10 Solutions to Bully-Proof Kids

Posted on March 23, 2010

Bullying is always intentional, mean-spirited, rarely happens only once and the victim cannot hold his own. It is not teasing. If this is happening to your child, please know that your son or daughter is not alone. By some estimates, one in seven American schoolchildren is either a bully or a victim. Reports confirm that bullying is starting at younger ages and is far more frequent and aggressive than ever before.

While you can’t always be there to step in and protect your child there are ways to help your son or daughter be less likely to be victimized. I reviewed hundreds of studies to find tips for educators and parents and wrote a proposal to end school violence that became SB1667. I learned that bullying is learned and it also is preventable. We are waiting too late to teach our kids critical skills to help them be less likely to be targeted. There is no one sure-proof solution so experiment and find what works best for your child’s situation. Here are some of the best tips to help bully-proof your child.

1. Start the talk now! So start talking to your child about bullying before it ever happens. Tell your child you are always available and recognize it is a growing problem. You want your child to come to you and not suffer in silence.

2. Stop rescuing. Children need practice to speak up and be assertive so when the moment comes that they do need to stand up to a bully, they can. Always rescuing can create the conditions under which a child can become a victim.

3. Avoid areas where bullies prey. Bullying usually happens in unsupervised adult areas such as hallways, stairwells, playgrounds (under trees and equipment, in far corners), lockers, parks and bathrooms in places such as malls, schools, parks and even libraries. Teach your child about “hot spots” (places most likely to be frequently by bullies), and then tell him to avoid those areas.

4. Offer specific tips. Most kids can’t handle bullying on their own: they need your help, so provide a plan. For instance, if bullying is happening on the bus tell your child to sit behind the bus driver on the left side where the driver can see passengers in the mirror, ask an older kid to “watch out” for your child, or offer to pick your child up from school.

5. Teach assertiveness. Kids less likely to be picked on, use assertive posture. Stress to your child that he should stand tall and hold his head up to appear more confident and less vulnerable. Practice. Practice. Practice!

6. Stay calm and don’t react. Bullies love knowing they can push other kids’ buttons, so tell your child to try to not let his tormentor know he upset you.

7. Teach a firm voice. Stress to your child that if he needs to respond, simple direct commands work best delivered in a strong determined voice: “No.” “Cut it out.” “No way.” “Back off.” Then walk away with shoulders held back.

8. Get help if needed. Tell your child to walk towards other kids or an adult.

9. Find a supportive companion. Kids who have even one friend to confide in can deal with bullying better than those on their own. Is there one kid your child can pair up with? Is there a teacher, nurse, or neighbor he can go to for support? You may need to go to the teacher and principal and advocate!

10. Don’t make promises. You may have to protect your child, so make no promises to keep things confidential. You may have to step in and advocate. Do so if ever your child’s emotional or physical safety is at stake.

Please! Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and erodes fragile self-esteem. No child should ever have to deal with such cold-blooded cruelty.

by following @MicheleBorba on Twitter.

Dr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including the upcoming The Big Book of Parenting Solutions available this fall.

One to 7 ratio of school children as bully or victim cited by C. Goodnow, “Bullying Is a Complex, Dangerous Game in Which Everyone’s a Player,” Seattle Post-Intelligence, Sept. 1, 1999.

One in three children between grades 6 and 10 are involved in bullying as either victim or bully: A. Jones, “One in Three Kids Involved in Bullying, Statistics Show,” Cox News Service.

FAQ

Posted on March 21, 2010

Do you know if your child is being bullied? Here are some signs to watch for: Feelings of rejection Low self-esteem, poor grades at school Isolation, withdrawal from group activities at school and outside of school, aggressiveness, nervousness, extreme sensitivity, fear or refusal to go to school.

What is bullying? Psychologists define bullying as a power relationship carried on by one individual or a group of individuals towards another person. Bullying does not necessarily need to be brutal or physical violence, rumours, threats and hurtful words also lead to feelings of rejection.

What does bullying look like? Teasing, hair pulling, pushing, pinching or touching without consent, insulting somebody by making crude, sexist, racist or homophobic remarks, spreading rumours Threatening looks, unsightly gestures, writing unpleasant things about somebody (on paper or by email), threatening or scaring somebody, stealing, “taxing” (extortion of money and personal items).

Targets for bullying: Choice of clothing, physical differences or faults (fast, slow, big or small development), distinctive characteristics of parents (different education from other parents of the region, religion, origin, language), nutritional habits, speech impediments, introverted personality, solitary person

What Should Children Do? Do not answer back with verbal violence Ignore the insults by walking with your head up high. If you witness bullying towards another student, it is best to immediately refer what you have seen to an adult.

