Stop the Bullying – With Empowerment
Perhaps one of the toughest situations for a parent to be in… is to watch his/her child being the victim of bullying. This can be a terrifying experience because it leaves a parent feeling helpless.
It seems to be an epidemic. Children are being desensitized to violence and are participating in mean-spirited behavior. What social researchers have known for a long time is that when people get together in groups, they participate in behaviors that can be atypical for them as an individual and yet when part of a group they feel strength and camaraderie. This behavior leads to bullying and is detrimental to a child's psyche. It can have adverse effects that are lifelong.
What can you do as a parent of a child who is being bullied?
You have to ask yourself a question that will help you to be a better parent in general.
How do you perceive yourself as a listening agent for your child? Could you take your child aside and ask… Would you feel comfortable sharing your problems with mommy/daddy?
Could your child come and talk to you about anything and either:
1) Feel that he/she will be understood and validated.
2) He/she will get the needed help to help solve the problem.
Your child needs to know that he can come to you with any situation. If you suspect that your child is being bullied the most important thing that you can do is to be there for your child when he/she shares their fears and thoughts.
Does your child know how to assess and talk about feelings especially fears?
These are two very important questions because often time a child that is being bullied will fear retaliation and not share with his or her parents (or authority figures) that this behavior is going on.
That means you have to be present for your child and notice changes in his/her behavior.
It can feel humiliating and shameful to be picked on and to be afraid. This results in parents needing to be aware of changes in their child's behavior.
Most parents who have helped their child through a bullying experience say they saw some unusual behavior prior to figuring out what was going on. Their children seemed to act different. They lost their exuberance for life; they seemed timid, isolated or just disinterested in their typical day.
If your child develops these behaviors and doesn't want to go to school or day care or to the babysitter’s house and seems lethargic, sad, or angry he/she may be a victim of bullying.
How do you empower your child?
Brainstorm with your child as it can be very helpful in the two of you coming up with potential ideas to solve the bullying problem. Ask your child which idea seems to be the best place to start.
That may look like sharing with the teacher that the two children are having conflict. It may be going to the parents of the child who is bullying and seeing if you might be able to sit down and talk about the differences together. It may look like inviting the mean spirited child over to do something special. Or reporting to Facebook/Twitter that inappropriate threats are occurring.
There are lots of options for dealing with bullying. The important thing is working together with your child to find options to increase your child's feelings of empowerment to stop the bullying