Bullying is a serious issue these days. Name calling, teasing, excluding children from play have escalated and kids have stopped being simply ‘mean’ and have started to take it to another level that borders a certain kind of abuse that can have long time damaging effects.
Mental abuse and bullying such as name calling, cruel mocking, picking on children who are unable to run fast or defend themselves, picking on children who are otherwise considered ‘different’ and physical bullying happen every day at classrooms and playgrounds. In my last article I spoke of what to do if your child is being bullied. It’s a sensitive and tricky time, one that requires you to act carefully and diligently to help your child manage his feelings and the outcome of the situation.
When my son often talks about what happens in school, during recess and other times, there are times often that I come across stories of children being bullied. I often use these examples to help make my son understand what he should do if he’s in a similar position and what he should do to help the child who is being bullied. It’s important that when you go through these scenarios that you help your child understand that as he gains courage and confidence that he doesn’t end up bullying another child. The playground, it seems rather unfortunately, is survival of the fittest. As much as you want your child being able to take care of himself, it is important that you make sure he doesn’t bully or make someone else feel ‘little’ in his quest to be strong.
Making friends, maintaining these friends is a complex process, one that changes every day and is complicated enough for us adults! We need to make sure we help our children understanding the changing dynamics of friendship and equip them with enough knowledge to help them respect their friends and themselves. None of us want our child to be a bully – sometimes though it happens. It maybe that he himself was bullied at one point and then takes standing up for himself too far, he maybe going through a difficult stage or sometimes it could be happening due to peer pressure. Whatever the reasons is, we as parents need to deal with it help our children understand that BULLYING IS A NO-NO and that we can help them come out of these situations.
It almost always starts with someone giving you a call and alerting you that your child is a bully. This can ofcourse be a teacher, head of department or a parents itself. We’ve broken down what you should do in each situation to help you manage the situation better.
So, you’ve got the dreaded call, your child maybe a bully – what should you do?
- Don’t Deny – We all understand that sometimes children tend to tease kids and ‘make up their own rules when playing games’. We also understand that these name calling can he hurtful. If the school or another parent calls you to tell you that your child is ‘bullying’ another child the first thing you need to do is to listen up and understand what exactly happened. Your first response may be to completely deny it (even if it’s to yourself). You know you’ve taught your child to be a good person and explained right from wrong, so it’s natural that you don’t identify your child is a bully. Nevertheless, listening up is important as is understanding the situation.
- Your next task is to talk it out with your child and ask for his “version”. If someone calls you up and let you know that your child is a bully, your correct response would be to listen to the situation and let the caller know that you will get back to him after speaking to your child. If it’s the school calling, you’d have to perhaps schedule a meeting and see what more the school needs to talk about.
So now you’ve been alerted that your child could possibly be bullying, here’s what you should do:
- Talk it with your child – it is extremely important that you don’t assume anything and that you constantly talk to your child. I say these in most of my articles, constantly talking to your child is extremely important. You will get to know the things that happen in your child’s life if you constantly keep in touch with your child.
- Remind your child that you wouldn’t get mad at what he says. – Sit down and have a chat with your child. Remind him first and foremost that you will always be there for him and you are simply interested in sorting out the situation and getting him away from trouble as much as possible. Tell them that the school or a parent has reported his aggressive behaviour, that you love them no matter what,
- Find out what caused your child to behave the way he did. Children often have a reason to act the way they do. You need to know the full story so that you will be equipped with enough knowledge to help your child deal with the situation.
- Get your child to explain what happened a few times. Prompt him with questions so you feel like you’ve got the complete picture. Children often leave out parts of the story naturally assuming that you know everything!
So you’ve found out that your child has actually bullied a child, this is what you should do:
- Explain to him that hurting someone’s feelings is not a nice thing to do and ultimately makes him a not-nice-person. Explain that bullying, whether its physical or verbal, causes pain to others. Let them know that name-calling, teasing, hitting, pushing, starting or spreading rumours are wrong and not acceptable behaviour.
- Let him know that peer pressure is not an excuse to being a bully. As much as the school grounds is survival of the fittest, this should never be an excuse. Go through scenarios and explain that this is not the sory of person you want your child to be. You would rather he not give into peer pressure.
- Find out if there is anything at home or elsewhere that is making him angry and behaving the way he does. Bullying and other aggressive behaviour often stems up when your child is going through something himself. You need to find the root cause of these to help your child in the long run.
- Role play – Role play helps your little one understand how hurtful bullying actually is and further will give examples of what good behaviour is and what other positive outcomes he could have obtained.
- Accept responsibility – Highlight that no matter how much you love them, their behaviour has to change and that you support the school’s punishment and will not tolerate this behaviour.
What not to do:
- Two wrongs don’t make a right – Today the bully. Tomorrow, the bullied. Children are not fixed in their roles. Depending on the situation, children can just as easily be the bully as they can the target. Don’t sympathize with your child. You need to be loving but firm and help your child understand that his misjudgement this once does not change the way you feel about him. Nevertheless, you must make sure that your child understands that his behaviour must change. Even though he may have been bullied before – two wrongs don’t make one right so help him understand that no matter how ‘light the bullying’ may seem, it is not acceptable.
Continuing talk to your child:
As I mentioned earlier, dynamics of friendship are constantly changing. Today’s situation rarely takes place tomorrow. It’s important to help your child through these changing times. Empower your child to build her skills for resolving conflicts and handling tough situations. Social and emotional learning includes self-awareness, self-management, resilience, social agility, and responsible decision-making. It’s a tough task, one that needs working everyday but one that needs doing.