Bullying is all too common in modern society. If you learn that your child is being bullied, you can be certain that he or she is not alone in this situation, and it is important to learn how to deal with bullies.
According to the National Education Association:
- One out of every seven students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
- 56% of students have witnessed bullying, in some form, at school.
- 15% of school absenteeism is related to bullying — and one out of 10 high school dropouts does so because of bullying.
It is critical that we, as parents and as a society, figure out what to do to stop bullying. Not only does it hurt children in the short term and cause negative effects that linger into adulthood — but as many as 75% of school shootings have been linked to bullying.*
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is more than occasional teasing on the soccer field. It can be physical, verbal, cyber bullying, or even relational — relational bullying meaning affecting a child’s relationships by shutting him or her out of a group. Bullying happens repeatedly, and it is clearly an unwanted and dangerous behavior. It can stifle healthy emotional development and/or lead to Depression or Anxiety in the victim.
Bullies might taunt others because they need to feel power over another who is seemingly weaker or different; they do it to increase their own power or status in a social group. They may do it to get attention. Sometimes children or teens bully because violent behavior is what they see at home or among adults they admire. In short, bullying may be all they know.
What Do I Do If My Child Tells Me About Bullying?
Kids may be afraid to come to a parent and tell them they have been bullied. They may be ashamed or embarrassed, or they may fear that their parents will be upset or disappointed; fear of parents’ taking action and more bullying as a result is also a very real concern. Sometimes, children or teens may feel they have done something wrong, or they may believe it’s their fault; they believe they are somehow “different,” and they have brought the bullying on themselves.
Creating a safe environment for your child to talk to you is vital, not only for a conversation about bullying, but for the parent-child relationship, in general. Praise your child for being brave enough to say something to you. Recognize the difficulty of this topic. Reassure your child that he or she is not at fault and that he is not the only person in the world to be bullied. Educate yourself about how to deal with bullies, and be prepared to talk with your child about this very serious issue.
Take reports of bullying seriously, but not dramatically. Don’t overreact or become angry or emotional — this may be the reaction your child feared, and they may be less likely to talk to you again. At the same time, be sure to express compassion. Telling him or her to “tough it out” is also not the answer.
How Can I Help End the Bullying?
Most of the time, bullies taunt just to get a reaction — it makes them feel powerful. One of the best ways to get the bully to stop is to deprive them of that reaction. Neither bullying nor fighting back is the solution; it simply gives the bully what he wants — a reaction.
Instead, practice the following tactics on how to deal with bullies:
Avoiding the bully is very effective, but it is not always possible. Skipping school, for example, is not a viable solution, as the bully is still in control. However, taking another route to class might be a possibility. Or, if the bully is after lunch money, start bringing a sandwich instead.
Ignoring the bully is a deterrent because the bully doesn’t get the reaction and the power they want. This can be an effective, but difficult, solution. Help your child practice simply walking away, avoiding eye contact, and pretending they don’t even see or hear the bully. Teach her ways to control visible reactions such as crying or appearing insecure; it’s perfectly fine to have emotional reactions, just not to show them to the bully.
Safety in numbers. Physical bullying in particular often happens when the victim is alone. Teach your child to hang out with others, or walk to class with a buddy or two, in order to avoid being alone and vulnerable.
Talk about it. No matter what the bully says, teach your child to talk to an adult. Teachers, counselors, coaches, lunchroom personnel, and other adults can help defuse situations of bullying. As a parent, you may need to step in and talk to teachers or principals yourself, and even perhaps talk to the bully’s parents with a mediator such as a school counselor present.
Stand tall. Bullies gravitate toward people they perceive as weaker, which often means children who lack confidence or have low self-esteem. If this applies to your child, help them build their self-esteem. You can do this by reinforcing their positive traits yourself, as a parent, and/or seeking professional counseling to help your child develop the tools to believe in their own self-worth and project more positive energy. This in itself may deter bullies.
Brain Changers Can Help:
If you and your child need help with self-confidence or other methods of combating bullying, Brain Changers can help you stand tall and learn how to deal with bullies. We offer Holistic Medicine interventions such as Neurofeedback and Counseling services to assist children, teens, and adults gain increased self-confidence, enhanced social and academic/work performance, and improved overall physical, emotional, and Spiritual health.
Call Today to schedule an appointment!