The playground can be one of the toughest places for your child to navigate. While childhood should be a time of exploration, wonder and joy, the sad reality of today’s schools and playgrounds is that many children are made absolutely miserable because of bullying and teasing. There are all kinds of reasons why one child bullies another, and why one particular child might capture the attention of the local bully. What’s important to you as a parent is that your child is protected as much as possible.
When your bundle of joy enters the world, you want to believe you will always protect them and that you will never let anything harm them. However your child will most certainly grow up, and will at some point face a world that is not always so kind. Therefore, it is important to fortify your child from a very young age against bullying and other social problems. By involving your child in at least one social activity as early as possible (from a toddler and onward), you can be purposeful about helping your child develop well both socially and emotionally. The more developed your child’s social skills, the better they will be able to navigate social and playground situations. This is true even for the shyest of children. The child that handles themselves well socially is not usually subject to bullying.
As a parent, it is important to be purposeful about talking to your child every day about their school day, and the things that have happened to them. Most children will not come right out and tell their parents they are being bullied. In fact, even when asked directly, children will often deny it (even while being ruthlessly bullied). This is because, getting your child to share their innermost thoughts and turmoils is not about asking the “right questions”, but about developing the right type of relationship with them. Consistently show an interest in every area of your child’s life. This helps develop a secure, comforting relationship in which they feel safe talking to you, and telling you about the things they experience outside the home. Ultimately, you can only help your child deal with bullies if they reveal to you they are being bullied.
Deal With It!
Problems with bullying should never be ignored. Your child needs to know they are worth protecting and fighting for. Once you become aware of bullying, talk with your child’s teacher or principal about it. One of their roles is to protect your child from bullies and anything else harmful. If the bullying continues, experts recommend attempting to schedule a calm meeting with the bully’s parents to help resolve things.
At home, encourage your child by highlighting their strengths and positive attributes. Share techniques with them for dealing with bullies and enroll them in extra-curricula activities; especially self-defense and martial arts classes. Anything that builds confidence, encourages good social skills and interaction with others is a positive.
Finally, as you help your child deal with bullying, remember to speak in a language they understand. What seems simple to you is not always simple to them. An excellent way to bring home a point or principle is through role play. Role play is fun and it is concrete. Begin with you playing the part of the bully while your child role plays techniques you have taught them on dealing with a bully. Then switch roles. This allows your child to practice their response and solidifies the techniques firmly in their mind.