Ten Ways to Help Your Child Fight Bullying

By Lauren Nicholson on July 30, 2018

 Bullying is a very common problem that affects both children and adults all over the world. Bullying Statistics UK reports that 69% of children in the UK have experienced confrontations with bullies while 87% of parents assert that their child has handled situations with bullies. Regrettably, Bullying Statistics UK further reveals that an estimated twenty children and adolescents successfully commit suicide every year due to the pressures and trauma of ‘bullycide’, the term now popularly used for being bullied.

Parents, however, can help their children avoid bullies and stand up to them through simple ways.

1.  Enhance your child’s confidence and self-esteem.  A child who feels good about himself and has  a solid sense of self is less likely to allow himself to be bullied.

2.  Always spend time talking with and listening to your child. Most children feel too ashamed to tell anyone, especially their parents, about distressing and emotionally-charged events in their life. If you have established a secure reciprocal relationship with your child though, he will feel comfortable enough to tell you about what goes on in his life, giving you a heads up about potential problems.

3.  Be a model of respect and tolerance for your child to emulate. Be respectful, tolerant and compassionate in your interactions with all people, whether you are dealing with a paid worker, your neighbour or your child himself. Your child learns much about power, dominance and equality from your interactions with others.

4.  Encourage your child to practise prosocial behaviour.  Very early on, teach your child positive values such as sharing, kindness, empathy, cooperation and fair play that will help him develop healthy relationships with peers. Children who do not cultivate healthy relationships with others, who are selfish, throw fits and act immaturely, and are therefore unpopular, are also more likely to be bullied or to become bullies themselves.

5.  Gain more knowledge about the subject of bullying. Read up on the subject of bullying – its causes, incidence, prevention, and in particular, its signs. Watch out for changes in your child’s behaviour such as reluctance to attend school, uncommon anxiety, experience of nightmares or other sleep disturbances, missing belongings, loss of appetite, or complaints about vague physical pains. If you do observe some of these signs, a visit to your child’s school and a talk with your child’s teacher might yield useful information.

6.  Ensure that your home is bully-free. Make sure that there is no bullying going on at your own home, whether the bullying is done wittingly or unwittingly. Carefully monitor relationships among siblings, between you and your spouse, between you and your child and among other members of the household. Quickly arrest interactions that show the slightest hint of oppression and power imbalance. 

7.  Establish clear rules and procedures related to bullying. Information is your child’s defence. Discuss the how’s and why’s of bullying with your child. Knowing what constitutes bullying, how to avoid it, and what steps to take when he is being bullied – all these bits of information will arm your child with a definite plan of action to protect himself from this unfortunate experience. Practise scenarios where your child learns effective avoidance techniques and assertive strategies to handle bullies. Identify persons of authority whom your child can go to for help if needed.

8.  Have a discussion with your child about cyberbullying. Set rules and boundaries for usage of technology. Teach your child never to respond to inappropriate or threatening email messages. Document all inappropriate text messages, emails or website posts and report these to authorities.

9.  Establish your physical presence at your child’s school.  Majority of bullying incidents occur when there are no adults around. Spend more time at your child’s school by volunteering for school activities or just stopping by once in a while to get a feel of what a regular day is like for your child at school.

10. Participate in anti-bullying campaigns at your child’s school. Take part in school-initiated projects that combat bullying, such as awareness campaigns, improving student relations, enforcement of rules and sanctions, and victim support. If the school does not actively pursue this as a priority, call on the administration to take a more pro-active stand. All schools, by law, must enforce an anti-bullying policy.

Bullying is admittedly a common life experience from childhood onward. Nonetheless, it should never be considered a normal part of life and must always be deemed unacceptable by parents, other adults and, of course, the children themselves.


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