How Can I Make Sure My Child Doesn't Get Bullied?

Rebecca Scarlett By Rebecca Scarlett, 11th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

How to prepare your child for bullies and make sure he or she doesn't become a target.

How Can I Make Sure My Child Doesn't Get Bullied?

Bruises heal, but the scars from being constantly put down can last forever. Victims of severe bullying may doubt their competence and abilities long into adulthood. How can you, as a parent, protect your child from bullying at school?

Most schools have strong "zero-tolerance" policies for bullying. The problem with these policies, however, is that teachers can't enforce what they don't see. This results in psychological bullying, where hurtful comments and deliberate isolation from peers, rather than pushes and punches, ruin a child's school experience. This also has the unfortunate effect that when the picked-on child has finally had enough and decides to end the bullying him or herself by going after his or her tormentor physically, it is the child that has been secretly bullied for months, and not the bully, who ends up bearing the brunt of the "zero-tolerance" punishment. The days of standing up to the bully to end the bullying are, unfortunately, over, and we need to find other strategies to protect our children.

One of the best ways to "bully-proof" your child is to make sure they have high self-esteem before he or she even starts school. You don't want your child thinking that he or she is perfect, of course, but you should try to make sure that your child has a realistic idea of his or her strengths and weaknesses, and that he or she is not afraid to be proud of the strengths, or to admit the weaknesses.
Keeping your children involved in activities that they enjoy and at which they are sucessful will also buoy their self-esteen and help immunize them to the hurtful comments of bullies. It will also give them a wider circle of friends then they may have the opportunity to make at school, so even if they get picked on at school, they won't feel isolated. No parent wants to hear the painful cry "nobody likes me" coming from his or her child. It's just too heartbreaking.

Trying to teach your child social skills early on in his or her development will go a long way towards making sure he or she is not the target of a bully, and if he/she does end up in a bully's sights, will help protect him/her from lasting damage. By teaching your child that it is not acceptable to be mean to someone just because he or she is not good at something, you will both prevent your child from becoming a bully, and let your child know that if someone bullies him or her, it is the bully that has the problem, and not your child. Try explaining to your child that he/she is better at some things than others, and so is everybody else. He/she might be good at playing soccer, but making fun of someone who isn't good at soccer is not acceptable-how would he/she like it if he/she was mocked for his/her baseball skills (which may not be as strong as the soccer skills)? If this message is presented to children consistently, they will realise that it is not a problem if they are not good at everything. If a bully decides to pick on your child for being a slow runner, for example, your child might be able to reply "You're right, I'm not," and walk away, because he/she knows that being a slow runner is nothing to be ashamed of.

If your child is being picked on despite all of your best efforts, it is time to get involved with the school. Establishing a good rapport with your child's teachers can go a long way towards discovering just what is going on and forming a plan to stop it. Having adults punish a bully, or forcing the bully to apologize, rarely works. Anything that humiliates the bully simply increases his or her desire to bully, and if you give the appearance that your child needs you to "fight his/her battles" your child will simply appear weaker, and therefore as an even better target. It is usually more beneficial to find a social strategy that your child can implement (mostly) on his or her own. Of course, if you're worried that your child is in real danger, stronger methods of dealing with the problem, like switching classes or schools, or even involving the police, may have to be considered.
One of the hardest things about being a parent is the slow realization that you can't be at your child's side all the time as he or she gets older, and you can't protect your child from every hurtful look or comment. As much as we might want to go "mother tiger" sometimes and shake the sense into the bully tormenting our children, we need to find a way to teach our children to cope with these problems themselves. After all, they will be on their own one day.


Bullies, Bullying, Education, Kids

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
Rebecca Scarlett is a professional freelance writer with over 14 years of experience. She writes articles, essays, blogs, short stories, plays, poetry, songs, novels, and does copy editing. She has been published in print and extensively online. Scar...(more)

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author avatar smoothoperator
11th Aug 2010 (#)

Can be more crisp. Anyways I feel it is good.

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author avatar Infonymph
21st Sep 2011 (#)

While I agree making sure that your child has confidence is important so that he/she can avoid being targeted, it's at least as important for your child to know what to do about it once it starts. I agree that bullies often get mad when caught, but if there are social consequences for them as well; such as their parents suddenly watching them for this behavior, their friends' parents no longer allowing their children to hang out with the bully, as well as legal consequences (harassment/assault charges) it makes more of an impact. It's not enough not to be a target, a child needs to be confident enough not to be a bystander either. It takes a community to take down a bully or group of them.

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