Bullying is not just a problem which older children face, but even preschoolers may become a victim of a bully. Children may face verbal bullying (name-calling and teasing), physical bullying (biting, kicking, hitting) or social rejection (intentionally excluding the child from a group/groups). Bullying used to be a tween or teen problem but, now it has been found that even 2-6 year olds are being tormented.
Some psychologists believe this is because children are exposed to aggression on TV and video games and also from their older siblings. But whatever be the cause, it is heartbreaking when your child has to tackle bullies. Here are some great tips on to how to help your kids deal with bullies:
How to help your kids deal with bullies
If your child is being bullied at school, you may not even know about it for quite some time. Children who are very young, accept the treatment meted out to them as normal, because they just do not know what is acceptable and what is not. The bully might make them feel that they are responsible for what is happening to them. Usually, children who are sensitive, shy and nervous are targeted. There are signs which can reveal if your child is being bullied, then you can find out the parenting tips while dealing with a bullied child in school.
Signs which can reveal if your child is being bullied
Sometimes, you may miss signs of bullying especially if the bullying is not physical but emotional or mental. Your child may become withdrawn, depressed and refuse to do all the things he/she liked doing. Here are some signs you can check for:
- Refuses to go to school
- Complains of headaches, stomach aches and other aches and pains
- Nightmares and other sleep difficulties
- Refusal to eat or binge eats
- Appears lonely and sad
- Avoids interacting with peers on weekends and after school
- Talks about loneliness in school
- Talks about feeling worthless and helpless
- Becomes afraid to ride the school bus
- Grades drop
- Any talk about self-harm including suicide
Refusing to go to school is definitely a red flag, especially if he/she used to enjoy school earlier. One of the ways how to help your kids deal with bullies is to help them deal with mean behavior. Some kids can say pretty mean things, which may upset your child, but they may not do anything on a regular basis. Sensitive children need to be taught that those children may not know that words hurt, and so on.
What to do to help your child against bullying
Never judge your child
Your child is already undergoing emotional trauma, so you should never ask any questions like “Did you say or do anything to set off/upset those kids?” or asking them if they did anything first. One of the parenting tips while dealing with a bullied child in school, is make him/her feel that they are absolutely not to blame for the bullying they are facing. The bully is already making your child feel bad about himself, so you have to handle the situation with great care, and not add to his trauma. Giving unconditional support and love is one of the best ways how to help your kids deal with bullies.
Help your child to open up to you
You may suspect that your child is being bullied but he/she has not said anything to you. You have to be patient and when the time is right (after they have a chance to eat, change and relax after school), ask gently about friends, school activities and if he is happy. When your child feels he can trust you, he will open up and communicate.
Teach your child verbatim, how to deflect an attack
Children are very vulnerable and bullying is a new experience, especially if they are single children. You have to teach your kid how exactly to behave when the bully approaches or starts bullying.
So what to do if your child is being bullied – tell them to look the bully in the eye, and act confident. Bullies enjoy the feeling of power they get by making their victims upset or angry or frustrated. To diffuse their power, your child can ignore the bully, say ‘Whatever’ and walk away. The bully has to feel that targeting your child is not worth his/her time!
Help your child make friends
Bullies usually target loners, or children who stand out (they may look different, be new to school or even be good at studies or music etc). One of the best tips for children who are being bullied in school, is to ask their teachers to identify the children who may be potentially good friends with your child. They may share the same interests and have something to talk about. Besides, if the form of bullying has been social exclusion, then helping them make friends is one of the best parenting tips while dealing with a bullied child in school. Having a few friends or even just one friend is just another good way how to help your kids deal with bullies.
Do not meet with the bully
Meetings with bullies and their parents may not be as successful as you may think. It makes your kid be on the spot and the bully may become more aggressive. However, you may try counseling the kid along with the school counselor. This will have two results – the bully/bullies will know your child is not alone, and that the school has an eye on him/them.
Ask the school to conduct anti-bullying workshops
There is still hope for young bullies, if they are caught in time. Instead of shaming them, schools should clearly explain why hurting others in any way is just not acceptable. If it is reinforced weekly, then they most probably will change their behavior, as their behavior patterns are not set yet. Bystanders can be taught to intervene and playground monitors can be asked to watch out for your kid, during recess and lunch.
Last but not the least, you have to let your child know, as a family, how much you love and care for him/her. They can always count upon your support and that you’ll always have their back. A bullied child needs all the reassurances and the love they can get. If your kid voices suicidal thoughts, take him/her to get professional help, and do all you can to make him/her feel worthwhile and happy.