HOW TO HANDLE BULLYING
What the parents should know
One of the best pieces of advice for parents on bullying is to be a good role model for their children on things like anger management, conflict resolution, etc.
Parents, siblings, and caregivers all serve as role models for children. From these role models, children will learn how to regulate their emotions, how to resolve conflicts and problems, etc. Depending on the family environment though, family members may not be ideal role models.
It’s been shown that several factors in the family environment are more likely to result in producing children that bully in school. Some of these factors include poor anger management, authoritarian parenting style, and Lack of Social Support from Parents and Parent Involvement
Traits that Increase the Chance that a Child Will Be a Victim of Bullying
In contrast to the traits described above for parents of bullies, the parents of victims often have the exact opposite traits. Families of victims have high levels of cohesion, less authoritarian parents, and lower levels of conflict.
In addition, there are a few other common traits amongst students that are bullied:
- Children of single parents or low socioeconomic status families are more likely to be bullied.
- Male victims often have overly close relationships with mothers.
- Female victims are likely to have mothers who withdraw love.
Children that both bully and are victims of bullying often have parents that display less warmth, are more overprotective, and provide inconsistent discipline and monitoring.
Here’s some advice for parents:
- Parents should make sure their children know the lines of communication are open, that they’re not being judged and that their parents are there for them no matter what.
- They should look out for significant changes in mood, behavior, physical appearance, etc as these are often indicative of a larger problem.
- Parents should be continually thinking about how they can support their child’s teacher and school (e.g., through volunteering, attending parent-teacher conferences, etc)
- If your child is playing a role in bullying, admit it and focus on what can be done to affect change.
- Are you inadvertently teaching your child aggressive behavior? If so, seeking help for yourself with anger management will benefit your child as well!
- This has been mentioned many times before in the media, but limiting your children’s access to violent video games, TV, etc can help.
- There’s a relation between children observing violence in the home and then becoming involved in violence in school. Ensure that your home is violence-free and consider seeking help if it’s not.
- How are problems solved in your house? If aggression is an accepted way of dealing with conflicts in your home, consider seeking help from a counselor to change that and learn new ways to resolve conflict.
How to Deal with Bullies
The first step is to be aware of what’s going on in your child’s life so you’re aware of the situation. If you suspect your child is being bullied, asking questions can help although you should be aware that children, especially older children, may require a bit more talking before they open up about the situation.
Here’s how to take control of the situation:
Tell school administrators:
Its important school administrators are made aware of the situation so they can intervene and monitor the situation. Follow-up with your child and the school regularly to ensure the situation is dealt with.
Resist suggestions to simply ignore the bully:
Ignoring the bully doesn’t work. It’s the responsibility of the student exhibiting bullying behaviors not to bully. The victim should not have to hide or endure the harassment.
Have your child participate in social activities:
It is important the victim not be bullied into isolation. Engaging in social activities and having close friends can help a child immensely – both in helping them develop pro-social behaviors and in offering some level of protection against the development of depression, anxiety, etc.
What the general public should know
All bullies have certain traits in common, specifically they:
- Like to control and dominate other people.
- Find it hard to empathize with others or see from other people’s perspectives
- Like to use others to get what they want
- Will rarely act out when adults are around – instead of choosing to wait for the right moment when the adults aren’t looking.
- View weaker kids are prey.
- Do not accept responsibility for their actions
- Lack foresight and are unconcerned with the consequences of their actions
- Tips on management
- Look for empirically validated school bullying programs.
- Classroom meetings can be used to discuss any topic affecting the class. For bullying, here are a few questions you may want to cover:
- Why is reporting bullying so important?
- What does a bullying incident look like?
- What should a student do when they see another student being picked on?
- Why are bullied students afraid to tell others?
- Why don’t bystanders report bully more often? What keeps bystanders from reporting?
- Schools and School Districts Should Provide Systems for Both In-person Bullying Reporting and Anonymous Bullying Reporting
- Encourage Bullying Bystanders to Report Bullying
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