As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You can tell by their moods and reactions what kind of day they have been having. You provide them with a sense of self by accepting them for who they are and helping them grow into the adults they are meant to be. Understanding your child and what makes them who they are will help you talk to them about sensitive issues including those that revolve around bullying. So what about your children and bullies?
*Acceptance – Children are unique individuals. Each one possesses something that sets them apart from their peers. They may not fit in with the popular kids or possess outstanding athletic ability. Some may be quiet and keep to themselves. Others like being different. They dress or act outside the realm of what is considered normal.
Being different often makes them easy targets for bullies. Name calling, threats and physical violence are common tactics used by bullies to control and manipulate their victims. By attacking their vulnerabilities they try to exert their superiority. The internet, for all its benefits, has provided another avenue for bullies to attack their victims. Even with all of these ways of targeting their victims, many kids can overcome being bullied. Those are the children who have been accepted by their parents for who they are. Parents who embrace their children as well as their differences, have kids who are less likely to let bullies adversely affect them.
*Find ways to connect – Parents should try and find ways to connect with their kids. Learn about the sports they are in, or why the like a specific subject in school. Listen to music together or go to concerts. Children who don’t always seem to conform to the will of others are usually those who are the most interesting. They can teach as well as be taught.
Connecting with your child can something as simple as taking an afternoon walk as a way to relax after a long day. Hobbies or activities don’t have to be extravagant. Whatever you can do as a parent to reach out to your child and let them know you are standing with them no matter what is important.
*Communicate – Make it a point to talk to your child, not just a passing “How was class?” The more you communicate with your child, the more you will learn what is actually going on. If they are be bullied, it will eventually begin to reveal itself. Cell phones have made communication an ongoing thing. You no longer have to wait until they get home from school or you get home from work. Text them or call them. Any kind of connection letting them know you are care may be just what they need if they are having a rough day at school.
When they begin to transition from middle to high school, talk to them about what to expect. Let them know you’ve had experiences too, especially where bullies are concerned. Make sure they know they are not alone. New students who move into a school may feel as if they have know one to talk to. Being able to open up to the their parents is important.
*Share – As a parent, you can share your experiences with your child. Highlights and not so pleasant memories can show your child you may have had the same feelings they are experiencing. Be honest about things you don’t know. Cyber bullying is a new tactic for bullies. Cyber safety (cyber safety) is something you should both learn about to make sure it doesn’t begin to affect your child.
Sharing your concerns about cyber bullying may show you a side of your child you didn’t already know. Children are taught about computers in school. Your child may know much more than you think about the internet and how to use it to their advantage. Spend time with them online and discover how much your student has been learning about web based applications and how they can be applied to our daily lives.
*Interact – Interact with students when it comes to stopping bullies in their school. Talk to teachers and faculty to determine if they know what is going on. If bullying is not a major problem in your school, talk with students and teachers to find out what they are doing right. Another school may be able to use their ideas to battle the bullies in their areas.
Interacting with your student on both home and school levels provides them with security of knowing what they go through is important to you. It also shows them you are willing to do what it takes to make sure they have a safe and secure environment to learn in.
*Educate – Above all, educate your children on what bullying is, the tactics bullies use and how they can prevent being victims. As a parent, you know how your child will most likely react to a bully’s attack. Talk to them. If you begin to see the signs that your child may be a victim, or even the bully, take notice and step up. By following their cues, you will be able to learn what is happening in their environment.
Teaching your children how to respond if they are approached online by a bully may save their life. What they see on the computer in a profile or chat room may be fictitious. Bullies can be whoever they want to be and remain completely anonymous hiding behind the mask they have created. Making sure children know the dangers of talking to anyone who they do not personally know will make them more aware if someone unknown begins to talk to them.
*Become Involved – Stay active in your child’s life. Go to the school for lunch if you can. Talk to their teachers. You don’t have to make it seem as if you are hounding your child. Pay visits, not so much as a concerned parent, but as someone who cares about their child and wants to see them. For some, this may seem awkward, but if a child is under the influence of a bully, it can make a world of difference in how safe they feel.
Older students may not be comfortable with you showing up during the day. That shouldn’t stop you from contacting the school occasionally to find out if there is anything going on that you need to be aware of. As a parent, the knowledge you have of your child and their behaviours will indicate if there is something amiss. Being aware of sudden changes in their grades, appearance and attitude can give you a heads up if something begins to go wrong.
How well you know your child will be the key to how soon a bully can be stopped. Even children who cover the signs well will eventually leave a clue that they are having a problem. Never ignore a sign of bullying. Once it has started it only continues to escalate until the bully is either tired of their game or they have moved on to victimize another student. Be aware and take action if you believe your child or one of their peers is being needless attacked by a bully. Contact the proper authorities if threats have been sent over the internet or cell phones.