Part 3: If your child is the one being bullied
Children, who are victims of “bullying,” experience painful and possibly long-lasting emotional and physical scars that can affect them throughout their childhood and into adolescence and adulthood.
As parents, we must take action and help our children deal with their pain in a way that minimizes the long-term effects of the meanness or cruelty, enabling them to enjoy happy and healthy childhoods.
The following are points to consider:
- Address the “bullying.” If your child has been the victim of mistreatment like bullying, hopefully he or she has shared it with you, with friends or other adults, rather than hiding it and trying to deal with it on his or her own. Depending on their age and the level of meanness, some children are able to deal with a “bullying” situation pretty well, but more often than not, intervention of some sort is necessary. As a parent, it is important to address it immediately by acknowledging that it is happening and helping your child identify the feelings that he or she is feeling.
Have you noticed that your child appears overly angry, resentful, and fearful, or has eating issues or trouble sleeping? The more important question to ask, though, is whether your child is exhibiting unusual behaviors, mood changes, even unexplained physical injuries, or avoidance of friends and technology. Is your child behaving in a way that is the norm for him or her? Assuming your child is not experiencing some other obvious trauma in the family such as a death, severe illness, divorce or other family crisis, it is important to delve into what could be bothering your child. Your child could be the victim of “bullying” and needs your help.
If your child is reluctant to discuss it with a parent, a school counselor, or perhaps spiritual leader, then another outside professional should be considered.
Unfortunately, instances of “bullying” aren’t usually resolved without some form of intervention, which is critical if your child is to begin the process of healing.
- Takes steps to stop it. When your child alerts you to his or her being a victim of meanness, it is important to take the situation seriously and validate whatever feelings he or she is expressing. More importantly, it is equally important to strategize ways to empower your child to stop the “bullying.” Discuss ways to not only stop the mistreatment, but also prevent it from happening again. Encourage your child to be part of the solution because it will help your child develop confidence, courage, and resourcefulness.
When children take part in solving their problems, they will feel more in control and less like victims.
Encourage your child to stand up for himself or herself by confronting the bully, assuming your child feels safe enough to do so. Role-play some scenarios where you suggest possible words your child can use when speaking to the bully.
Being part of a buddy system is also a good strategy. Having a friend or multiple friends, who are aware of the “bullying,” can be helpful in confronting a mean person. There is always strength in numbers, and within a group, friends can give each other support, security, and confidence if one of them must deal with a bully.
- Deal with the pain it has caused your child. Because being a victim of “bullying” is painful, your child will need your help in overcoming the pain it has caused him or her. As a parent, it is important to continue to give your child love and support during and certainly after the incident. Continue to monitor your child’s behavior and see if he or she has reverted back to what was the norm prior to the “bullying.” Is your child smiling again? Does your child want to go to school and spend time with friends and participate in activities he or she loves? Is your child eating and sleeping well, and once again eager to go on social media sites?
As a parent, you will recognize if there are still unresolved issues and whether further intervention by a professional, is perhaps warranted. Only you can determine how to best deal with your child’s ongoing pain, if it does persist. The good news is that you don’t have to deal with it alone; your local school and your community usually have resources to help you and your family.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.