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Health & Balance

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How to Avoid the 'Demons' of Summer

Tips for keeping your cool when obnoxious behavior tries to ruin your summer fun.

The Bully continued...

A bully's personality blossoms when his parents tolerate his bad behavior with a lack of punishment, as well as frequent admiration and encouragement, explains Figley.

Here's how a parent can help protect a child from a bully so the whole family can enjoy its summer:

  • "Ask what is going on," says Figley. "Their initial response may be 'nothing,' because they've learned if they tell it may make matters worse. But don't stop there.
  • "Have the child look at you, and then go through step by step what happened during the day," says Figley. "Unless the child is an extraordinarily good liar, you'll hit pay dirt.
  • "If the child finally admits that a bully held him under water, rather than focusing on your own child, ask if it happened to anyone else," Figley tells WebMD. "You're getting insight into the world of your child through his eyes, but you're focused on another child. It's less risky, and indeed it may help you both find a solution.
  • "Respect the child enough to ask what he or she has tried to do about it in the past," says Figley. "The child will then talk about strategies he or she has used to avoid the situation or to get along."

"What you're doing is engaging the child gently in a research project to gather all the facts to develop strategies to solve the problem," says Figley. "Even if it doesn't help in that particular situation, it's a great opportunity for the child to learn that he's not in it by himself. That the parent has a responsibility to be an ally or an advocate."

And if a parent actually witnesses the bullying taking place at the public pool?

"In the pool scenario, if a parent sees bullying happening, they need to act on it and not allow the child to be abused," says Figley. "While it may embarrass the child, their job is protection. Letting the drama unfold in the hope that it will teach the child a lesson in courage, that's swell, but it's completely unethical and inappropriate when the parent sees it for himself."

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