Is My Child Being Bullied?
When kids are bullied, there can be a wide range of negative consequences. Bullied children may develop behavioral issues of their own and in turn, start to bully other children or take it out on themselves in one way or another. As a parent, this is something that you should be aware of, but first, you need to ask yourself this:
What is Bullying?
According to StopBullying.gov, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” They continue to state that the behavior either is repeated or has the potential to be repeated.
However, while bullying is defined as occurring between school-aged children here, the behavior can continue into adulthood and the workplace and for that reason, it’s imperative that everyone plays a part in ending bullying at all ages and levels.
What do they mean by an imbalance of power? Often that power is sheer physical strength. The bully may be physically larger or stronger than the person who is the target. This is the stereotype where the bigger (usually dumber) kid in movies such as A Christmas Story, threaten the smaller kid unless they give up their lunch money.
Yet size and strength aren’t the only ways kids can bully one another. One of the most common forms of bullying today is “cyber-bullying,” or harassing someone online. The imbalance of power in this type of situation is about distributing information – often misinformation – that would embarrass the kid being bullied. In the old days, this bullying was done by cliques at school and in person, but today it can be managed away from other kids via texts and social media.
3 Types of Bullying
- Verbal bullying: when one person says (or writes) things about another. This could be as simple as teasing and name-calling or it could be comments that are far more severe, such as something sexual in nature or blatant threats.
- Social bullying: harming another person’s reputation or relationships. This can include excluding someone, gossiping and spreading rumors with the intent to purposefully embarrass someone.
- Physical Bullying: harming another’s body or possessions. This is the traditional schoolyard fare where someone actually strikes or kicks another. It also includes any other unwelcome physical contact including tripping another, spitting on someone, and taking or breaking their possessions.
How Do We Stop Bullying?
First of all, it’s important to have zero tolerance for behavior that resembles any of these three. It isn’t just kids being kids, but putting an end to this problem isn’t as simple as an automatic school suspension of the kids causing the problems. That has actually proven ineffective.
You also need to keep in mind that both bullies and their victims — including bystanders — suffer when the behavior is allowed to continue. By showing that bullying is unacceptable, adults and other kids can actually stop the behavior.
You need to teach your kids to be respectful of all the people involved when dealing with bullying behavior. It’s easy for an adult to demonstrate bullying behavior by demanding answers from children or making threats. Remember, as an adult, you’re in a position of power.
Tap into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) to remember what it feels like to be bullied. It’ll help guide you to separate the children and treat each as an individual. You can gather information and get to the truth, but don’t make snap judgments or expect kids to tell you the entire story while they’re standing in front of the person terrorizing them or even their own friends.
What Do I Tell My Child Who Has Been Bullied?
Always reassure your children. Let them know it’s not their fault. Also let them know that you’ll work with them to stop the bullying behavior. Encourage your children to talk to you about what’s happening and how they feel about it.
Also teach your children to tap into their IGS. Their IGS can help them to better understand others — even someone who might be making their lives miserable. Often kids who bully others are doing it because they themselves are being bullied. They might be suffering from some stress at home or they might be new and are trying to fit in. This doesn’t make it right, but it can help your son or daughter to understand that the behavior is more about the troublemaker than about your children.
Finally, help your children learn what to do to take care of themselves if they’re bullied again. This doesn’t mean teaching them how to fight back either verbally or physically. Instead, let them know there are safe places to go and adults they can turn to. Roleplay with them – use different responses such as how to leave the scene and how to get help as well as support from a friend or an adult.
Adults and kids must work together to support one another and prevent bullying. People need to learn to respect other people who are different from them. No one has to be exactly like any other human being — that would be an unrealistic goal, but people can learn to be kind to one another and honor their differences. When everyone learns to do this, not only will you see an end to bullying behavior in your children, but in adults as well.
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