Bully Be Gone: 9 tips to help your child deal with bullies

April 30th, 2013

If you have a kid or work with kids, then you’ve heard all about bullies. From zero tolerance to no bullying schools, it’s a big topic at school, at home, and in the media. We hear of children being pushed too far and hurting others or themselves because they were bullied.

I believe that “bullies” provide valuable learning opportunities and children with SUPPORT can grow and become resilient from these experiences.

Here are 9 tips on how to help your child learn and grow in positive ways from their experience with bullies:

1. Listen-Your child may feel like they are not being heard or understood. You may not agree with what you child is saying, however by listening to and trying to understand your child you will help them process their feelings, make choices, and learn to problem-solve. Use art making to explore feelings around bullying and allow your child a safe place to process their feelings without judgment.

2. Don’t jump in to rescue (unless it’s a safety issue)- Safety can mean psychological or physical. If you feel that your child safety is at-risk, then intervening is paramount. Otherwise, allow your child to problem-solve and brainstorm possible ways of handling the situation. You can use the art making process to explore choices and options. If you quickly intervene, then your child may begin to feel like they are incapable of making decisions or handling difficult situations (which may create a whole lot of enabling behavior in the future).

3. Let them know you’ve got their back- After exploring their options, if what they try doesn’t work, you can look at other options together. If the situation escalates let them know you’ve got a plan of action.

4. They may be embarrassed, and that’s okay-If the situation escalates don’t allow your chid to go at it alone, no matter what they say. Kids sometimes don’t want you to intervene because they are afraid it will only make things worse or that they will be embarrassed. Again, if it’s a safety issue, or they have tried to change the situation and it has not gotten better, then it’s time for you to step in and contact the teacher or school administration.

5. Watch your child’s behaviors- If you notice your child shutting down or withdrawing, or their grades slipping, it’s an indicator that something is going on. Look for subtle cues that they are having trouble coping and don’t ignore the chronic statements about hating school, find out what’s going on.

6. Sometimes you just got to look at other options- I’ve seen many children who stay in a negative environment without support, and they start to shutdown. All of a sudden they are depressed, anxious, or getting into trouble. These kids have expressed that they can’t handle a situation in so many ways, and they feel like no one is hearing them. Perhaps the environment can’t be fixed, or the administration is unwilling to make changes, or your child’s attempts to assert himself/herself has only create more bullying. It feels like you’ve tried it all, nothing seems to be getting better and it seems to be getting worse. It’s time to explore other options.  Explore what other academic choices, what environment does your child thrive in, how can you empower your child, and how can you address the underlying issues so that it doesn’t become a reoccurring pattern wherever they go.

7. Create opportunities for empowerment-Bullying and bullies trigger fears and inadequacies , help your child learn how to manage their fears and develop assertiveness skills by building competency and mastery. Help them learn how to manage smaller difficulties by introducing your child to developmentally appropriate tasks that challenge them. Explore sports, learn new skills, attend new places or camps, and help your child learn how to overcome challenges with support and encouragement. The art making process is a great way to develop coping skills and build mastery.

8 Build social skills- Some children who are bullied have a difficult time fitting in socially. They may be socially immature, or have a hard time making or keeping friends their age. Again, look for situations where they can develop skills socially and learn how to cope with frustrations, manage transitions, be flexible in a fun and supportive environment.

9. Explore therapy- With so many therapists teaching skills today you’ll likely find someone who can help your child with their feelings and behaviors. Therapy is a great place to try out new skills, learn how to adapt and change, and safely express feelings. Many children who have been bullied carry emotional scars and talk about these painful experiences years later. Provide your child with a safe place to process and move through their feelings so they can make positive changes (and seek out positive relationships).

Children love learning, so tap into their natural curiosity and creativity to help them develop the skills they need to say buh-bye to bullies. Need some more support? Join us on the IPPC Q& A call, May 7th. Get your questions answered LIVE~ Click here to learn more

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