School starts in just a few weeks ... and it should be an exciting time for students and parents. But for young people who deal with bullies, heading back to school can be scary.
Jill Waggoner, a social worker both in a private practice and within some area community schools, promotes the “5 Top Things Parents Should Know” when talking to children about bullying.
Know signs and effects bullying can have on your child
Bullying can make children sad, lonely, or nervous, feel sick more than usual with headaches and stomach aches, not wanting to go to school, not eating or sleeping well, not doing things they usually enjoy, more easily upset/moodiness, start avoiding certain situations like taking the bus to school, have unexplainable cuts and bruises, have lower grades in school/school problems.
Children being bullied can feel like they are different, powerless, unpopular and/or alone.
Create a “daily check-in time” with your children
Listen to your child about whatever they want to talk about, listen without judgment. This time will increase your communication with your child and strengthen your relationship with your child. During this time, you will learn about your child's friends, interests, problems, and increase chances that they will discuss any bullying problems with you.
Most children DON'T want to tell parents they're being bullied
Why? Because bullying can make a child feel weak and helpless, like they can't handle their own problems. Also, they don't want to be seen as a tattletale, they fear backlash for telling that they are being bullied.
Parents: Reassure your child the bullying is not their fault. Encourage them to talk about the bullying, whether it's to you or another trusted adult. Praise your child for being brave enough to talk about the bullying. Let them know that they are not alone and you can work out the problem together.
Develop plan to deal with bullying
Practice with your child not showing emotions to the bully. Bullies thrive on having control over others emotions. Practice with your child counting to 10, taking deep breaths, walking away, ignoring and using humor as ways to deal with the bully.
Role-play with your child saying "no" to the bully and acting confident. Discuss using the buddy method with your child, staying away where the bully usually is, and staying near a supervising adult when the bullying is likely to occur.
If none of these strategies work, have your child if possible, discuss problem with their teacher, school counselor/social worker for intervention. If bullying continues, have your child ask to make a bully report and make as many as it takes to get the bullying to stop. The parent may need to contact the school themselves if their child doesn't feel comfortable to these things.
Remember, your child deserves to feel safe at school and most schools have anti-bullying policies/procedures to deal with students who are bullying.
Get your child involved in groups that will support/develop your child's interests. Be aware if your child is being cyberbullied.
Avoid these mistakes
- Never tell your child to ignore bullying
- Don't blame your child for being bullied. No one deserves to be bullied!
- Don't tell your child to physically retaliate and fight back against the bully
- Don't contact the parents of the child doing the bullying or confront the bully yourself. It’s the school’s to act as mediators.
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