If you think your child is bullying others continued...
You can help your child by setting rules, supervising activities, and leading by example. Control your anger, and show sensitivity and respect for others. If a child bullies, do not punish him or her with physical force (corporal punishment), such as spanking. Physical punishment only strengthens the belief that people can get what they want through aggression.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that parents of children who bully seek help from their child's teacher, principal, school counselor, pediatrician, or family doctor. These professionals can help evaluate your child's behavior and make a referral to a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a licensed counselor who can work with your child.
If you think your child is being bullied
Many children are too embarrassed or are afraid to tell an adult about bullying. They may think that involving an adult will only make the problem worse. Help prepare children by teaching them socialization skills, modeling friendly behavior, and telling them that you will always be there for them. Mention that if something bothers them, they can also talk with a school counselor.
Be familiar with signs of bullying, such as frequent headaches, stomachaches, or not wanting to go to school. Also, ask your child questions, such as whom he or she eats with at lunch or plays with at recess. If you sense something is wrong, trust your instincts.
There are many ways you can help your child deal with bullying.
- Talk about the situation. Although often reluctant at first, many children who are bullied will open up if they are in the right environment. A good place to start these discussions is in the car or other place where you have little eye-to-eye contact. Listen calmly and thoughtfully. Don't promise that you won't tell anyone. Rather, admit that you may need to become involved but you will do your very best not to make problems worse.
- Practice role-playing at home. Encourage your child to react calmly and confidently to taunting. Help your child understand that responding with physical aggression or insults usually will make the problem worse. For example, have your child practice saying "Leave me alone" and then walking away.
- Teach your child behaviors that show confidence rather than shyness and vulnerability. Children can learn to look people in the eye and speak up when they talk. Assure your child that confident behavior can be learned. Help build your child's self-esteem by suggesting that he or she meet others through different activities. Having friends and interests can boost a child's confidence and make him or her less likely to be bullied.
- Encourage your child to think about the qualities that make a good friend.
- Suggest that your child join activities that are supervised by an adult. Bullying is less likely to occur near adults.