In today’s world, bullying can take on many different forms, from verbal, physical, social, to cyber bullying. In some cases, the bullying may be made up of more than one of these components, too. The first thing you should do, as a parent, is to determine if your child is being physically harmed. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to intervene immediately.
If your child is being teased or has rumors circulating about him or her, you may want to teach your child a few tactics to help respond to the bully. Teach your son or daughter how to stay calm during a difficult situation and look the bully directly in the eye. Have your child firmly state that they do not want to be talked about like that, and that they do not like what the bully is doing. It’s also important to teach your child to know when to ask a trusted adult for help. If the problem does not resolve, you may wish to alert the school officials.
Because cyber bullying is unfortunately a risk, you may wish to monitor your child’s texts and interactions through social media so that problems can be identified and dealt with as they arise.
If you’re unsure whether your child is being bullied, you may be able to tell based on a few warning signs, including:
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
Avoidance of social situations or faking an illness to stay home
Poor grades and loss of interest in schoolwork
Lost or stolen electronics or personal items
Self harm or thoughts of suicide
If your child is experiencing one or more of these signs, it’s important to get help through his or her pediatrician or mental health counselor.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may find that your child is the one expressing bullying behaviors to other children. This can be witnessed by an increasing amount of aggression in your child, or frequently blaming others for problems. In this case, you should make sure your child knows that bullying is not acceptable. You may find it helpful to show your child that he or she does not have to use methods like threatening or teasing to make friends or get what he or she wants. In repeated cases, effective discipline should be used, such as a loss of privileges. It may also be beneficial for you to speak with your child’s guidance counselor, principal or teachers so that those adults can intervene when you are not around.
Last, if your child finds him or herself witnessing another person being bullied, it’s important that your child knows to tell a trusted adult about the situation. Additionally, your child should be told not to encourage or cheer on a bully, but rather, support the child who is experiencing the bullying behavior.