Teasing may be a common part of childhood, but there is a fine line between teasing and bullying, and often that line gets overstepped. Bullying is a repeated aggression against someone else that hurts them mentally, physically or emotionally. It can take the form of exclusion, gossip, hitting, threatening, name calling or embarrassing someone.
There is usually a power imbalance that the bully uses to threaten or humiliate the person they are targeting, and this creates a situation in which it is hard for the child being bullied to stand up for themselves out of fear of someone that has more physical or social power than them.
As a parent, there are many things that can be done to support and encourage a child that is being bullied.
- If it’s a difficult subject to bring up with a child, the parent can watch a television show or read a book about bullying with a child. Ask your son or daughter questions about how the characters feel and what they might do to change the situation.
- If a child talks about being bullied, parents should be sure to not brush off the situation and assume that it’s a regular part of growing up. Bullying can have serious, long-term damage, and the earlier that it is stopped the better.
- Once the child has opened up about the situation to a parent, it is important to reassure them that it is not their fault they are being bullied and that they don’t deserve the way they are being treated.
- There is no “one size fits all” way to stop bullying, but the child should have more than one supporter. A parent should let teachers at school know what they think it going on and have the child be in contact with trusted people at school.
- Teaching a child to stand up to the bully by saying no, walking away, ignoring them, or not reacting to the provocation can help them deal with the situation. Try practicing these strategies with a child or write down what to do or say when confronted by the bully.
- Sometimes a child needs new opportunities to meet new friends; they can do this by going to activities outside of school such as theater clubs, scouts, and sports teams.
For more information on cyberbullying, watch a recent Fox 9 news segment featuring a Washburn Center clinician or read this additional resource page from OnlineSchools.org. Helping a child prevent or stop bullying can make school and their environment a much happier place.
Note: This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition. Call 612-871-1454 to learn more about Washburn Center’s mental health services for children.
Sources: www.stopbullying.gov and www.ncpc.org