Bullying and Your Role

by Rebeccah Minazadeh

We have heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words cannot hurt me.” In actuality, we all know how hurtful words can be. Bullying is a growing issue, which in an age of technology, now more than ever requires our attention and intervention. Resilient Children is a valuable resource, which helps your child to combat the effects of bullying. It includes exercises that teach skills for self-awareness, emotional development, communication, anti-bullying, conflict solution, and friendship for your child to personally learn and integrate into their everyday life. We can be hopeful and proactive that the harms and cycle of bullying may end, starting with our children.

The following are key tools to help you intervene when a child is dealing with bullying.

1. Be aware of bullying when it happens.
What is the definition of bullying? Bullying is intentionally aggressive behavior that is repeated and involves a power struggle between two children.

2. Build a connection with the child.

Children do much better in stressful situations when they have a mentor whom they can trust. When a child recognizes that he/she is cared about and that a mentor is invested in his/her well-being, the child will be more inclined to talk about the issue and handle it confidently and appropriately. We can encourage our children to reach out by spending quality time with them. Engaging in conversation with them about how they are feeling is helpful for recognizing when a child is being bullied. Questions like, “How are you feeling? How was your day with “x” and what did you do today?” are ways to help a child to open up. Remaining calm, sympathetic and helping the child in solving the problem, as well as following up, are tools to help adults partner with children against bullying.

3. Stop bullying when you see it.

Be ready and willing to intervene when you witness bullying. It is important to address the group as a whole, never isolating one person and to simply and directly reassure them that bullying is not tolerated. Some examples of appropriate responses include:

  • “It’s not OK to say that to someone in my classroom. Are we clear?”
  • “Sending that kind of text about a classmate is unacceptable. That cannot happen again.”
  • “Leaving one kid out of the group is not going to work. Let’s fix this and move on.”

4. Deal with cyber-bullying.

A helpful way to deal with cyber-bullying is to keep up a strong connection with children offline. By remaining open, compassionate, and sensitive, we can partner with children to talk about and stop bullying.

5. Turn bystanders into friends.

Parents, teachers and other mentors can help end bullying by teaching a bystander to be a friend. Teaching children to empathize with each other, to communicate in healthy ways and to value compassion are key. Pairing high-status kids with their vulnerable peers may have a profoundly positive effect.

6. Reach out to children who bully.

Children are more likely to talk to adults with whom they feel safe. By reaching out to a bully in a manner that is sensitive and that shows you are here to listen, you are more approachable and can therefore be more helpful. With the intention to help the child learn, grow and make amends, we can effectively and realistically address bullying.

7. Talk about it.

The more we discuss bullying and the ways to address it, the more hope we have for a healthy and productive future for our children.

8. Develop the child’s resiliency by using exercises on Anti-Bullying Skills found in Resilient Children.

Stopping bullying means that we create a culture which desires to engage with children and to help them build resilience, self awareness and assertiveness. Helping children to express their feelings in healthy ways, as well as validating these feelings and experiences, are tools for us to buffer the effects of, and more importantly, to prevent bullying. Resilient Children has key tools to develop all of these skills and more, such as problem-solving, healthy communication, and friendships skills.

Further Reading

1.  “Eight Keys to End Bullying.” Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/eight_keys_to_end_bullying

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