In my last post, I asked parents to consider 3 questions if they’re thinking of homeschooling:
- Is my child’s safety at risk in school?
- Is my child’s suited to homeschooling?
- Are YOU up to it?
Let’s deal with the first question. If your child is being bullied in school, what can you do about it?
When we find out that our child is being bullied in school, we can be so upset that we just react. Our natural instinct is to swoop down and take him out of school, I would advise that first you take a deep breath, stay calm and rational. (And you’re probably thinking right now, “THEN swoop down and take him out of school!”)
TAKE YOUR CHILD SERIOUSLY
First, take your child seriously if she comes to you and says that she is being bullied. There is nothing worse for a child than to find that her parents do not believe her. Your child is already fearful. Do not add to her fears by dismissing what she says as her “imagination”. Instead, encourage her to talk about the incident and whether it had happened before. Your child may not even recognise the incident as bullying. Assure her that it is okay to report bullying.
CONTACT THE SCHOOL IMMEDIATELY IF YOUR CHILD IS AT RISK
After listening to your child, if you feel that safety is a concern, talk to the school immediately. Understandably, your child will probably be reluctant for you to do this – he may feel that bringing it to the teachers’ attention will make it worse or that he will be viewed as a “mama’s boy” for not being able to take care of this himself. However, the fact of the matter is, the school has to take responsibility for helping students who bully to change. You can be sure that your child will not be the only victim of the bully if this is not nipped in the bud.
DO NOT ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO FIGHT BACK
Again, our instinct is to enrol her in some martial arts school so that she can beat the *&%# out of the bully. Fighting can escalate the situation and you can be sure that the bully as well as your child will be reprimanded for fighting. Besides, what kind of message are you sending her if you encourage her to fight – that all problems can be solved with the fist? That might is right?
GIVE YOUR CHILD STRATEGIES SHE CAN USE
For the first line of defence, encourage your child
- not to show that she is afraid, if she is
- to act unimpressed
- not to react e.g. cry or name call back
- to walk towards a teacher or trusted adult
- if she can get away with it, to pretend she doesn’t understand the language
If that doesn’t work,
- look at the bully in the eye
- say firmly, “Stop!” and/or “That is enough!”
- act and walk away confidently towards a teacher or trusted adult
If the bullying continues, on the same day or on another day, it’s time for you to act before it goes any further. Bullying almost always starts verbally before it gets physical. Do not wait until your child is at risk.
HELP YOUR CHILD BUILD UP HIS SELF-ESTEEM
Assure your child that what happened was not her fault. Research shows that a child who has been bullied has a greater chance of being bullied again, not just in school, but throughout his life. And the child who bullies? Well, he has his problems too. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has this to say about bullies, “Bullying by children is considered a stepping stone for criminal behaviours, increasing the risk of police contact when they become adults by more than half.” And that’s just one of the problems. If you are parents of a bully, you too need to nib this in the bud.
If you know how to do this i.e. build his self-esteem, do it yourself. If not, seek help. Our YouthMAX program does exactly that. I would encourage you to check that link out. Here is a short excerpt from the web page:
“Today’s youth face many challenges – struggles with confidence, fear of failure, and bullying. As parents, teachers and leaders, we can do something about it! The YouthMAX program is dedicated to helping kids and teens become bright leaders and change makers.”
The YouthMAX program helps your child to deal with bullying and difficult people, not just in school but also in other social situations e.g. cyberbullying; not just for themselves but also to help others who are being bullied.