The most prevalent types of bullying are social and verbal (about 40%). Physical bullying accounts for about 30% and cyberbullying is on the rise at 9%. Bullying most often occurs at or around school but is also common wherever children are together in the community. Unfortunately, bullying often goes unreported. Bullying can be very serious and can affect your child’s mood, self-esteem, and academic performance.
Being proactive can help identify, prevent, or stop bullying. Take time every day to talk to your children. Ask them powerful questions (What was one challenging thing you encountered today?) instead of questions that lead to one-word answers like “fine” (How was your day?). Look for signs that your child is being bullied. Sudden changes in attitude, sleep patterns, or appetite can be indicative of a problem. Fear of riding the bus, going to school, or changes in friendships can also be signs of bullying. Ask about how their social time (lunch/recess/after school) is going since this can be different than what is observed in the classroom. Of course, there may be physical indicators too; torn clothes, unexplained cuts or bruises, damaged personal property, etc.
Bullying is never appropriate and is almost always intentional. It is based on an imbalance of power; most bullies are threatened by what their victim represents (con dent, smart, nice, popular). Children that are bullied often are scared, feel isolated, experience depression, and feel they have nowhere to turn. They may also be too afraid or embarrassed to report it.
If your child is suffering, let them know they are not alone. Tell them that bullying is unfortunately not uncommon and that it is not their fault. Children can feel helpless when being bullied so it is important to point out their strengths and how they’ve used them successfully in other situations. Being brave when confronted by a bully, or using social intelligence to help navigate around situations where they may be vulnerable for example. To help keep their confidence from diminishing, brainstorm some ways that they can use one of their strengths effectively in this situation. It is important to listen actively, not overreact, and to let them know you are taking them seriously. Once trust is established, you can start planning a solution together.
At Beech Acres Parenting Center we believe the best way to help children is through their parents. You have the strengths you need to raise capable, caring, contributing children and we’re here to help. To learn more about addressing bullying or other parenting issues schedule a parent coaching session today.
You can download a PDF of our “Fast Facts” on bullying here. Be sure to follow our blog and sign up for our parenting newsletter for up to date information on bullying and other important parenting topics.