As a parent I know that one of the hardest things is watching your child struggle with being bullied. I was bullied several times a week as a child and recently helped my daughter handle a bullying situation. Bullying is a tough topic to tackle for even the most of active parents, which is why I address the topic head on at my Pro Martial Arts franchises. At our dojos we include an anti-bullying/predator prevention curriculum for children and often hold free anti-bullying seminars for parents. These are my suggestions on ways to help your child deal with bullying and how to be a “bully-proof” parent.
1. Boost your kid's self esteem! The number one weapon a child can have is high self-esteem and a good self-concept. These will help them be successful in all aspects of their life. Parents can assist with this process by enrolling their children in extracurricular activities. I believe that confidence comes from accomplishment. While things like athletics and Karate are great, any activity where the child can experience a victory will work. Provide your child with positive reinforcement for anything that brings them joy.
2. Hey Mom, what’s a bully? Children can be unaware that they are being bullied. There are different types of bullying, the main three being physiological, physical and cyber. Parents need to explain these to their children and help them understand them.
3. Communication is key. Children need to feel comfortable telling their parents what is happening in their lives without fear of getting in trouble. Make the home a safe haven for communication. Start simply by asking how their day at school was during the car ride home. Know who your child’s friends are. Make sure they have an adult at school that they like and trust, someone they would feel at ease talking to if something were to happen at school. The earlier you communicate like this with you child the more comfortable they will feel about coming to you with their problems.
4. Be dialed in as a parent. Bullying is no longer limited to the playground. Cell phones and computers have become the new means for bullies to target their victims. I recommend using tools like My Mobile Watch Dog and other parental controls to monitor children’s cell phone and computer activity.
5. Show no fear. If your child is being bullied, how you deal with the situation may vary, but one thing should remain consistent. Your child needs your support as a parent. They need to know that you believe them and have their back. Facing a bully can be a hard and scary thing for a child, they need to feel safe and supported in doing this. Confronting bullies is an opportunity for children to face their fears and learn to stand up for themselves and become assertive.
What to watch for: Some signs that your child may be having problems with bullying may include: being afraid to go to school, negative self talk, a drop in grades and sudden change in opinion about a specific person.