Thursday, August 9, 2007

Parenting Tips: Bullies

Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer wrote a great post today about her son Adam and a bully at camp. Her husband did a great job in helping Adam handle a bad situation! Check it out here.

As a counselor I often talk to parents who don't know how to help their children deal with the inevitable bullies at school or summer camp. It is so hard as a parent to know when to step in and when to let a child fend for themselves. Moms especially have a hard time because we get very protective when anyone threatens our "babies."

According to Wikipedia, Bullying is the intentional tormenting of others through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. There is currently no legal definition of bullying.
In colloquial speech, bullying often describes a form of harassment perpetrated by an abuser who possesses more physical and/or social power and dominance than the victim. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a target. The harassment can be verbal, physical and/or emotional.

How do you know when your child is being bullied?

They might:

  • Not want to go to school
  • Suddenly become “sick” when it is time to leave for school
  • Begin to bully siblings
  • Start having nightmares
  • Become moody, irritable, withdrawn, anxious
  • Begin to take a different route to school
  • Come home hungry after school because their lunch money is “lost”
  • Have torn or missing clothing
  • Have physical injuries inconsistent with explanation.

What do you do when your child admits to being bullied?

  • Listen
  • Believe them
  • Remind them that it is not their fault
  • Encourage your child to talk about his/her feelings
  • Tell your child that they did the right thing by telling
  • Talk to the adults in charge (teacher, principle, counselor)
  • Teach your child to stay with a group or a friend
  • Encourage your child to “act brave” and look directly into the bully’s eyes and to hold their head high
  • Teach them to ignore the bully when possible. Bullies feed on reactions
  • Teach them to use their heads, not their fists
  • Encourage your child to avoid the bully if possible
  • Tell your child that they shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help
Check out some books on Bullies:
How to Handle Bullies, Teasers and Other Meanies: A Book That Takes the Nuisance Out of Name Calling and Other Nonsense

How to Deal With Bullies

Blue Cheese Breath and Stinky Feet: How to Deal With Bullies

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