Teaching Kids how to Deal with Bullies at School

Bullying comes in many forms. A child may be physically, or mentally abused. A bully can threaten non-compliant victims with beatings. A bully may exclude a victim from group activities. A bully can say “mean” and “demeaning” words to another child.

Bullying is more complex than just bully/victim. What causes children to bully? What are the characteristics of children who are bullied? What can parents do to help children who are bullied and how the school must be involved.

When we see our children hurting, our first reaction is anger at the bully. Many parents want to give the bully, “a taste of his own medicine.” Remember, you are dealing with a problem that involves children.  Getting upset, shows your child that this is a terrible situation. It also models the type of behavior that you want to squelch. Relax, take a deep breath, and calmly think about how to approach the problem. This article will explore the child who bullies and the victim of bullying, and what, we, as parents can do to stop the bully.

◊ Characteristics Of a Bully ◊

1. The children may come from a home where violence is prevalent. Examples: Verbal violence, aggression towards someone weaker, corporal punishment of the child. The child sees bullying as okay because that is the way members of the family deal with problems.

2. Not all parents are like the first example. There are parents who worry about their children, and are upset when they discover their child is a bully. They find the following to suspect their children.

  Their child has new toys that another child gave them.    

  Brings home extra money.

   Talks about classmates disrespectfully. Laughs if he sees a child fall and gets hurt.

Talk to your child about this behavior. If he does not seem to care, have him checked by the pediatrician.

 2. When frustrated, the bully feels relief by hitting and pushing other children.

3. A bully is usually physically strong.

4. Violence, within his family framework, reinforces that rules are not necessary. Physical strength decides who is right.

5. At home, no one cares about her feelings, so she does not develop empathy for others.

6. Bullies feel popular because the other children are afraid of them. As a result, children try to please the bully. It gives the bully a sense of empowerment.

7. Some bullies are victims. They lash out at weaker children. This helps alleviate the pain they feel as victims of abuse.

8. Many bullies, without intervention, drop out of school. They may end up using drugs or show antisocial behavior.

Unless the “bully” children get help to learn how to deal with their emotions, they may end up in jail.

◊ Children Who Are Bullied ◊ Tend to be,

1. Sensitive – feelings are easily hurt.

2. May have low self-esteem, or have a quiet temperament (do not “rock the boat”).

3. Anxious or nervous about many social interactions.

4. They are likely to become depressed from the bullying behavior.

The victim children need to receive counseling. Without counseling, they may become bullies themselves. It is the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” They may lash out at others, or commit suicide because they cannot deal with the resultant pain, anxiety, frustration, and depression.

◊ Parental Involvement – Parents know their children best and should become involved when,

1. If you notice that your child is acting differently and he keeps saying, “nothing,” when asked, if he is all right. Look for the following signs:

        Frequent headaches

        Stomach aches

        Not wanting to go to school because she does not “feel good.”.

2. Ask questions about her day at school.

* Who do you eat lunch with?

* Who are your playmates at recesses?

* If you suspect that something is wrong, trust your feelings.

3. How to help your child deal with bullies.

* After you observe the above changes, casually talk to your child about children who bully other children. Tell him that if he is uncomfortable talking to you about any problems at school, he can talk to the school counselor, his teacher, or the principal.

* Reassure her that if bullying is taking place, that it is not her fault. Explain to her that, if she does not feel comfortable talking about it to you, that she can talk to the school counselor. Your child certainly needs to talk to someone. More than likely, after you initiate the opening dialogue, she will tell you everything.

* Talk about the situation. If your child asks you not to tell anyone, tell him that not talking about it, more problems arise.

* Promise her that you will not to make the problem worse. Tell him that if he is bullied, others are probably being bullied. Do not promise that you will not tell anyone.

* If your child is timid, practice how to deal with the problem. Encourage your child to look the bully in the eyes, and say, “Leave me alone”, and walk away.

◊ Getting the school involved ◊

1. Parents should talk to the teacher first. Tell her about the situation and ask her to help solve the problem. Changing seats may help.

2. Also, talk to the principal and counselor about the situation. The principal may bring the victim and bully into the office and conference with them.

3. The principal may conference with both parents (bully/victim)

4. Most aggressive acts happen at the school: cafeteria, bathrooms, recesses. The bathrooms need monitoring by an adult.

5. School based programs are effective in eliminating bully behavior.

*Assemblies, classroom lessons and discussion.

* Follow through on disciplining offenders. This is the only way to prove to children that you mean what you say.

The best advice is for all parents to prepare their children to the dangers of bullying behavior. Bullying behavior is increasing. It is time to do something to stop the problem.