In recent years, the issue of bullying has forced its way into the public eye. Parents, teachers, and administrators must mediate between bullies and their victims throughout every level of education, from kindergarten to high school.
Whether it’s physical bullying, cyber bullying, or verbal bullying, know that there is a solution for victims. The key is opening and maintaining a line of dialogue with your child. In an article published on the family site Care.com, Dr. Joel Haber, author of “Bullyproof Your Child for Life”, writes that being able to ask your child if something has changed is vital. While you won’t always get a direct answer, it’s important to let your child know you’re aware that something is amiss.
If you cannot get to the bottom of the situation with your child directly, be aware that he or she may talk about the bullying with someone else, such as a friend or sibling. When you have an understanding of what is going on, remember to keep calm. Haber notes, “If you become very angry or distressed, your child will feel overwhelmed — if his parent can’t handle this, how can he?”
As soon as you understand how the bullying occurs, create a plan to deal with it. Let your child play an active role here, otherwise they may feel as if the situation has spun out of their control. Try speaking with the school, the bully’s parents, teachers; all can help control the situation. After being picked on, targets of bullying frequently have low self-esteem; consider devising a plan that involves making new friends by joining new sports teams or going to a different playground.
While it may seem extreme, if the situation has you fearing for your child’s safety, Haber suggests police involvement. “They probably won’t put the bully in jail, but they can monitor the situation through (an increased) presence in your neighborhood and help you obtain a restraining order,” he says in the article.
No matter the route you choose, it’s crucial to not let the bullying continue. Through clear and constructive conversation, you can help your child live a bully-free lifestyle.