No one likes a bully. It’s especially tough to think about our own kids being bullied or even being a bully themselves. As parents, we have to make the tough decisions about how to teach our children what to do about bullies…how to handle them and how to avoid long-term emotional damage.
What about when it’s not your child specifically that’s being bullied, but one of their friends? What if your child asks you what he or she should do for their friend? How do you respond? These are tough questions and we know each parent will probably have to make their own decisions based on what they feel is best.
If you do face that situation where your child asks what they should do for their friend who is being bullied, here are a few ideas you might consider:
Praise them for asking you. The fact that they were able to muster the courage to take action, even if it’s talking to a parent, shows that they recognize that something is wrong. Let your child know that you are proud of them for seeing the issue and addressing it.
Tell an adult. If your child is witnessing the bullying of another child on a regular basis, one of the best things they can do is alert a teacher, counselor or parent. This is easier said than done, but it can make a big difference. Not only can the adult work to prevent the bullying from continuing, but they can also talk to the child who is being bullied to help them feel better.
Be a friend. One tragic scenario that tends to happen over and over again is a child who is being bullied being ignored by other children. This can cause the bullied child to withdraw even more. Encourage your child to be friendly to the kid who gets bullied. They can start by siting together at lunch or playing at recess.
Speak up. Sometimes, just saying something to a bully is enough to stop him or her in their tracks. Telling them to stop when the bully begins to pick on someone else can disrupt the situation just long enough for the bullied child to leave. This takes quite a bit of courage and it’s important that you talk to children about their own safety. The last thing you want to do is have your child suddenly become the victim of bullying themselves.
It’s a tricky situation and our hats go off to all parents who find themselves dealing with any form of bullying with their children. Try to stay positive and teach your children to be positive too. Negativity tends to lead to worse problems.