As school starts up again for the year, so are the anxieties and pains of bullying for many children. In today's digital world, bullying behavior doesn't just exist within the school walls anymore, either; it follows our children around in their pockets and into our homes.
As a parent, it is particularly difficult to see your child in pain--especially when you feel powerless against the bullying they're experiencing. If you sense your child is the target of bullying--or even participating in bullying behavior themselves--here is a quick guide on what you can do to help stop it.
Every child and situation is different, so use your best judgment on what advice would be most effective for your child. Generally speaking, however, here are some basic tips or pieces of advice you can use to help your child protect themselves against bullies.
Live the golden rule. Part of the resistance against bullying is by treating others the same way you want to be treated. You don’t know that person’s backstory or what they might be struggling with. Kindness may be exactly what that person needs.
Never retaliate. While bullying is never OK behavior, don't EVER retaliate or hurt anyone for being a bully. Doing so will only make things worse--not better--and may even put you in even more danger of getting hurt or getting in trouble.
Know your digital risks. In an age where cyberbullying is ever prevalent, here are a few very important things to keep in mind:
Tell your bully to stop. Although painful, it’s important to clearly express that you are uncomfortable and want them to stop. Doing so may also allow adults or peers to notice the behavior and intervene.
Do not engage with negative behavior. It may be tempting to throw insults back in a bully’s face, but it will only make things worse.
Walk away and find help if you are in danger. Safety is the most important thing in a bullying situation, so if you feel you are unsafe in any way, get away as quickly as you can and find help.
Don’t internalize your experience. Tell an adult about what happened (or what continues to happen). Bullying behavior thrives in darkness, so it’s best to make clear who is bullying and how they are doing it. It may help other targets of bullying come forward as well.
Tell someone. If you see someone is uncomfortable or in pain, it’s best to report that behavior to an adult. The person being bullied may not have the courage or strength to report it themselves.
Be an ally. Express your support for the person being bullied. Let them know they are not alone and that they have someone they can count on for help. If possible, it could also help to make that individual feel more included in peer activities, like inviting them to your lunch table or playing games with them on the playground, etc.
Pathways Counseling Services is a Scottsdale-based counseling practice dedicated to helping community members overcome their daily struggles and find happiness in their lives. We understand how painful and isolating a bullying experience can be for both you and your child, so we do everything we can to help you both find peace and security during this extremely difficult time.
If you or your child would like to speak with one of our therapists about bullying, we'd love to talk. Please give us a call at (480) 235-1682 or click here to schedule an appointment.