Every day of the week, all across America, there are children returning to their mothers asking for more and more pocket money to see them through the week. But no matter how much money the child is given, he or she always seems to arrive home hungry after school.
It seems rather odd, but once the child eventually opens up to his family about what’s really happening to them when they leave the house in the morning, the parents learn their child has been surrendering their pocket money to another student who has been bullying him or her day-in and day-out.
It’s absolutely heart breaking to learn this is happening to one of your children, but the fact remains that your child has become terrified of being beaten up yet again for resisting the bullies extortion attempt.
As a parent, what are you supposed to do in these situations? While the answers may seem obvious to some, the proper response isn’t always so black and white. These can be tremendously delicate situations, after all. Unfortunately, in spite of all the recent public awareness campaigns and attempts to reduce this kind of behaviour, bullying remains rampant in many, if not all, schools.
Some might dismiss it as kids just being kids perhaps, and bullying is hardly a new phenomenon, but since it frequently leads to deep emotional scars and numerous other negatives, it’s crucial that today’s parents develop ways to help their children cope with these situations. The following are a few tips on the best ways to assist your child when it comes to coping with bullying.
First Identify the Presence of Bullying
Many kids have been subjected to bullying over the generations — even by their siblings, but it’s dangerous. Bullying can be described as subjecting a weaker individual to torment through verbal, physical, and/or psychological torture. This can manifest through calling someone names, extorting money and other valuables, and more recently, through cyberbullying. There are numerous forms of bullying, but they all lead to the same end; emotional torture for the victims.
Why do kids bully other kids?
There are any number of reasons why some kids choose to bully their peers. But the most consistent reason is that by preying on victims who seem weaker or somehow appear physically “inferior”, the bully’s main goal is to boost their ego. Sometimes, a child will find themselves being victimized for no other reason than they have a mild deformity, be that a cleft lip, or protruding ears, or… it doesn’t matter much to a bully, so long as a kid is, or appears to be, a little bit “different”, they have all the excuse they need to torment them.
Identifying the signs that bullying is taking place
Trying to figure out whether your child is a victim of bullying isn’t necessarily easy, and in fact, can often be quite difficult. Sometimes a child will be open about what’s happening to them with their parents while other times they may just come home with a “mysterious” injury.
The best approach for parents is to note any unusual behavior with their child and be cognizant should he or she display any tell-tale symptoms of being bullied such as anxiety or a distinct lack of happiness, in other words, depression. Also, if your child never wants to talk about school or his/her relationships with other kids, it may well be due to their shame of being a victim of bullying.
It’s not at all unusual for a child to try and conceal their victimization from their parents. Nevertheless, as a parent, if you suspect this could be the situation, it’s your duty to talk to your child about it. Hopefully, after a good sit-down session with your child you’ll discover this isn’t their reality to begin with. Hey, kids can be moody too, after all. Not every emotionally distressed teenager is necessarily a bullying victim.
However, in light of the deep emotional scars bullied kids often carry throughout their entire lives, just being there to listen, emphasize, and offer comfort with respect to the torment they’ve been going through can go a long way towards helping them better cope with the situation they face at school every day.
Of course, while being there for your child and providing emotional support in their time of need is hugely important for their mental health and confidence, as a parent you obviously have a duty to be proactive about making sure the bullying never happens again. To this end, given that the bullying is probably taking place at school (and/or in addition to wherever else the child regularly frequents), the first thing you need to do is inform your child’s teachers and other school authorities about what has been happening to them while under their watch.
Moreover, you might also consider taking your child to a counselor. Involving the teachers or a counselor at your child’s school is always a wise move. Whenever a teacher is involved, they will always try to arrange a viable solution to the bullying problem, if only with the aim of ensuring every student has a conducive learning environment. Also, since most schools have policies regarding bullying, it’s only helpful to be conversant with these policies as they can offer solutions you may not have considered.
How to Help Your Child
Whenever your child opens up to you about their life, it’s your duty as a parent or guardian to pay keen attention to what they have to say. Children may be reluctant to open up to their parents about being bullied just out of embarrassment, so when they do, it’s crucially important to be supportive and try to work out potential solutions to their situation.
For starters, it’s almost always a good idea to get in touch with the bully’s parents. If nothing else, meeting them might offer you some insight as to why their child has become a bully in the first place. Remember, while it might be hard to find much sympathy for a kid who's been making your own child’s life miserable, most of the time there’s something emotionally wrong with the bully that is responsible for their anti-social behavior. And sadly, as often as not, that problem stems from the bully’s home life and their relationship with their own parents and siblings.
In extreme cases, some parents consider surgical approaches to help their children cope with their unique features. While this is an often tabooed subject, kids born with cleft lips and protruding ears are at risk of suffering from low-self esteem and negative body image. As a parent, unfortunately there is no right answer. If your child is resilient and unphased by their natural features there should be no pressure to make them feel at odds with there body however, if you see your child suffering a great deal, it may be worth the research.
Advise Your Kids about the Bullying Menace
Some parents encourage their kids to always fight back whenever they’re being bullied, similar to the way a new inmate needs to stand up for themselves in a federal penitentiary, lest they forever be marked as a punk, a victim. But such advice isn’t always practical or realistic. In fact, it might result in your child’s self-esteem becoming even worse, if, when confronted by a bully, they discover they’re either too scared or simply incapable of defending themselves.
Put simply, the best advice you can offer your child is to try and stay away from bullies, restrain their anger when confronted, and to always report bullies to the relevant authorities.