A Parental Guide to Bully Prevention
Bullying Tips for Parents/Caregivers
As the children prepare for their first day back to school with their supply list checked off, we wanted to assist parents with some tools as well. As parents, we do not always hit the mark of understanding the struggles our little ones may be experiencing, especially in school. It can get difficult managing school socially and academically. It can literally be quite exhausting. However, sometimes an added layer is introduced which causes additional and unnecessary stress – that added layer is bullying.
Types of Bullying
Bullying has become so complex as the world evolves that it is now broken down into different categories. Let’s take a look a few of the most common types of bullying in more detail:
Physical bullying is a form of bullying that includes hitting, shoving, throwing things at a person, and damaging or even stealing their property. Physical bullying may be one of the easiest forms of bullying that an adult can pick up on due to the likelihood of harm being visible.
Verbal bullying is presented in the form of name-calling, teasing, or insults to put their peers down.
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place through digital devices such as tablets, cell phones, or computers. When this form of bullying is present, the attacker attempts to embarrass or harass the peer by posting or sharing harmful content about that peer. Cyberbullying can be via text messaging or through social media apps such as Facebook, Kik, Instagram, and Snapchat, just to name a few of the most common ones used by youth.
Social bullying is a form of bullying that occurs when a peer is purposely excluded from groups, subjected to rumors spread in hopes of ruining their reputation, or publicly humiliated, and often involves the attacker coaching other peers not to befriend the victim.
Hidden Signs to Explore
According to stopbullying.gov, research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior. As a result, here are a few signs that you can watch for when assessing if your child is being bullied:
Be aware of your child’s normal vs. abnormal behaviors. Sometimes the hardest thing for children to do is to find words to express the harm done to them. As a result, one of the first areas we see a change in is behavior. How behavior changes will vary from one child to the next.
For example, if you have a typically bubbly child that tends to light up rooms upon entrance and all of a sudden the behaviors shift to being quieter and being isolated, this may be a sign to explore further.
Another example would be a child who is normally easy-going and quiet but suddenly they are having more angry outbursts than usual. Before you write it off as just behavioral issues, explore to make sure the feelings match the behaviors presented.
Change in academic performance is another sign to explore. If a child is a victim of bullying at school, the last thing the child may be concerned about is their academics. When danger occurs, most people transition into what we call survival mode. Survival mode can create three different responses: fight, flight, or freeze. Within a child, each of these responses may appear differently and cause frustration among parents, because the responses can range from mild to severe behaviors.
Preventative Tips from the Therapist
- Create a nurturing and open relationship with your child. Make it easy for your child to trust you with difficult and scary topics.
- Create daily or weekly check-ins to show that you are not only invested in academic intelligence but just as invested in their emotional wellbeing.
- Understand what differentiates a good/great day from a bad day at school. Go into great detail. This way you can pick up on behaviors and social cues throughout the school year.
- Seek professional help if you feel that the skills that you are providing your child are ineffective. This does not speak badly about your parenting. In my honest opinion, it speaks highly of your parenting. As a mentor to your child, it is important you demonstrate the importance of seeking additional assistance when you cannot independently complete tasks. By normalizing the process of seeking help, you are doing a tremendous service to your child.