Watching your child endure bullying and harassment from their peers is a difficult and painful experience for most parents. We want our children to be happy and healthy, and when they hurt, we hurt.
Whether they’re at school or just looking at Snapchat on their phones, it can be virtually impossible to try and intervene or attempt to stop bullying behavior. Although you can take steps to protect your children as much as possible by contacting other parents or appropriate school staff, you can’t always be at your child’s side to protect them. One thing you can do, however, is empower them to handle difficult situations when you’re not around.
It’s important to let your child talk, and not just to hear them talk, but to listen, pay attention, and ask questions. Make sure to set aside a quiet time for you and your child to calmly talk about the events of the day. Put out their favorite snack sit down and focus on them to find out how their day went. Be silent at times to encourage your child to be more forthcoming. Be patient, as your child may be ashamed, afraid, or embarrassed to talk to you about their experience being bullied. Reassure them that this is a safe place for them to share.
Ask open-ended questions to encourage your child to talk about their day. “What happened on the bus ride home today?” or “What did you do at recess?” “What friend did you sit with at lunch” “What was the best/worst part of your day?” Making time daily ( even 5-10minutes) for positive updates and uninterrupted talk allows children to feel more comfortable and more apt to share the harder things when they occur.
Make sure your child knows that it’s not their fault they are being bullied. Let them know that they don’t deserve what’s happened, and that everyone deserves to feel safe and respected. Reassure them that they are not alone. Your child should know that you are always there for them and that bullying should not be tolerated at school or any other activity.
Try to not criticize the way they handled the situation or downplay their experience or emotions as this may discourage them from sharing in the future. Instead work with them on a plan that they can use should this happen again.
Empower your child by teaching them to look at the color of their friend’s eyes. Looking at their bully in the eye in this same manner will help them look up so they can appear and feel more confident. Help them practice words and phrases that they can use when they feel intimidated that empower them and may deter the bully such as “I wont let you talk to me that way” or “Stop now that’s not okay!” By role playing and practicing these at home in a safe environment they will likely feel more ready and prepared to use them in real life situations.
Bullying is an issue that doesn’t just affect children, it also affects adults. Throughout their lives your child will experience difficult people and situations. By learning at a young age how to best handle conflict, they will have a confidence and skill set that will benefit them for life.
If you or your child require additional help coping with bullying or harassment, you should seek out professional assistance from a licensed, trained clinician.
Call my office today so we can set up an appointment to talk 705-791-9165 your first consult is always free.