Bullying seems more widespread now than ever. We see it happening all day on reality TV shows (yes, those Housewives can certainly be bullies) and even sitcoms like Parks and Recreation (Poor Jerry!). More importantly, bullying takes place in schools the most.
Bullies act out their own personal frustrations on those they deem weaker. Whether it's verbal, physical, or through social media, bullying can be done in multiple ways.
As a parent, none us want our children to become the bully or the bullied. All we ask is that our children are safe and happy when they're not around our care. Whether you suspect your child is being bullied during recess or they has outright told you they're being picked on, these are some steps to take both for a child and the parent.
10 FIRST THINGS FIRST: HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOUR CHILD HAS A BULLY
There are a million things to remember as a parent, but one of the most important is to keep that line of communication open. You want your little one to be able to talk to you about uncomfortable times.
Every day after school, ask them how their day was. Who did they eat lunch with? Who did they play with during recess? Notice their body language and the names they drop. Be soft and open so that if something has happened at school, they feel comfortable coming to you.
9 TEACH CONFIDENCE
Confidence is key. Whether they're being bullied or not, if you child has confidence, they'll be able to get through the bad times with grace. Working Mother says to teach children resilience. Even when they fail or fall, they have to get up and try again. Give them words of encouragement and teach them self-love. Even in their darkest days or if someone is picking on them at school, confidence is key and they'll learn not to accept this person's threats.
8 IGNORE THIS BAD EGG AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Making friends as an adult can be incredibly hard, but making friends as a kid is much easier than you think. Kids are typically in new classrooms every year, which means they'll meet new students and expand their friend group.
If they have a group of mean kids picking on them — and them alone — on the playground, encourage them to find a new friend to stick by on their time outside of the classroom.
7 SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH FRIENDS AND GOOD PEOPLE WHILE ON THE PLAYGROUND
Bullies tend to single a person out. It's not every day you see one person bullying a group of 10. They like to go after someone who doesn't seem to have the best backup. Because of this, Voice of Play encourages your little one to surround themselves with a good core group of friends. Even if their besties don't have the same play hour as them, find a new group to be with. It's hard for a bully to approach a kid they're picking on when they're constantly surrounded by friends and having a nice time.
6 LISTEN TO THEM WITHOUT JUDGEMENT OR ANGER
There are many different kinds of parenting styles out there — and all should be respected. However, if your child has the courage to tell you what's happening to them at school, listen quietly and make them feel heard.
If you jump the gun and start acting upset (i.e. crying) or angry (i.e. screaming and threatening someone), you child is going to be scared off and nervous to tell you anything more. React in a calm manner and let them know their voice is heard and that they're safe.
5 HAVE THEM REACT WITH HUMOR
One way to stand up to a bully is to react with humor. Teach your child that everything that bully is saying is false and it shows more about their own personality than your child's. The Center for Parenting Education suggests kids acting with humor as a way of coping. Doing so can "neutralize the torment" while making your child feel strong.
For example, if the bully makes fun of your child's appearance, they can act unbothered by saying "And? Your point is?" Or if they're told they smell, your child can say "So what?" It plays off the concept "I am rubber, you are glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you."
4 GET THE SCHOOL OR THE BULLY'S PARENTS INVOLVED
Now there are some parents out there who don't want to get the school or the bully's parents involved because they don't want to stir up any drama or have the bully act even more aggressive.
However, it really is for the best. Just as a parent should have open communication with their child, the same needs to be done for their school's principal and the bully's parents. Most schools have a strict no-bullying policy and should be taken very seriously.
3 CREATE A PLAN WITH YOUR CHILD
Children will feel safer and more confident when they know their parents have their back and are supported (even if they're not physically there). The North Dakota State University explains that every parent and their child should come up with a plan together. Ignoring the bully or fighting back never solves anything. Instead, teach your child to be assertive, strong, and confident.
2 YOU CAN LEARN A LOT BY TALKING TO TEACHERS
As a parent, you may be stunned to learn that your child is being bullied, but as a teacher, they're probably not surprised. Teachers see everything. They pick up on the personality traits and quirks of each student. They know who the bad eggs are and who the good eggs are. If you suspect your child is being bullied, set up a meeting with their teacher to talk about it. What are their thoughts on the situation and where is it coming from?
1 IF ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY: GET A CAMERA
Now, this may seem aggressive or overbearing, but if teachers, the school's principal, and the bully's parents aren't believing you or your child, it's time to step it up. You can add a small recorder in your child's backpack or pocket to see what really goes on in a day. If there is anything to worry about or concrete evidence exhibiting bullying, you can take that to school for further proof to nip this before it gets out of hand.