Many children experience bullying and sadly, this can start at a very young age. Bullying is everywhere and no matter how hard you try to prevent it, it still could happen to your child.
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.
As parents, we never want our kids to be victims of bullying. No parent wants to find out their child has been bullied at school, at the playground or anywhere else. Yet, the reality is that we can’t be with our children 24/7, now that they have to go to school and do things on their own.
So to help them deal with bullies, they must be equipped with the right skills and attitude to get them not just through bullies, but through life as well (there could be more “bullies” in life as they grow older).
We have is to teach our children how to have confidence and stand up for themselves. It may be difficult for a parent, but sometimes, your kids have to fight bullying on their own.
Here’s what you can do to bully proof your child.
1. 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.
2. Speak Up
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!” it’s a great idea to get them involved in a debating or public speaking class.
Your child will be able to express himself/herself so when bullying strikes, he/she knows how to fight back by voicing out his/her opinion against bullying. Debating or public speaking classes also improves a child’s self-confidence to face challenges that will come their way.
3. Enroll them in self defence or martial arts classes.
Martial arts teaches kids self-defence, including discipline and mental and spiritual development. So getting your child to learn the techniques of self-defence and learning to control the situation is a great advantage especially when bullies try to hurt your child. Equip your child with the right skills and knowledge to try to beat the aggressor without looking like your child was the bully.
Plus Martial Arts classes show kids how to protect themselves from getting hurt. They learn how to block punches, how to fall without getting hurt and how to stop someone before they attack. Not only is Martial Arts good for bully proofing, it is a great life skill to have!
Types of Martial Arts classes to look into include:
- Tae Kwon Do
- Brazillian Jiu Jitsu
4. Have a regular weekly sports or any social activity.
Social activities will keep your child’s mind busy and it teaches them discipline as well. Many children have difficulties making friends and fitting in. Whether team sports or singular or partnered activity, your child will learn how to deal with himself/herself/ or with others. It also teaches kids how to interact with each other, sportsmanship and gives their little bodies strength and resilience which builds self esteem! 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.
5. Have a weekly ‘one-on-one’ talk with your child.
Communication is always the key to a healthy parent-child relationship. If you can’t make it a daily habit, try to have at least a weekly one-on-one talk with your child about school and friends. Was the week a breeze for him/her? Did he/she had trouble at school? Was there anything that he/she found difficult at school? Was his/her friends amazing? This simple talk would make your child feel at ease and comfortable with you knowing that there’s someone who will listen to them. So when bullies try to harm your child, he/she will be able to tell you immediately and you can help prevent or stop it.
6. Visit a psychologist on a regular basis.
Psychologists are experts in mental health so taking your child to a psychologist to assess his/her overall behaviour to maintain a healthy mental development. And when your child is being bullied, it can easily be detected and will help your child learn how to deal with bullies.
Truly everyone should see a Psychologist, if only to vent anything and learn how to deal with relationships better. There isn’t the stigma anymore, it is seen as part of the whole package of being who you are!
7. Have your child regularly visit non-school friends.
Sometimes your child has to have a time away from friends at school (like cousins or other non-school friends) so they can build and maintain a strong support system. After-school activities may help your child learn social skills and mingle with others. Children who have friends are less likely to get bullied, but when they are, their friends will be there to comfort and support them.
8. Remove any screen access from kids bedrooms.
The internet offers not just the good but all the bad in the world, and yes, cyber-bullying is one of it. So take the first step before this happens. Remove any screen access from your kids bedrooms, but it doesn’t mean removing it totally from the whole house. You can control their screen time and make sure you know who they’re interacting to virtually. However, there are just some people who will do nasty things to put down another even on the world wide web. So teach your child to let you know immediately when someone says or texts mean things to them before it’s too late.
9. Don’t get involved in your child’s school squabbles.
As parent of a child being bullied, you can’t help but go fight tooth and nail to defend your child, but it doesn’t solve anything. You may want to talk to the parents of the child who bullied your child, but it’s best to keep your hands to yourself and let school authorities handle the situation.
10. Have a buddy system.
Bullies love to target children who are alone. So having a buddy system will make your child less likely to be a victim of bullying.
11. Watch Youtube videos regularly on dealing with bullies.
Sometimes, you can learn from other people’s experiences in dealing with bullies so you can try to deal with bullies as well when you’re faced with the circumstances. Some people upload heroic videos of people fighting bullies, and YouTube has tons of them, where you can pick some lessons or two about handling bullying the right way.
12. Make them feel reassured
Nothing beats making your kids feel that you always have their back.
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. Also visit the “Bullying – No Way” website for some great resources and information! bullyingnoway.gov.au