I often say to parents, imagine that when you went to work your colleagues teased you, tried to trip you when you walked down the hall, and laughed in your face; how long would you actually stay on the job?
Bullying usually happens in school. It can affect self-esteem, can bring on depression, and in extreme cases can cause suicide. It is very hard for a child to do well academically when they are preoccupied with being bullied.
One of the worst things a kid can go through is being bullied
The best thing we can do for our children is to eradicate bullying in our schools; however, until then, it is important to protect your child from the effects of bullying. I have developed a multi-step plan designed to help children overcome bullying. You can use these steps to support your child in overcome bullying.
Work on your child’s facial expressions
When a child is bullied, their facial expression generally reflects the turmoil they are going through. They may appear scared, embarrassed, or sad. The bully gets satisfaction from seeing his victim visibly upset. So our first strategy is to have your child practice their facial expression in the mirror so that they will be able to display a calm and confident expression in front of the bully.
Your child should try to imagine the bully bothering him or her while maintaining a calm facial expression. Once your child is able to consistently do this in the mirror, they should be able to display a calmer and more confident expression when the bully bothers him in school. When the bully no longer sees much anguish in his victim he will generally lose interest in teasing that particular child.
Identify the patterns
Bullies often follow patterns when harassing children. They might typically bully in the schoolyard before school or in the cafeteria during lunch. They may wait for a particular time when they will have an audience.
You can help your child develop a plan to avoid the bully, which may consist of coming later to school, sitting somewhere else in the cafeteria, entering the schoolyard from a different door, or playing in a different section of the schoolyard.
Improve physical strength
Help your child feel stronger physically. This often translates into more poise and confidence which should deter the bully. A self-defense course could make your child stronger and improve your child’s perception of their strength. For an adolescent, working out in a gym can be very effective as well.
With a young child, you can teach your child rudimentary self-defense tips and encourage your child to believe that they are strong and could protect themselves. The most important outgrowth of this would be a more confident child which oftentimes causes the bully to look elsewhere for a victim.
Be smart about working with the school
In some cases your child’s teacher or the administration of the school can intervene directly with the bully and reduce the frequency of the bullying. Some times this type of intervention backfires and the bully uses it in his bullying, saying things like “you baby, you cried to your mother and she tried to get me in trouble with the principal.”
A parent has to gauge the levels of sophistication of the teacher and of the administration before embarking on this course. When done correctly, however, the school administration can be effective in reducing or eliminating bullying of an individual child.
Stand up to the bully
This is the riskiest of the techniques. When the above techniques have not worked it may be necessary for your child to stand up to the bully. When a family decides that it’s ok to have their child stand up to the bully the best way to do that is verbally.
Let’s imagine a child is being verbally teased in the hallway almost every day; it might help for him to firmly and loudly tell the bully to BACK OFF or CUT IT OUT. This can create a scene in the hall and may convince the bully that it’s not worth it to pick on this particular child.
Invite friends over to play
For young victims of bullying, one effective technique is for the victim’s parents to arrange playdates with classmates in order to increase the number of friends your child has in school. Generally, the more popular a child is the less chance that he or she will be bullied in school. It’s a good idea to begin by inviting a child who is at least somewhat friendly with your child. However, you can move on to invite other classmates who are not currently friends of your child.
Playing in the comfortable environment of your own home, your child should be able to interact well with their classmate. This should then translate into your children being friendlier in school. In some circumstances, you could even invite the child that is bullying your son or daughter. If the playdate goes well, the bully may change his attitude and his behavior towards your child.
Another advantage of having playdates in your house is that you can observe your child’s social interactions. You may discover that your child is making some basic mistakes in terms of how he or she relates to friends and peers. By gently teaching your child more appropriate behavior, you will help them relate more appropriately to peers in school and reduce the likelihood of being bullied.
If your child is too old for you to arrange a playdate, you can instead encourage your child to invite someone from class over to the house. You can also help by making sure that there is space for your child to play at home, that you have appropriate snacks and that your child has fun things to do with classmates. Here too, observing how the playdate goes can very valuable.
Make a difference
If you are struggling to help your child overcome bullying at school or in your neighborhood, a therapist with experience in this area can help. Click here to find a therapist in your area.