No parent wants to hear that his or her child has become the victim of a bully, but it doesn’t mean that the bullying has to continue. There are many things that Long Island parents can do to combat bullying – whether it’s around your neighborhood, at school, or online. Here are five great tips for dealing with bullies:
- Tip #1: Learn the Signs
Many children may feel embarrassed about being a bully’s target, or they may fear repercussions if they look for help, so it’s important to be able to identify the signs that your child is in trouble. Signs may be as subtle as a change in your child’s mood, behavior, personality, or eating habits; or as obvious as bruises, cuts, or unexplained injuries. Perhaps your child seems withdrawn from activities they usually enjoy, or they seem to be losing personal items such as money, electronics, or toys. If you instinctively feel something is ‘off’, chances are – it probably is. You know your child best.
- Tip #2: Uncover the Situation
Once you have a hunch that bullying is going on; learn as much about the situation as possible. Open the lines of communication with your child, and let them know that you are looking to help them. Many kids may fear things worsening if they “tattle”, so it’s important to let your child know you’re looking out for their best interest. It’s very common to react with anger, but try to refrain from reacting immediately. If your child asks you not to go to the principal, teacher, or other child’s parents, try to understand where they are coming from. This is a great source of stress for him or her, and it’s important that however you may choose to address the situation, that they fully understand it.
- Tip #3: Determine the Cause
Many times children are bullied for things out of their control, such as their appearance, family life, or sexual orientation. In situations such as these, it’s important to remind your child that the bully is insecure about him or herself and is using bullying as a method to try and build confidence. On the other hand, if you find out your child is being bullied for something that can be prevented, such as bringing expensive toys or electronics to school or certain things they are posting to a social networking site, it may be best to discuss slight changes that can be made to prevent a bully lashing out.
- Tip #4: Encourage Positive Changes
Let your child know that they do not have to let a bully’s behavior affect them. Discuss positive ways to address negative situations, such as focusing on all the good things in your child’s life – maybe it’s grades, friends, or supportive family. Remind them that bullies tend to target people they are jealous of for one reason or another, and that if your child refuses to react to this behavior, the bully will grow tired and move on. If your child has a good friend at school, encourage them to use the buddy system. It is easier for a bully to pick on someone when they’re alone, but there is strength in numbers; and friends should always stick up for one another.
- Tip #5: Intervene When Necessary
Although bullies sometimes will get bored and lay off eventually, that doesn’t mean it is always the case. Even if your child claims the bullying has stopped or improved, that doesn’t mean your child is no longer being affected. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage your child to come to you with concerns and updates. Speak to other parents in the area to see if their child has had similar issues, or go to the bully’s parents to see if they are even aware of their child’s behavior. If the bullying is happening at school, talk to teachers or school officials to have them keep an extra eye on this behavior when you’re unable to.
Working with your child as a team is the best way to combat bullying and encourage a positive environment. Be sure to explore Your Local Kid’s parent resources page in Nassau County and Suffolk County for more helpful links and information.