Coping With Bullies
Bullying includes both physical and verbal threats and harassment, and unfortunately, it occurs in virtually all schools and communities. It's not a new phenomenon. Most of us parents can remember bullies, and their targets, from our own childhoods. While schools are becoming more aware of the problem -- many are trying to put prevention and intervention programs in place to address bullying -- there is a lot that parents can do to support their children.
If your child is being bullied, make sure that you are teaching him how to stand up for himself, how to appear strong even if he feels weak, and how to cope with bullying mentally and emotionally.
While it is appropriate for children who are being bullied to seek adult help, it is critical that they develop their own skills to cope with the bully. You might want to role-play bully situations, with the child playing both the bully and the victim. You can also give validation for using the skills during bully situations at school or in the community. You can also talk with the school to ensure that there is appropriate supervision during nonstructured times such as lunch and recess.
If your child is bullying other children, make sure that he or she is being adequately supervised at all times. Parents and school personnel need to send a consistent message that bullying will not be tolerated.
The National Association of School Psychologists recommends that the child be given opportunities to feel a sense of power and importance in other, socially appropriate areas of life. This might be through achievement in sports, recognizing academic progress, having chores that are linked to allowance, and having special one-on-one time with important adults.
Parents need to ensure that their child is not witnessing bullying at home or in the community, and is not the victim of bullying by older siblings or others in the home.