Talking with your kids regularly will help you identify signs of bullying.
Keeping an open flow of communication with your child, even in periods when bullying is not suspected, is very important. Constantly ask about your children’s day and encourage more descriptive answers than “it was OK.” Having a continual conversation with your children will make you more intuitive and help you identify when something is awry in your children’s daily life.
Adults need to take bullying seriously, which proves difficult because they often feel unprepared themselves as to what advice to give. Parents: you need to keep the conversation and your minds constantly open so your children can seek your help when needed. When your children confide in you about being picked on, teased or bullied, they need help. This is not the time to worry if they have problems tolerating “normal” amounts of teasing. Nor is it the time to say they “need to get along” or “fight back.” Self esteem will be affected if the bullying continues over a long period, which can easily alter children’s behavior.
What are steps to take if your child is in a bullying situation?
If it is happening at school, your first contact should be your children’s teacher or counselors. If your children are willing, you should include them. Often times, children who are bullies are themselves bullied at home. Again, check with the school about the best way to approach this problem. Approaching the bully’s parents in the school parking lot may only escalate the problem.
Speak to your children about their bullying situation. Maybe there are small measures you both can take to curtail the bully. For example, if the bully is after toys or electronic devices that your children bring to school, don’t allow these items any longer. Another good idea is to encourage your children to hang around friends that can be trusted. Walking home is always safer in groups and bullies might be deterred when other children are present.
It is also important to tell your children to stay calm when facing a bully. Bullies thrive on the reaction they get from their victims and any erratic show of emotions may worsen the situation. Be sure they know that it is brave to just walk away.