We certainly hope that back to school does not mean back to bullying! Unfortunately being bullied at school is the reality for too many children. Last school year, school bullying made school a very unpleasant experience for our own little WeeMan. It is something we don’t enjoy hearing about, and would do anything we could to prevent it from occurring again. We thought we’d help all of you get a better grasp on school bullying and give you tips on how to prevent bullying, whether your child is the bullied or the bully.
When Your Child is the Bully
If your child has bullied someone, it’s important to help him build his skills so that he finds better ways of acting in the future. Punishing him by grounding him or taking away privileges may only encourage him to find ways to avoid being caught in the future. Instead, ask him to write about what happened or discuss it together:
- What was the sequence of events that happened?
- What influenced your actions?
- What will you do differently next time so this doesn’t happen again?
- What type of amends do you think you should make?
- How will you reconcile with the person you’ve hurt?
Struggling to answer these tough questions can help kids learn from their poor choices. While they may be tempted to blame others for their actions, the goal is for them to realize their own role in the situation and take responsibility for the results of their actions. Children who bully often have been bullied themselves.
When Your Child is Being Bullied
If your child comes to you distraught because of being bullied, listen and show compassion. Work to understand your child’s perspective on the situation without immediately trying to solve it. Make sure your child receives the message that you love him, believe in him, accept him and understand his feelings. This is far easier said than done especially in the heat of the moment. “What’s going on?” Keep asking questions until you feel you really understand. If you find out your child is being bullied, other steps you can take are:
- Help your child think through ways of getting away from the bully.
- Meet with your child’s teachers or counselor. Develop a plan for keeping your child safe, particularly during vulnerable times like lunch, recess and going to and from school.
- Find out your school’s anti-bullying policy.
- Contact police or school resource officer if the actions are criminal.
When Your Child is the Bystander
Children who watch another child get bullied are also affected by the bullying. They may not intervene on behalf of the victim because they are afraid or aren’t sure what to do. You can help your children think through these situations, feel empathy for the victim and discuss appropriate ways to help the victim. Developing the courage to stand up for victims isn’t easy. Children who are raised to show compassion to others make the world a better place for everyone. You play an important role in guiding your children to treat everyone with respect and dignity. Teaching children these values will help reduce bullying in schools. As parents, we do our best to express feelings when our children/grandchildren do things that could hurt someone’s feelings. If they learn to understand the effects on others emotions while incorporating them with their own feelings, they get a better grasp on proper behaviour that others are more keen to be around. WeeMan is a very passionate, emotional boy, and someone who will do everything in his power to make someone else feel better. With his struggles last year on expressing his emotions and handling his feelings of aggression and anger, he’s made huge progress and has a better understanding on how to handle difficult situations. Teach your child about bullying and help make a difference in all our children’s futures. Every parent can make a difference by simply teaching, so help us help our children have better, safer futures.
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