The recent media attention on bullying in the United States has brought a greater awareness to parents, teachers, and mental health professional over the last couple of years.
While schools continue to attempt to enforce a zero tolerance policy on bullying, this problem continues to persist. It is important to be aware of how this affects children, but we also need to equip them with the skills to deal with bullying effectively.
Skill 1: Keep Them Involved
A bully’s goal is to make their victim feel alone and powerless. Children can feel empowered when they make and maintain connections with loyal friends and supportive adults. Helping to identify a teacher, social worker, etc., in the school can help your child have a “go to” person at school.
Skill 2: Awareness
Often times children refuse to tell adults about bullying because they are convinced “it won’t help.” Many times, bullying can occur when the adults are not aware of what is going on. Bully’s often look for unsupervised opportunities. Children are left feeling isolated and alone, which can perpetuate bullying even more.
Skill 3: Act Quickly
The longer a bully has power over a victim, the stronger the hold becomes. Once the bully knows he has hooked you as his victim he will do it more. It is important to recognize the signs and tell an adult. Ignoring the behavior often is not the answer to bullying. Helping your child feel comfortable talking to you or an adult is important to act as quickly as possible.
Skill 4: Respond Assertively
The more a bully thinks he can pick on a victim without a response, the more he will do it. Children who master the skills of assertiveness are comfortable in responding to the bully in a way that does not invite further abuse. Remember, passive responses invite further abuse.
Skill 5: Use Non Verbal Communication
When teaching your child the skills of assertive communication, it is helpful to practice using body language to reinforce words.
• Maintain eye contact
• Keep your voice calm and even
• Stand an appropriate distance from the bully
• Use the bully's name when speaking to him