Children are born innocent. They least expect the world to be cruel, especially when they’re born into your loving and protective care. But the truth is as they grow up, they’ll go to school, or interact with their peers and there might be some kids who might not be as friendly as you hope they will.
Bullying is defined as "using strength or influence to intimidate (threaten) someone and force them into doing something.” For example, a bigger kid may force your child to give up his toys by threatening to beat him, or it could be as simple as telling your kid that no one will be their friend if he doesn’t give in to the bully’s demands. Bullying is not always based on physical strength - it also depends on a certain emotional basis. Either way, bullying is hurtful, and we really hope that your child can stay safe from it.
But in the event that you suspect your child is being bullied, there are ways you can help him or her deal with it:
Sometimes, your kids may not tell you that they are being bullied and sometimes they may come cry to you about it. Either way, supporting them as well as watching out for some signs is important. There are some common signs that you can look out for when it comes to your child being bullied:
Watch if your child’s eating and sleeping habits have changed a lot. Sometimes, the stress of bullying can affect your child’s appetite and sleep too.
Your child may also be moodier than they usually tend to be - they may react intensely or startle easily.
You can ask them about it and tell them that you’ll always try to help. Let them understand that talking to people about it is important and that they should let you know if someone is picking on them.
Helping your child cope
If your child mentions their experiences being bullied, make sure to take your time to react, and listen carefully and attentively. Also offer them some comfort and affection to soothe them.
You can try the following tips to make sure that your child feels supported and can be more prepared:
1. A lot of kids blame themselves for their experiences, so they may be hesitant to talk to you about it. When they do tell you about it, let them know that they did the right thing by talking to you about it, and that it is not their fault. Tell them that what their bully is doing is wrong, and they are not wrong in this situation.
2. Let someone at the school know about it. Since bullying usually happens in school, you should ideally have a private talk with the class teacher, and ask them to simply keep an eye on your little one. Let them know that your little one does not want to invite attention and that the school should avoid bringing it up during class. The key is to simply ask the teacher to keep an eye on the kids during school hours so that you can make sure your child is not unprotected.
3. If your child says that talking to the school will backfire, don’t ignore their warning. Sometimes, bullies may only focus more attention on your child once they know that your child has complained. Moreover, your child may also feel like they cannot trust you if you tell someone else after telling them you wouldn’t.
4. Prepare your child for the situation. Children tend to react when bullied, and this is what the bully looks for. If your child can pretend to shrug off the bullying, the bullies will eventually leave them alone. Tell your child to breathe deep and count from 10 to 1 in their head before reacting to a bully. Sure, it may only make a small difference at first, but the truth is, it will give your child some confidence as they will feel equipped to handle the bully.
5. Encourage your child to make friends with other children, so that they are not left alone too often. Bullies tend to look for children who are not accompanied by others.
6. You can, if you feel the need, also schedule a meeting with the parents of the other kid, with a school authority present - like a teacher or counselor - so that they can mediate. It is important to let other parents know that their kids may be bullies, because they might not be aware of it to begin with.
You can’t protect your child from everything, of course. And every bully is a different type of bully, so the same tactics may not work every time. Make sure to be patient with your child and lend them a supportive ear so that they can at least feel better when they talk to you about it.
Bullying can have emotional consequences on your child, so make sure you let your child know that you love them. Give them confidence boosts every once in a while by complimenting them or their work, or spend time with them doing something they enjoy. It can help a child to feel safe and loved, and this will definitely help them cope better with bullying.
We hope this helps and that your kid does not have the experience of bullying. Have you had to deal with these situations? What worked for you and your child?