October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, so I've picked the perfect time to discuss how to squash a bully in his or her tracks! I remember a particular girl who told the school I stuffed my bra. My chronic back pain would indicate that her rumors were viciously untrue, but as kids can be cruel, it spread like wildfire. I also remember being intimidated, slandered, and harassed by a senior in high school who was 10 times my size my freshman year of high school. It felt like torture, and it was. As a kid, I couldn't see beyond the experience. I could acknowledge that they were crazy or jealous, but other than that I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Neither can your kids.
Bullying can make a day at school feel like an eternity. Even worse, when I was a kid, we didn't have social media or cyberbullying to worry about. Nowadays, kids can get bullied at every turn and corner. It means a child has almost no break from bullying, unlike the kids of my generation. If your kid is being bullied, tell your little one to try these tactics:
Ignore and Walk Away
It's painful when you're ignored, and if you're looking for a reaction and get none? It's awful. Your child's bully wants a reaction. Tell your child to not respond and, if applicable, walk away. If a bully sees that you don't react, he or she will feel as if he or she has lost control over how your kiddo is feeling, which is a very powerful way to squash that bully!
Safety in Jeopardy: Protect Yourself
If your physical safety is compromised by this big bad bully, protect yourself from harm. And most importantly, tell your child to notify an adult or teacher. No one can help your child if he won't talk about it.
If the bullying is online, tell your child to have some faith as it's easier to prove and save a bullying post than it is to prove a nasty conversation that may have happened in the classroom hallways. Defeat the bully by:
- Saving every post or comment this bully makes.
- Reporting EACH incident. It can be tiring as Internet bullies tend to feel safe "behind the computer" and so there may be numerous incidents of bullying to report, but it is mandatory to report each event.
- Blocking the bully on social media and email.
- Calling the police if the bully threatens harm. No one should ever intimidate or harass your child, and teaching him or her to stick up for him or herself is key to success in life now and later!
Good people to report cyberbullying to would be parents, teachers, school counselors, or any trusted adult. Let your child know that even if she doesn't tell you, it's important she tell an adult she trusts if someone is bullying her.
Laugh It Off
If your kid's bully makes a move, your kid will really unnerve her bully if she laughs off the bully's comments. This is incredibly difficult for many kids to do, but when a kid attempts this, it's bound to deflate that bully!
Pair Up With Another Friend
Joining forces with another friend will make the bully more intimidated. It's very easy to single out one person and make her feel small but much harder to do this when that person is not alone and with another friend.
Things You Should Tell Your Child
Bullies usually bully due to jealousy, to feel popular, to gain power, or because the bully him or herself is being bullied. It has nothing to do with your child's worth, and reiterating this is so important. Reminding your child that there is no blame in his game will help your little one deal with bullying. Encouraging your child to do things that make him happy and relieve stress will help him cope with the stress of bullying. Frequent playdates and social gatherings with loved friends and family members will boost your kiddo's feel-good meter again. And most importantly, although it is very difficult for children to grasp this, remind your kids that this too shall pass and a year from now, Mr. Big Bad Bully won't be so important to your kid. Moms, you may also want to share a story about being bullied as it could help your child feel as if you've been there, which most likely you have been.
Bullying Within Friendships
If your child is being bullied by a supposed "friend," this is a great teachable moment to talk about what real friendships look like. As much as it hurts, learning who to have in your life and who not to have can be a great life lesson. Perhaps your passive kid tends to follow other kids and has ended up being bullied by a stronger personality — and one that you feel is a bad influence. This experience can teach your child how important it is to be aware of the type of crowd he or she is hanging out with and why hanging with the cool dogs means you're going to get fleas sometimes, and it's not worth it.
A real friend won't ignore a friend, exclude a friend, gossip about a friend, etc. If your child's "friend" is behaving as such, this kid is a bully in "friend's clothing."
Bullying is a sad but common life experience that many kids go through. Teaching our children how to assert themselves and manage difficult and unkind people will serve them long into adulthood. We all know bullies live on and grow up into adults and sometimes later on into parents. Support your child through this experience, and he or she will come out stronger!