child safety

Stop Bullying-How We as Parents can Intervene

stop bullying How do we stop bullying?

As previously mentioned, bullying is not an issue that should be brushed aside as “just how kids are.”

If you suspect your child may be a bully, or you suspect your child may be the victim of a bully, you should act quickly to intervene and diffuse the situation.

In either situation the first step is always to talk to your child and maintain open communication.

You should also contact your child’s teacher(s) and other staff at your child’s school as you begin to assess the situation and as you work to resolve any problems that exist.

Intervening when your child is a bully

If you suspect your child may be bullying you have an absolute responsibility to step in and put an end to the behavior.

If you are approached by your child’s school or another child’s family about a situation in which your child is bullying another child, be careful to not be too defensive, but at the same time, do not jump to any conclusions until you have an opportunity to discuss the situation with your child – remember there are always two sides to every story.

If after an open and honest conversation with your child, in which you must make clear the severity of the situation, you do not feel your child is truly the aggressor in the situation, work with a school counselor or social worker to come to an appropriate conclusion to the situation.

If however, it does appear that your child has engaged in bullying behavior it may be very difficult to accept, but you must face the situation head on.

It is in the best interest of your child and the victim to put an end to the bullying right away. Here are some guiding principles to help you with the situation:

  • Do not make excuses for your child.
  • Make it clear to your child that you take the bullying seriously and you will not tolerate this type of behavior.
  • Maintain and consistently enforce family rules. Utilize positive reinforcement when your child follows the rules and appropriate negative consequences for breaking the rules (such as the withholding of benefits or privileges).
  • Stay involved and supportive of your child’s school and extra-curricular activities. Stay informed of what they are doing and whom they are spending time with.
  • Encourage your child to channel their energy into more positive activities, such as sports, clubs, or music lessons.
  • If the above steps do not result in noticeable, positive changes in your child’s behavior, consult with a mental health professional.

Intervening when your child is a victim

If you suspect your child may be the victim of a bully, begin a dialogue with your child to better assess the situation. Subtle questions may include:

  • Who do you play with at recess?
  • Who do you spend time with at school?
  • Are there any kids at school you do not like?
  • Why don’t you like them?
  • Are they ever mean to you or leave you out of things?
  • Is anyone at school picking on you?
  • Are there any kids at school teasing you or being mean to you?
  • Do any kids at school leave you out of things on purpose?

Some questions to ask staff at your child’s school include:

  • How does my child get along with the other students in his/her class?
  • With whom does he/she spend free time?
  • Have you ever suspected my child is being bullied?

If after speaking with your child and school staff, you do not think your child is being bullied, continue to be observant and engaged in your child’s life and activities.

Steps parents can take

If you think your child IS being bullied, there are many steps you can take to intervene. Use your best judgment and take the steps that best fit your personal situation.

  • Never tell your child just to ignore the bullying. They will feel as if you are just going to ignore it and they should not have bothered to tell you in the first place.
  • Do not blame the victim.
  • Ask your child for details – who was involved, what happened, when, where, how often, whether any other children or adults witnessed the incidents. Learn as much as you can about what has happened.
  • Do not encourage physical retaliation – it will likely result in your child being disciplined at school.
  • Work with your child’s school. It is the school’s responsibility to coordinate the response to bullying in school.
  • While your emotions are bound to run high, try to keep them under control. Stay rational and stick to the facts when working with school officials to remedy the situation.
  • Your child may be afraid to talk to you or school officials about what is happening for fear of making the situation worse. You must work with the school to assure that your child will not suffer repercussions for “telling” on the bully. It is absolutely essential that the victim be provided solid protection from any further harassment.
  • Make contact with the bully’s parents. Often they are unaware of their child’s behavior and will want to help work with you to make positive changes.
  • If the situation between your family and the bully’s family is hostile arrange to have the school counselor or social worker act as a mediator.

Guidelines for protecting your child from bullying behavior:

  • Good self-esteem is your child’s best defense against becoming a victim. Encourage your child to make contact with a friendly student in his/her class and/or help your child join groups of children to participate in activities such as sports , music, or art to improve his/her ability to make friends. Your child’s teacher may be able to recommend students with whom your child can make friends or activities in which your child might excel.
  • Encourage the development of any talents of hobbies – another good self-esteem booster.
  • Stay involved and supportive of your child’s school and extra-curricular activities.
  • Do not allow your child to hang around empty playgrounds or stay late at school alone. Teach them to always use the buddy system.
  • Do not allow your child to carry large sums of money or valuable possessions.
  • Always keep the lines of communication open with your child. Encourage them to tell you about troubling situations.
  • Sometimes children exhibit certain behaviors that irritate or provoke others. If this is the case, help your child to find more suitable ways to interact with friends and peer groups.

Why are some kids bullies?

What are some signs your child may be a bully?

What are the signs your child is being bullied?

What are the effects of bullying?

Return from Stop Bullying to My Child Safety.

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