The topic of bullying has been on everyone’s mind for a while now and for a good reason too:
Bullying has the potential to destroy lives.
In fact it HAS destroyed many lives, with some kids unable to cope with the negative, soul-crushing behavior.
Now thankfully my children have never been subjected to it so far but that doesn’t mean they are immune to bullying in the future. No one, not even adults, can confidently predict that their child will pass through life unscathed by the consequences of bullying.
So what exactly is bullying?
Out of all the definition for bullying my favorite is the one used for Australian schools. It says:
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm.
It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).
Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders.
Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying. Bullying does not include mutual disagreements or not liking someone or one-off acts of meanness, intimidation or aggression.
BULLYING CAN OCCUR IN LOTS OF DIFFERENT FORMS:
This is usually the most obvious form of bullying whereby a victim if kicked, punched, hit, spat on or pushed around. (Please note this is a CRIME – Assault and Battery and should be immediately addressed).
This includes cruel teasing, name-calling, derogatory remarks and being made fun of in a hurtful, negative way.
This includes spreading nasty rumors or lies and playing mind games that make the victim feel excluded and ostracized.
This includes being intentionally left out or not allowed to join a group.
So what can you do to help prevent your child from being bullied?
This post is for moms who want to equip their children with tools that will hopefully help them should they ever face bullying in the future.
I honestly think that in the case of bullying, prevention is better than the cure. Indeed I would prefer to give some thought NOW as to how I can potentially help my kids deal with bullying rather than discover later that they were subjected to it and I failed to give them the right tools to deal with it.
Here are a few tips that your child or teen can use today to help protect them from bullying.
1) Teach them to recognize the signs of bullying.
Read to them the definition above and make sure they clearly understand the difference between bullying and a little feud with someone they may not like (THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!)
Bullies often don’t realize they are causing harm. They may think their teasing is funny or innocent, when in fact, the victim feels like dying on the inside. Teach them that WORDS HURT.
2) Teach your child to speak up.
There are often many bystanders (innocent kids and teens) who witness bullying firsthand and don’t do a thing about it. They don’t want to rock the boat or maybe they don’t know what they can do to stop it.
Help your child recognize that if they are standing by and say NOTHING, then they are giving more power to the bully who confuses their silence with acceptance (not the same thing!).
3) Make them watch the following video!
This clip was played to my son’s class by his teacher and it shares one fabulous tip on how to deal with bullies.
4) Teach your child the value of having thick skin.
I have written about the concept of having thick skin before but it can take time for younger children to learn to develop this skill of resilience. You can help steer them away from feeling over sensitive about things in everyday life by reminding them of the following facts:
– It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you; it only matters what YOU think of yourself.
– You don’t need other people’s validation or approval.
– Your value is not determined by others.
– We are all uniquely different and that’s what makes us special.
– Do what is best for you and not for other people.
– We should all walk to the beat of our own drum.
– Be a leader and not a sheep or follower.
5) Let your child know they are NEVER, EVER alone.
The biggest problem with bullying is that it is often a silent pain that children don’t share with others. You may think “of course my child knows they can come to me if they have a problem” while the truth is:
a) Your child may not even recognize bullying for what it is,
b) They may not want to worry you with their problems or
c) For whatever random reason they opt not to disclose it to you.
Don’t assume your child will tell you if someone is giving them grief at school or anywhere else in their life. Instead actively pull them aside and say:
“Hey, this is what bullying is and if someone does this to you, please come and tell me. I won’t do anything if you don’t want me to say or do something BUT if you need me to listen, I will listen. If you need any help, I am ALWAYS...(click here to continue reading)