Five simple bullying solutions
If you've ever been through to pain of discovering your child is being bullied, then you'll know how confronting this can be. But there are some simple ways to spot the situation and take effective action before things get out of hand.
1. Spot the bullying signs
Kids usually don't tell you they are being bullied, so often parents need to use detective skills to find out! Bullying expert Dr Toni Noble says some signs that your child may be being bullied include physical injuries, like unexplained bruises and scratches, a general unhappiness, reluctance to go to school or child care and often moodiness or withdrawal.
2. Understand what bullying is
Bullying is not merely one-off incidents of exclusion, violence or friendship problems - it runs deeper than that.There are five different kinds of bullying behaviour. They are physical bullying such as hitting, poking, tripping or pushing, are used to hurt and intimidate. Repeatedly and intentionally damaging someone's belongings is also physical bullying. Verbal bullying involves the use of negative words, like name calling, insults, racist slurs. Social bullying is when lies, the spreading of rumours or nasty pranks are used. Psychological bullying involves the repeated and intentional use of words or actions which can cause psychological harm. Examples include intimidation, manipulation and stalking. Cyber bullying is the big one at the moment and is when technology is used to verbally, socially or psychologically bully. It can occur in chat rooms, on social networking sites, through emails or on mobile phones.
3. Raise the issue carefully
Many kids can't talk about the problems without carefully considered prompting from parents. "A family conversation about bullying can open up this topic for parents and children in which they can discuss what's acceptable and what's not," Dr Toni Noble says. “It will show children that their parents get it, and sets in place family values in which bullying is declared unacceptable.”
If someone gets bullied, it's not his or her fault - stress this point to your child: Nobody deserves to be bullied ever! Everyone has the right to feel safe from being bullied.
4. Once you discover bullying is happening
Rationally collect and confirm the facts with your child. If it's at school or day care, report it and work with the organisation to fix the problem. Most schools have tried-and-tested policies and strategies to deal with bullying. Talk with your child about ways to deal with the bully, encouraging them to walk away, keep away and speak to a teacher. Don't try to fix the problem by talking with the other children or parents and it's best not to encourage your child to fight back.
5. Be an anti-bully role model
Don't allow bullying to take place in your own home. Explain what anti-social behavior is and talk about it in a way kids can understand. Students who come from families that oppose bullying accept that bullying is wrong and are less likely to bully others, because they know their parents would disapprove. Encourage your child to see the positive side of other students rather than expressing contempt and superiority. Model and encourage respect for others as well as behaviours and values, such as compassion, cooperation, friendliness, acceptance of difference and respect
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This article was written by Fiona Baker for our sister site kidspot.com.au and was adapted for Kidspot, New Zealand's best family health resource.