Bullying isn’t going anywhere. As a matter of fact, I think it’s only getting worse with technology. Trying to end bullying is near impossible. So let’s teach our children how to handle the inevitable bullying coming their way.
There are always going to be Bullies.
If you ask your grandparents if they had bullies I bet their answer would be Yes. Your parents too. You probably know a few bullies yourself. Heck maybe you are a bully yourself. Point being, bullies aren’t going anywhere. They’ve always been around and always will be.
With technology these days there are even more ways to bully than ever before. Not to mention, people are extremely “brave” behind a computer screen. The anonymity involved with modern-day technology offers the opportunity to be a bully now more than ever.
One in Five students reports being bullied and 41% of those students reporting to have been bullied believe that it will happen again. School-based bully prevention programs decrease bullying by 25%. Although prevention programs seem to be working they are not 100% bully-proof. Whether we like it or not, bullies are here to stay.
What effect does Bullying have on our Kids?
Bullying plays a huge role on our kid's upbringings. Children who experience bullying have a greater risk for many different mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school.
There is an obvious correlation between bullying and suicidal-related behaviors however the false notion that suicide is always the outcome of bullying has dangerous potential of normalizing a suicidal response to bullying.
Clearly, our children are at risk of not only being bullied but also becoming the bully as peer pressure to join in or even being a bystander has also proven to be strenuous on our children's mental health and behavior.
How can we prep our children for bullying?
First comes first, as a parent it’s important to recognize when our children our being bullied. This can look many different ways but oftentimes appears in a constant state of “not feeling good”, worries or fears, and not wanting to go to school. It is completely normal for the child to sustain from things that are causing stress.
Communication is key! For best results, it’s important to start good communication skills before the school years begin and before bullying becomes an issue. Ask about their social lives, which friends they enjoy hanging out with the most, and which the least.
It’s super easy as a parent to overact and get angry when we find out someone is being mean to our child. But what our children really need is just an ear to listen to, reassure them, and support them.
Another great way to prep our children for the inevitable “mean girl/boy” moments is to teach confidence, body positivity, role-play the “what if” situations, and praise progress. When noticing any child standing up to a bully point it out to your child so they can someday learn and copy a similar response.
How to deal with a bully?
It’s important to note that if your child shows that he/she can’t be bothered, a bully will usually move on. Bullies feed off of power and control and their main goal is to hurt people in order to deal with their own lack of self-esteem.
Step #1. Don’t let the bully make you feel bad. If someone says anything negative about you say one or two more positive things about yourself to yourself.
Step #2. Do not reward the bully with tears. That’s the bully's ultimate goal and tears give the bully power. I’m not saying it's wrong to cry but just try not to do it in front of the bully. Save those tears for a safe space such as with friends or family. As a matter of fact, one great way to put an end to the bully is to agree with the bully… even if you don’t.
Example: The bully calls you dumb for not getting the best grade on your test. Respond with something like “you are right, I should have studied more. Lesson learned” and walk away with confidence.
Step #3. Use Humor. Laugh and walk away, disarm the bully from his/her own ammo.
Step #4. The most important step of all, the well-known Golden Rule…treat others as you would like to be treated. Shame on them, not shame on you!
With all of this being said, it is never acceptable for a child to be mistreated and if it continues or progresses further action is needed. Getting the school involved. Talking to other parents. etc. However, helping your child deal with the inevitable bully situation will help build the confidence needed to handle it with grace.
Let’s start putting just as much effort into teaching our children how to handle being bullied as we are trying to stop the bullying… if not More!