Part 2: If your child witnesses bullying
If your child is around other children for any length of time, the likelihood is that he or she will see a child being unkind to another child, or even being a bully! It’s important to help our children recognize instances of “bullying” and then give them the strategies to combat it.
Some kinds of “bullying” can be harder to identify than others. Help your child recognize instances of bullying like the following: physical altercations on the playground, unkind words directed at others, spreading rumors on the Internet, using relationships or social status as a means of control. Some of the ways in which children are mean to each other or mistreat each other may not be considered “bullying” but are still hurtful and also need to be addressed.
It is equally important to discuss how your child can become an advocate for others and speak up for those children who may not be able to speak up for themselves.
But, observing instances of bullying and meanness can be scary and intimidating for children, and we certainly would not want them to intervene without the understanding and the skills needed to deal with those situations.
Below are some suggestions regarding ways we can support our children to be superheroes and intervene when they see children “bullying” other children.
- Encourage your child to practice empathy and kindness toward other children and help create caring communities in which children help and support each other and discourage any form of cruelty.
- If “bullying” does occur, encourage your child to find a teacher or other adult who can intervene and hopefully resolve the situation.
- If your child feels uncomfortable getting involved, he or she can speak to a teacher, parent or other trusted adult, in confidence, to report the incidence of unkindness. Your child needs to understand the importance of reporting acts of “bullying” or meanness. All too often, staying silent and not wanting to get involved leads to additional mistreatment, more extreme kinds of cruelty toward children or other, more serious, behaviors.
- When appropriate, being assertive and standing up for a friend or fellow student, who is being bullied, is another way your child can intervene.
“Bullying” is not a new childhood phenomenon. It has perhaps become more widespread, and we are certainly more aware of it, in all its forms. As parents and members of the community, we all need to advocate for treating all people with decency and respect. Let your children see that you value those things and that you intervene when others are being discriminated against or are being hurt. It might be helpful to discuss the many forms of intervention that are also possible. It could be a person-to-person discussion, it could be a written correspondence to an appropriate person or agency, and it can even be an anonymous reporting. Whatever form of involvement one chooses, the message we want to give to our children is that it’s important to get involved and help when we see an injustice, and, in this case, “bullying.”
Finally, just being caring and supportive of each other is the best way to avoid and counter acts bullying, and it is the true sign of a superhero.
Lily and her friends can help your child be a superhero too in the fight against bullying.