Bullying is intentional upsetting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It varies between hitting, name-calling, threats, mocking, obtain money and treasured possessions by threat, spreading rumors or even using email, chat rooms, instant messages, social networking websites, and text messages to insult others or hurt their feelings.
Kids are often hesitant to tell adults about bullying. They feel embarrassed and ashamed that it's happening. If your child tells you about a bully, provide strategies that deal with bullying on an everyday basis and also help restore his self-esteem:
- Praise your child for being brave enough to talk about it.
- Remind your child that he or she isn't alone
- Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together.
- An older sibling or friend may also be able to help you figure out the best solution.
- Tell your child to try as much as he can to avoid the bully. He can also buddy up with a friend wherever the bully is and offer to do the same for a friend.
- Teach him to hold the anger; because anger makes bullies feel more powerful. Practice not reacting by crying or looking upset. Sometimes the best thing to do is to teach kids to wear a "poker face" until they are clear of any danger (smiling or laughing may provoke the bully).
- By ignoring the bully after firmly telling him to stop, your child is showing that he doesn't care. Eventually, the bully will probably get bored.
- Let your kid tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, can all help stop bullying. They may offer some helpful suggestions or at least help him feel a little less alone.
- Remove the reason. If the bully is trying to get your kid's cell phone for instance, don't let him take it to school.
- Encourage your kids to get together with friends that help build their confidence. Help them meet other kids by joining clubs or sports programs. And find activities that can help a child feel confident and strong.
It may be tempting to tell a kid to fight back. But it's important to advise kids not to respond to bullying by bullying back. It can quickly rise into violence, trouble, and someone getting injured.
For years, researchers theorized that boy bullies have low self-esteem, poor social skills, and few friends, and that they often are victims of bullying themselves. But experts now believe the opposite can also be true. In many cases, their social skills are normal.
The problem for bullies is that social skills don’t always translate into good relationship skills. It translates into a "need for control". This need for control comes from sources such as anger, lack of parental attention, and domestic violence. If the parents at home don’t know how to regulate their emotions, the children don’t learn how to either.
If your own son is a bully, experts recommend that you:
- Offer him time to do things with you or another caring adult
- Teach your child to express anger in a socially acceptable way
- Create opportunities for him to be a positive leader, such as in scouting, sports, and clubs.
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