How to empower your child to keep him safe from bullying.
Problems with low self-esteem and depression can last into adulthood and interfere with personal and professional lives. Bullies are affected too, even into adulthood; they may have difficulty forming positive relationships.
Some studies have even found a correlation with later criminal activities. If you're concerned that your child is a victim of teasing or bullying, look for these signs of stress:.
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First, give your child space to talk. If she recounts incidences of teasing or bullying, be empathetic. If your child has trouble verbalizing her feelings, read a story about children being teased or bullied. You can also use puppets, dolls, or stuffed animals to encourage a young child to act out problems. Once you've opened the door, help your child begin to problem-solve.
Role-play situations and teach your child ways to respond. You might also need to help your child find a way to move on by encouraging her to reach out and make new friends. She might join teams and school clubs to widen her circle. Try to find an intermediary: even if the bullying occurs outside of school, a teacher, counselor, coach, or after-school program director may be able to help mediate a productive discussion.
If you do find yourself talking directly to the other parent, try to do it in person rather than over the phone. Don't begin with an angry recounting of the other child's offenses. Set the stage for a collaborative approach by suggesting going to the playground, or walking the children to school together, to observe interactions and jointly express disapproval for any unacceptable behavior.
Check with your local school district to see if it has such a program. Schools and parents can work effectively behind the scenes to help a child meet and make new friends via study groups or science-lab partnerships. Some bully because they feel insecure.
Picking on someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker provides a feeling of being more important, popular, or in control. In other cases, kids bully because they simply don't know that it's unacceptable to pick on kids who are different because of size, looks, race, or religion. In some cases bullying is a part of an ongoing pattern of defiant or aggressive behavior. These kids are likely to need help learning to manage anger and hurt, frustration, or other strong emotions.
They may not have the skills they need to cooperate with others. Professional counseling often can help them learn to deal with their feelings, curb their bullying, and improve their social skills. Some kids who bully at school and in settings with their peers are copying behavior that they see at home. Kids who are exposed to aggressive and unkind interactions in the family often learn to treat others the same way. And kids who are on the receiving end of taunting learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak. Let your child know that bullying is unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.
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Try to understand the reasons behind your child's behavior. In some cases, kids bully because they have trouble managing strong emotions like anger, frustration, or insecurity.
In other cases, kids haven't learned cooperative ways to work out conflicts and understand differences. When looking for the influences on your child's behavior, look first at what's happening at home. It's natural — and common — for kids to fight with their siblings at home.
And unless there's a risk of physical violence it's wise not to get involved.
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