It’s the classic scenario that plagues playgrounds, classrooms and just about everywhere – the bully. Even adults can think back to our grade school days and remember that mean kid who would humiliate others or even become violent. And technology nowadays makes it too easy for kids to take the taunting online creating hurtful, cyber nightmares. What provokes these kids? What do their parents have to say? If your child is getting the brunt of a toxic, bully situation, these questions have probably left you more baffled and upset than not.
One thing is for sure, and that is bullying is not OK. It’s in fact a mental health concern. Bullying can affect physical and emotional health, both in the short term and later in life. It can lead to physical injury, social problems, emotional problems, and even death. Those who are bullied are at increased risk for mental health problems, headaches, and problems adjusting to school. Bullying also can cause long-term damage to self-esteem, according to the Department of Health and Human Services – National Institutes of Health.
While it certainly stirs up emotions, experts say this kind of behavior boils down to self-confidence and a need for control on the bully’s end. The bully will either project their insecurities onto someone else or call attention to another’s appearance, skills and abilities to draw attention away from their own.
The good news is there are so many effective ways you and your child can stop a bully, establish a positive self-awareness and move on feeling more confident and stronger than before.
1. Know Who You Are
We are all different – embrace it! The world would be so boring if we each had the same hair color, ideas and life stories. Taking time to remind your child they are perfect just the way they are will go a long way for their self-confidence. Let’s say someone made mean comments about a birthmark. Turn an uncomfortable situation into a lighthearted one by telling your child, “they are just jealous they don’t have one.” Perhaps a classmate made fun of a certain pair of shoes worn. Encourage your child to stand tall next time they get confronted and say, “I actually like my shoes.” There’s not much a bully can do if they can’t shake your confidence.
2. Hold Bullies Accountable
It can be uncomfortable for children, especially if they are the victim of a bully, to break the silence. Ignoring a problem, however, will not always make it go away. There’s also a very clear difference between bullying and assault. Should your child become involved in a violate or inappropriate situation, don’t hesitate to involve parents, teachers, coaches, daycare managers, etc. Violence is also never the way to combat bullying. Just like fighting fire with fire, the problem simply becomes worse.
3. Set an Example
Our kids look up to us in so many ways. Showing your children how to rise above a situation and not let someone get the best of you is a great way to be supportive and lead by example. Some bullies, unfortunately, never grow out of it. Share with your child a similar situation you may have dealt with at the office, with a friend or when you were growing up. How did that make you feel? What did you do about it? Did it help? When your children see someone else has experienced a version of what they are going through, the situation doesn’t seem as daunting. And if there’s ever an opportunity to intervene, encourage your children to always stick up for others. They too can lead by example.
Were our tips helpful? Do you have tips you’d like to share on stopping a bully? Leave your comments below and share with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
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