Bullying: How Should Kids & Parents Deal With It

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Bullying can be seen as an act of scaring or harming another person. It can be in the form or physical (such as pushing or hitting) as well as verbal (such as insulting someone with rude comments or malicious gossip) acts. Bullying affects  children of any age, from kindergarten and elementary school years to high school. It usually happens with kids who seem to be delicate or alone. It affects everyone, people who are bullied, the ones who bully, and those who observe bullying. Girls and boys do so in different ways. Girls are more likely to do so in emotional ways, while boys often resort to both physical and emotional ways.

Kids Who Are Bullied

Bullying can have an impact on the physical, mental and emotional health of the child, both in the short term and long term. It leads to many negative outcomes such as, impacts on mental health, substance abuse, and suicide. Bullying can also damage the self-esteem of the person and can result in problems adjusting to school. It can lead to feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may be carried forward into adulthood as well. It can be also seen that they may be at a greater risk for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and panic disorder as adults. These people may sometimes cause ‘self harm’ or may feel suicidal. If it continues for long, they might have few psychological pressures too. They may find it hard to trust others, have problems in making or keeping friends and lack of self confidence.

Why Do Kids Bully?

The most common reason is because he/she lacks attention from a parent at home and lashes out at others for attention. This can include kids belonging from divorced families, neglected families or neglected children or children with parents under the regular influence of drugs/alcohol. Older siblings can also have an impact. If they’ve been bullied, they are more apt to bully a younger sibling to feel more powerful. Kids often learn all this at home and then bully others. Some kids are generally seen to be more aggressive, dominating and impulsive by nature. It doesn’t always mean that they are bullies.

Bullies dominate, blame and use others. They lack feelings of empathy and foresight. They see kids who are weak as their target and don’t care about the consequences of their actions. Most bullies don’t care about the impact their action can have on others. They may pick on other kids because they have been bullied themselves. Such kind of children require counselling. It can help them understand why they act as they do. And it can help them to interact with others in more positive ways. Family counselling can prove to be a very useful means for these children.

Signs of Bullying

Until and unless your child comes and tells you about bullying on their own, it can be a very difficult task for parents to figure out what is happening with him/her at school. There are some warning signs that every parent should know:

  • If you notice your kid behaving differently, getting anxious, not eating or sleeping well, or not doing the things they usually enjoy.
  • When kids start getting moody or more easily upset than usual, when they start avoiding certain situations, it might be because of a bully.
  • If you sense bullying but your child is not ready to open up, you can try few other ways to bring out the issue, for example, you can share your own experiences or another family member had at that age.

How can kids deal with bullying

Being the victim of bullying can make you feel horrible about yourself for no reason. Here are a few things that you can do to deal to make yourself feel better-

  • Remain confident– Confidence is a bully’s biggest enemy. If you want to prevent bullying, then you should try to work on not only developing an inner confidence, but also on projecting confidence. Though developing confidence is not easy, it can take a long time, but try to make an effort.
  • Take your friends’ help– This is the time you can ask your friend for support. You can discuss with your friend about what’s happening and make sure to stick by them in such kind of threatening situations. Do not be alone when you are around the bully.
  • Learn to stand up for yourself– If a bully comes up to you and starts insulting or passing comments, the best you can do is to exude confidence and stay calm. This may make the bully think that you’re not a good target because you’re too strong.
  • learn some self-defence– While you shouldn’t indulge in fighting whenever a bully comes up to you, but taking a few self- defence classes, such as karate, will help you a lot in the long run. It can make you feel much more confident when you face the bully.
  • Have confidence in yourself– If you know who you are and have faith in yourself, then you will be less likely to be approached by a bully. Do not get scared ever. Believe in yourself.
  • Don’t let the bully affect you in any way– A bully’s goal is to scare you and make you feel lonely. He might pass few hurtful comments, but you must never let the bully see that whatever he is saying has an effect on you. If he says something mean and you look sad, then he’ll only be encouraged to do it more of the same.
  • Inform any authority figure about it– Many people feel scared to inform it to their adults, teachers, or other authority figures about bullying because they think it will make them look like a wimp and that it can annoy the bully more. If you want them to stop, believe in your parents and tell them the truth.
  • Don’t ever blame yourself– Don’t ever think that it’s your fault that you’re being bullied because there’s something wrong with you. Bullies are people who have low self-esteem and who try to make themselves feel better by belittling other people. It’s not your fault. If you’re being bullied, then it’s important to stay calm, think positively, and do not ever blame yourself.

What Parents Can Do to Prevent and Stop Bullying

  • Have a good rapport with your child-The more you know about your child’s friends, classmates and peers, the more likely you are to spot any changes in your child’s social interactions.
  • Explain to your child what bullying is– Young children should know that hitting or pushing another child is wrong. But you can also explain that other forms of bullying, such as insulting or ignoring someone, can also be hurtful.
  • Tell them what to do in such a situation- Tell your child what to do if they encounter hurtful behaviour directed toward them or someone else. Tell them to alert a teacher right away if they see or experience bullying behaviour.
  • Set a good example– Do not make fun of other people or gossip about others in front of your child. Have you ever spoken rudely to a helper in your house? Your children keenly listen and observe your behaviour. Kids learn a lot by observing their parents.
  • Look for signs that your child may be experiencing bullying– Does she not like to go to school? Are your kids showing any behavioural changes such as aggression, anxiety or depression? Kids usually feel apprehensive in telling their adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it’s happening, or worry that their parents will be disappointed, upset, angry, or reactive.
  • Compliment your child– Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn’t alone. A lot of people get bullied at some point. Give your child the reassurance that you will figure out what to do about it together.
  • Talk to the school authorities about effective programs that are being used by schools to deter bullying- Let someone at school know about the situation. They are often in a position to keep a check and take steps to prevent further problems.
  • It’s important to advise kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back. Tell them that the solution to any problem is not by getting violent or hurting someone. Instead, it’s best to walk away from the situation and tell an adult.
  • Restore confidence- Dealing with bullying can shake a child’s confidence. To help restore it, encourage your kid to spend time with friends who have a positive influence. Participation in things he loves, such as, sports activities or other enjoyable activities builds strength and friendships.
  • Provide a listening ear– It’s very important to always listen to your kids about their difficult situations, but encourage your kids to also tell you about the good part of their day. Give them the confidence that you are there for them always and you will do your best to address any bullying that occurs.

Bullying is a major problem that we haven’t been able to stop, every year more and more children get bullied at school.  We all need to take a stand against bullying and not encourage it, so that it can be put to an end.

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