Steps to Bully-Proof Your Child

Bullying takes the fun out of school. As a child psychologist, I’ve seen the effects on hundreds of kids. One school contacted me last week with concerns over a kid who was drawing pictures of himself jumping off a cliff. He’d been the victim, for years, of being teased for being overweight. Kids who have been teased or bullied feel scared, worried, and embarrassed. It’s hard for them to talk about it, let alone deal with it.

What is Bullying?

Research suggests that almost half of all children have been bullied in some way— by being teased, called names, threatened, hit or kicked, or made to do something they don’t want to do. Bullying is aggressive behavior among school-aged kids that makes another child feel afraid or uncomfortable. Bullying involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. Some studies show that 80% of kids have engaged in some form of bullying themselves.

How Common Is It?

Studies suggest that about a fourth of all kids are frequently bullied. Although it starts in the elementary school years, peaks during middle school and decreases in high school, national trends suggest that it is starting much earlier.

Why Kids Bully

There are a lot of reasons why kids bully. Some think it will make them cool or popular by looking tough or in charge. Others do it to get attention or get their own way. Some kids feel powerful when they make others afraid of them. Others are jealous of the person they are bullying. Almost all bullies have been bullied themselves. Even though bullies try to look like they have it all together, they are hurting inside, and need help.

How Does it Hurt?

Bullying can be harmful to your child because it makes them feel lonely, unhappy, frightened and unsafe. They think that there is something wrong with them. It often feels like a kick in the stomach. They often either get sick or simply feel sick. They lose confidence and don’t want to go to school.

Who Gets Targeted

Some kids get picked on for no particular reason, but kids who are likely targets for bullies usually have something different about them, such as their size, the way they talk, or their name. Other kids get picked on just because they look like they won’t stand up for themselves.

  • How You Can Help   If your child is being bullied or teased, first just listen to them and help them to feel understood about what’s going on. Remind them that they are not the problem, – the bully is. It’s not their fault that they are being bullied, and they don’t have to face it on their own. Remind them that everyone has the right to feel safe and respected.
  • Tell Your Child What Not to Do  Explain to your child that there are two extremes of reactions to bullies that definitively won’t One is to act aggressively back, which is just what some bullies want. The other thing to do is be passive and go along with what the bully says.
  • How They Can React  Bullies are also less likely to pick on kids if they are grouped with other friends. It can help to stand up to the bully (or bullies) and say, “Cut it out,” walk away, or tell an adult.

Learning New Tools

An excellent means of learning these skills is download and listen to the award-winning song “Bye, Bye Bully.”  Your child will soon be singing in full chorus:

“Hey you, cut it out. And if you can’t, you’ll be without me

‘Cause I’ll walk away with my head up high and say, by the way, goodbye. Bye, bye bully…

Names will never hurt me, no matter what you say. I’ll tell the teacher that it’s not okay.

I’ll just ignore you, no matter what you say. A bully’s just unhappy, and havin’ a bad day. Poor bully.”

Final Thoughts

These words empower kids to see the problem of bullying as a problem that another child is having instead of personalizing the put-downs. Research shows that hearing this song a number of times can have a profound affect on children’s levels of confidence. It gives them tools to become empowered and show the bully that what they’re doing is not okay. Never underestimate the upset that a bullied child feels.

This entry was posted in Bullies, Bullying, bystanders, Emotional Intelligence, Fear, Feelings, Happy Kids. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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