I remember the day my (then) five-year-old daughter came home to tell my husband and me that the little boy who had asked her out was bullying her. I had been bullied as a kid, so I immediately got into action.
Not realizing how it had affected me then, I learned much later into adulthood how much what I experienced had to do with my self-esteem. So much, that it also made a huge difference in many aspects of my life; relationships, aspirations, etc.
So, I advocated for my child as much as I could. When we got the solution that we wanted for our daughter, I decided to share what I have learned with other parents.
Because I was flabbergasted about how much information parents like myself lacked about bullying.
I thought I knew it all, but as I navigated my search for a solution, I had to overcome hurdles that schools themselves have to jump over to provide corrective action to the bully and to make bullying stop.
One of the things I discovered is that schools have their own limitations when it comes to bullying issues and parents are not aware of this reality. This is why some parents also become angry and defensive with schools when seeking solutions.
Because I learned so much, I created the Diversity & Anti-Bullying Academy for parents.
Here are some tips I practice and teach to my parents and students regarding bullying.
1.Define it. We (parents) must teach our kids how to define bullying v. teasing. Only 20%-30% of victims of bullying report it. We must improve this percentage.
2.Four Types Of Bullying. Knowing the four types of bullying (physical, social, verbal and cyber bullying) are a must because if we all know what they are and how to define them, we will be able to learn how to prevent it and stop it.
3.Recognize Bullying Behaviors. There are several types of bullying behaviors and knowing them in detail can help you use certain keywords when reporting bullying. It also helps recognize if your child is a bully so that you can help him/her stop.
4.Report it! You have no idea how many parents tell me that their child was bullied and didn’t make an official complaint or report until things got really bad. You MUST report AND keep a log about each situation no matter what.
Because you must build a pattern of bullying behavior, especially if you know that the bully won’t stop. So many parents come to me for guidance filled with despair and anger at teachers or principals for not stopping the bully.
However, principals and teachers don’t find out about any bullying going on unless it’s reported. A lot of parents tell me that it’s unbelievable for the teacher not to notice bullying happening right there in the classroom with the teacher present.
Therefore, parents are under the assumption that reporting is not needed because witnesses were present. This is a whole other topic, but classrooms full of people is the most common place where bullying happens.
5.Work Together. Become a team with the school. Administrators (principals and other executive level leaders) love it when the parents provide suggestions to solutions. They want to please parents because their focus is to have a happy community where children can learn. And by the way, they DO listen to kids’ proposals for solutions as well.
6.Help Your Child. Some parents hate to admit when they find out their child is the perpetrator of causing pain upon others. But, it must be acknowledged in order to help the child as well as the victim.
One way to teach children to not bully is to show them how the victim is negatively affected. You can do this by simply having conversations about what the victim must feel. The more descriptive you are with an example and if it hits home, the more likely any child will feel empathy and understand that what was done was wrong.
a.Example: when I was a child in elementary school, I was always picked last to play because I was the smallest person. I also could not run as fast as others. But when I played, I gave it my all! But giving it my all was not good enough for them. I hated when the teacher/P.E. instructor would tell one of the teams that I would be one of their teammates. Everyone would say things like, “oh great! We’re going to lose” or “ugh!” as they rolled their eyes. During play, they’d be sure to be rough with me as a way to punish me. What they didn’t understand was that I’d try to get bigger to show them I was strong. But my body was just not built to gain weight no matter what I did.
If your child is the victim, the best thing you can do is to involve them with creating a solution. They should also be surrounded with friends who will show them love and support.
Ensure them that they did nothing to deserve being targeted. Tell them that they are worth fighting for because kids who never have an up-stander eventually start to believe that they are the cause of their own demise.
They also start to loathe themselves for attracting negativity. These strong emotions can lead to worse situations to include bullycide.
Lastly, get them professional counseling if needed. It’s actually more affordable than you might think. I interviewed Holly Navarrete, a psychotherapist who explained pricing very well (watch the interview here). I also wrote, “3 Truths About Counseling” which covers some misconceptions about therapy.
Remember, by giving a personal example that touches a child on a personal level, they learn to have empathy and how their actions affect others. They are also more likely to think about how others feel about the way he/she treats them and how that can hurt them the way your own bullying experiences have hurt you.
There are so many other
aspects of bullying that can be taught such as stereotypes used to justify bullying, online safety, embracing diversity, education about people who have disabilities and much more.
However, taking the time to educate ourselves as parents about the topics I just mentioned are important to talk to kids about. These topics intersect a lot with bullying.
The more we have meaningful conversations with our kids, the more likely they will be able to make better decisions when they find themselves in an ethical or moral situation.