Bullying refers to acts of unwanted aggression and is a behavior that is often repeated and habitual. With a perceived power imbalance, bullying can take multiple forms and is seen most frequently in educational settings and on social platforms. Recent studies show that over 70% of young people have witnessed bullying in their schools, and approximately 9% of students grades 6–12 have experienced cyber bullying.
As a mom, Stephanie Britt claims that recognizing your child is being bullied is mentally taxing and can be a difficult situation to navigate. She provides the following tips to parents:
1. Be Your Child’s Go-to Person
The best starting point is to build a foundation of trust with your child from the beginning. Make your relationship with your child a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing how they feel. Stephanie Britt claims that it is important to be an open and active listener. When you have a strong foundation of trust, your child is more likely to tell you what’s been bothering them. The goal is to keep the line of communication open and to make them feel like they can come to you with any issue that may arise.
2. Coach Your Child on How to React in Certain Situations
Although it may be tempting to retaliate, it is imperative that parents take the time to connect with their child and formulate the proper response to the problem. Ensure your child that the incident is not their fault and work to understand the complexities of the situation. However, make sure your child is not bullied because she is unkind or braggadocios. There are times when kids bully weak children but there are times when kids are finally standing up for themselves. Make sure your child is NEITHER a target OR a BULLY! Stephanie Britt says by teaching her diplomacy, getting along with everyone, not trying to always be queen bee or forcing her own agenda will keep her away from being a target as well as standing up for herself when necessary.
Teach them that body language and tone of voice can help make them appear confident — bullies tend to pick on kids they think they can get a reaction from. Teach your child that it’s okay to tell an adult about the situation if needed or when boundaries are broken, and she must stand up for herself. Seeking the support of a teacher or administrator will help establish an open line of communication, and a trusted adult can help monitor the situation. And sometimes simply talking with the “bully” in a rehearsed way to let them know this behavior is hurtful and not OK can bring about understanding and change.
3. Tell-tale Signs Your Child is Being Bullied at School
Many children will find it hard to talk to their parents about being bullied. Stephanie Britt says there may be times that they see it as embarrassing and humiliating. But there are a few telltale signs you can watch out for to know when to talk to them:
- A change in attitude towards an activity your child previously loved.
- More frequent headaches, stomach aches and feeling sick.
- Spending more time in their bedroom, alone.
- Not going to the bathroom at school. Some bullies pick on children there, away from the supervision of adults.
- Losing friends, they previously had.
- Engaging in negative self-talk.
- Eating disorder
It is crucial that if a child exhibits any of the above signs, that parents take the necessary precautions by asking questions. While parents ultimately cannot stop bullying, they can help their children to be more resilient amidst situations they have no control over, which will also help them navigate the adult world when they grow up. Stephanie Britt wants people to understand and know the difference of normal teasing or bullying. Knowing when to react and when to ignore is important. And when to remove your child from the situation verses navigating it appropriately. Sometimes parents should intervene, sometimes the children need to work it out themselves. But we must give our girls the tools they need to resolve conflict. Conflict resolution skills are the most important skill set one can have in leading a successful life!