Many children experience bullying and sadly, this can start at a very young age. However, it is estimated that only 15 percent of children report the abuse. Many live in fear and do not know how to act when a bully is hurting them, either physically or verbally. No parent wants to find out their child has been bullied at school, at the playground or anywhere else. One option you have is to teach your child how to have confidence and stand up for themselves.
Building Self Confidence
Teaching your child to stand up for himself doesn’t mean you teach him how to throw the perfect punch. Rather, you are teaching him about self awareness and boosting his confidence and assertiveness so that they can defend themselves rather than regressing. Below are some tips to bully proofing your children and preparing them for the school yard and playground.
Teach your child from an early age that it is okay to speak up about something that you don’t like. This can be a slippery slope as you don’t want your child demanding chocolate because he has a strong hatred towards carrots at the dinner table. However, encourage him to have a strong voice and teach him that it’s okay to say “Stop it” and “I don’t like that!”
Engage in Social Activities
Build up his confidence with plenty of social activities. Many children have difficulties making friends and fitting in. Try different activities to see what interests your child. Think outside the box – sports such as soccer, football and swimming may not be his thing but perhaps dance, crafts, Scouts or science will be a hit.
Many bullies will target one child at a time. If your child eats lunch alone or walks home from school on his own, then it will be easier for a bully to attack. Try to encourage your child to eat and walk home with some of the other kids in the neighbourhood.
Always be there
Many children may be afraid to report an incident in fear that they will look weak or that you will actually get mad. You need to reassure your child that you are always on his side, no matter what. Younger children will rely on Mum and Dad shamelessly but as your child gets older, he may feel ashamed and thus will want to tackle the problem on his own to assert his independence. Remind him that, even though he is growing up, you are always in his corner, if he ever needs.
Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Most schools, daycares and other learning environments practice zero tolerance for bullies. However, while physical bullying is often easy to recognise, verbal bullying can often go unnoticed. Make sure you are one step ahead of the game by knowing the signs of bullying. Many children are extremely reluctant to tell the truth when they are being bullied in fear that this will make it worse. Look for the warning signs such as:
- Disturbed sleep patterns, nightmares and bed wetting problems
- Unusual sadness
- Unexplained mood changes
- Torn clothing, bruises, damaged possessions
- Social anxiety, activity and school refusal
- Academic ‘dumbing down’ or changes in academic performance
If you do suspect your child is being bullied, talk to them about it first. Then contact the school where it may be happening to determine the best way to tackle the problem from all angles.
We have a few articles on the website about bullying, check them out!