What Should Parents Do? Discuss the problem with your child and try to obtain the name of the bully Discuss the problem with the teacher and the principal of the school. Advise the child, but try not to do everything in his or her place. Guide the child towards out-of-school activities. Do not encourage verbal or physical violence as a suitable means of defense. Do not trivialize the problem. Take it seriously! (Source: Mia Lambert, Jeunesse J’ecoute and Annie Fernandez, Le Journal de Quebec

How can I tell if my child is being bullied at school?

 Shows an abrupt lack of interest in school or after school activities

 Takes an unusual route to school or after school activities

 Suffers a drop in grades

 Withdraws from family and school activities and wants to be left alone

 Is hungry after school – saying he /she lost money or wasn’t hungry at school

 Makes a bee line for the bathroom after school

 Is sad, sullen, angry or scared after receiving a text message, phone call or email

 Uses derogatory or demeaning language when talking about peers

 Stops talking about peers and everyday activities

 Has disheveled, torn or missing clothing

 Has physical injuries not consistent with the explanation

 Has physical complaints – headaches, stomach aches or changes in eating or sleeping patterns

 Shows symptoms of depression

 Begins or increases using substances

What should I do if my child tells me they are being bullied?

 Acknowledge the child – I hear you, I believe you, I will help you, Tell me about it , Listen

 Try and instill that it is not their fault – the blame belongs to the Bully – no one deserves to be bullied

 Help you child figure out ways to assertively stand up for themselves and steer clear of the situation – take power back

 Report the bullying to teachers, caregivers etc.

 Keep and accurate record – what, when, where

 Ensure that there is adequate supervision for your child so that he/she is not victimized again

What should I not do if my child tells me they are being bullied?

 Minimize or rationalize the incident

 Rush in to solve the problem – unless there is a serious physical threat

 Tell your child to run or hide

 Tell your child to fight back – do not want your child to use violence as a response

 Confront the Bully or their parents

 Make promises you may not be able to keep – you may need to inform police etc.

How do I get my child to disclose if they have been Bullied?

 Talk to your child

 “I am concerned that something may be going on at school that is upsetting you”

 “I want you to know that I will believe you and support you and help you deal with it”

 If and when they do talk – Listen and then respond. Let them know they will not be blamed

What should I do if the Bullying is occurring on the weekend?

 Ask your child if they know the Bully – get a description

 Suggest strategies for avoiding the situation – ie alternate routes. buddying up etc.

 Let people in the community know – ie – Mall security, Community centre staff, group leaders etc.

 Help you child develop a safety plan

How do I try and protect my child from Cyber Bullying?

 Familiarize yourself with on line activities. Learn about websites, chatrooms and lingo that your children are using

 Keep the computer in a common area

 Keep open communication lines with your children so that they will feel comfortable talking to you about any incidents of cyber bullying.

 Let them know that you are there to help and support them and will not be angry with them

 Recognize that online communication is a very important social aspect of kid’s lives and do not automatically shut down online privileges.

 Talk to your child about what is acceptable behavior on and off line

 Report any serious on line harassment or threats to your Internet Service provider and the police.

 Report any serious cell phone harassment or threats to your phone service provider

 Save any harassing or threatening e mails and telephone messages.

What do I do if no one will help me and no one believes me that my child is being bullied?

 Who have you spoken to and what was the response

 Gather the information about the incident and be specific about time, place, events

 Call the school etc. and ask to make an appointment with the Teacher/ principal to talk about the incident

 Keep notes

 Ask how they plan to address the incident

 Follow up to make sure the incident has been addressed

 If you are not satisfied that the incident has been addressed adequately take your concerns to the next level

At what point do I call the police?

 When the teasing and taunting becomes threatening, intimidating or assaultive

 

Anti Bullying Week

The following links are to help Parents to help their children deal with bullies.

This collection of short videos, hosted by computer guru Steve Dotto, demonstrates how kids use the Internet and explains the responsibilities of being an effective parent in the Digital Age.

http://www.learnnowbc.ca/Parent_Information_Centre/WhatsThat.aspx

It happens every day in schools, malls, on the Internet and cell phones across Canada. Bullying. One in five Canadian youth report being bullied regularly.

But you can help. When a friend steps in, bullying stops half the time in 10 seconds or less. It’s pretty simple. When you see bullying, don’t just stand by. Instead, stand up. Look here for some ways that you can be the one to help stop bullying.

http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=024700&tid=108

Internet Safety Tips for Parents: There are steps parents can take to protect their children who use the Internet. Some are listed below:

http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/sco/resourcedocs/internet_safe/internet_safe.pdf

Call it Safe

A parent guide for dealing with

harassment and intimidation

in secondary schools

http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/sco/sec_callsafe.pdf

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