believes everything is going well. All the popular girls are friendly with her, but then she realizes they have been posting rumors about her. The sad truth is, bullying is more widespread than most people like to admit. It goes without saying that physical bulling can lead to children seriously getting hurt; however, even if there is no physical violence involved, bullying can still leave children with deep emotional scars.
Signs of Bullying
Bullying is never easy to detect. Unless the bully has been attacking your child physically and there are visible bruises or injuries, you may never be able to tell that your child is a victim of emotional or psychological bullying. The following warning signs may help you determine if your child is being bullied:
– The child acts differently and seems anxious
– He does not eat or sleep well
– He no longer spends time on the activities he usually enjoys
– He seems moody or more easily upset than usual
– He starts avoiding certain situations (like going to school or engaging in after-school activities)
How to Teach Kids about Bullying: My Child Is the Victim
– It is important to note that even if your child is not a victim of bullying right now, you should teach him how to deal with it if it does happen. When the bullying does occur, you should help your child with finding effective ways in dealing with the teasing, bullying, or gossip.
– If you suspect your child is being bullied, but he won’t open up, try finding different opportunities to bring up the conversation. For example, you can talk about experiences that you or any another family member may have faced at that age; you can then ask your child about his opinion.
– Teach your children that if someone is bullying or harassing them, they should always report it to an adult, whether it’s you, a school teacher, a friend, or an older sibling. Children should also learn that even if they see the bullying happen to someone else, they should report it.
– Offer comfort and be supportive when your child tells you that he is being bullied. Many children refrain from telling adults about the bullying because they feel embarrassed about it. They fear their parents will get angry, upset, or disappointed. The child may feel that it is somehow his fault. He may feel that if he had done something differently, the bullying wouldn’t have occurred. Sometimes children keep the bullying a secret because they are scared the bully will find out and make their lives even worse. Some children feel scared that their parents will encourage them to fight back when they are scared to; others feel their parents may not believe them or may do nothing about the bullying.
– Shower your child with love and praise him for doing the right thing and talking to an adult. You should be very understanding of your child’s emotional needs at this crucial time. Help him understand that it was not his fault, but the bully’s, and that he is not alone—many people get bullied at least once in their lifetimes. Provide a safe environment for your child at home and let him know that you will figure out how to find a solution together.
– Inform the school principal about the bullying. This way, he or she can take steps to monitor the situation and keep your child safe at school.
– Bullying can really take a toll on a child’s confidence and sense of self-worth. To help your child, encourage him to spend time with other friends who have a positive influence on him.
– Be there for your child, not just in difficult situations but in positive situations as well. Always listen attentively to what your children have to say. Let them know that you trust them and that they are strong enough to deal with any bullying they may face in their lives.
– If your child informs you that he has been a victim of bullying and the bully threatens to physically harm your child, take the matter seriously. You may find it useful to approach the bully’s parents, but only after you have talked to school teachers and counselors. And even when you do approach the bully’s parents, make sure it is in the presence of a school official to prevent the escalation of the situation.
– It is understandable that you may be very angry because your child is being bullied and you may be tempted to advise him to fight back. It is your responsibility to make sure your child is safe but without teaching him to be violent. As a child, you may have been told to “stand up for yourself,” but fighting back is not the right solution to end the bullying problem. Advise kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back. The problem may quickly escalate and someone may get physically hurt. Teach them that it is best to walk away from the situation, make other friends, and inform an adult.
– For starters, advise your child to stay away from the bully and to make sure they always have a friend with them. Use a different bathroom to avoid running into the bully. Tell your child to never go to his locker when there is no one around.
– Who said anger management was just for adults? Teach your child to hold the anger. Bullies feel satisfied when they make their victims angry; this is what makes them feel more powerful.
– Teach your child to be brave and to walk away from any situation that may escalate into violence. The bully thrives on the victim’s anger so it’s best to ignore the hurtful remarks. When the child acts like he doesn’t care, the bully will eventually get bored and stop his behavior.
“Bullying” involves a wide range of actions, so there really is no single solution that will work in all situations. However, as a parent you should learn how teach kids about bullying in order to keep them safe.