The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, established that November 4th is the annual day to stand against bullying. To us mums, this is a crucial matter. We all fear that our children might be bullied at school. We share fears that they might bully their peers just as much. But how to detect any signs of bullying? Whether my child is bullying others or being bullied? And how to deal with it? We are sharing a few pointers to help you through this difficult issue.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is when one child picks on another aggressively and regularly. In most cases, bullying takes place at schools. Many parents think that children who tend to bully others are bad and only need punishment. But in fact, the act of bullying can cause serious and long lasting problems for both sides.
Unfortunately, these days bullying can take many shapes:
- – Verbal, like name calling or inappropriate comments.
- – Physical, where actual violent physical contact takes place.
- – Nonverbal or social, which is when one child is being left out on purpose for example.
- – Cyber bullying, which happens online.
As parents, we need to be aware of those types in order to know how to handle them and strongly stand against bullying in all its shapes.
Does bullying really affect our kids?
Some mums actually believe that bullying, or being bullied is just a phase. They believe their children will grow out of it and simply move on. This can be true in some cases, but sadly not all. Many studies show that kids who are bullied are likely to experience depression, anxiety, health complaints and a decrease in academic achievement. As it is commonly known, bullying takes place at schools, a place where our kids spend around 6 hours five times a week. If this place was made into an unhappy one, it will surely affect their mental health negatively.
On the other hand, children who bully others can also experience negative effects of these attitudes as they grow up. Experts say that children who bully do so for a reason. And if parents and teachers do not handle things correctly, they might rebel even more as they grow up. This attitude can turn them into really aggressive and violent adults, and no mum or parent wants that for her children.
Is my child being bullied?
Experts agreed that there are a few signs to help you tell your child is being bullied:
1| Unexplained damaged clothes or books.
2| Cuts or bruises.
4| Feeling that they have less friends or none at all.
5| Mood swings and getting jumpy when you ask them about school.
6| A decline in grades and academic achievement
7| Losing their appetite
Of course, those are not all the signs. Some children work hard to cover the fact they are getting bullied. That is why we advise you to always be involved in your child’s life to help them talk about everything they experience. Also, if you see those signs, we suggest you talk to your kid first before taking action. Understanding things from them helps you solve the issue better and quicker.
How to handle it?
When you know for sure that your child is being bullied, it is time to take action. And here is what we recommend:
1| Listen carefully and be there for them.
Some children are too scared for their parents to take action when they are bullied. That is why they hide it. So, the first and most important thing you should do is listen to your child.
2| Involve the school.
Once your child is on board with involving the school, speak to the teachers, principle, and guidance counselor. They all know how to help and stop this. This will also build up a foundation to prevent such things from happening again. Another piece of advice when involving the school is to keep a detailed record of all accounts. This will make your argument stronger and supported by proof.
3| Get the bully’s family into the discussion
Most parents do not know their children are bullies. So, when involving the family, you are helping another child through something hard and awful. Have a sit down with the family and school to work through this and create a good outcome for both children.
What if my child is the bully?
As we said before, bullying hurts both sides and affects them badly as they grow up. So, if your child is bullying others you need to understand why and help them work things out. Here is what you should do:
1| Understand why they are bullying others
2| Explain why is it bad
3| Push them to make amends
4| Have them see a counselor if need be
5| Give them alternative scenarios to understand why is it bad to bully others
If you feel your child is still retaliating, then you could use a punishment approach. Like grounding and confiscating their toys or video games.
What if my child is simply a bystander?
In schools and amongst kids, the ones who tattle are targeted and bullied. However, we should encourage our kids to act smartly in order to stop bullying without subjecting themselves to it. For example, you can advise your children to tell their teachers that someone is bullying another privately. This way the teacher can take action and be more cautious without putting your own child in the middle of it. As mums, we need to be careful because even as bystanders, our children can be influenced or affected by bullying. Some children might simply choose an isolated lifestyle just to avoid it all and that is not healthy.
That is why it is so important for us to follow up with our little ones. Asking daily about their days and what happend at school opens the door for a conversation. And this will allow you to help your own kids along with others if needed.
Things you can do on the International Day Against Bullying
1| Have a prolonged conversation with your kids on the matter. Explain why they should not bully anyone, and how they should speak up if they were being bullied.
2| Raise awareness in your own community through social media or meeting up and discussing it.
3| Make badges that have strong statements like “I stand against bullying” and arrange with the school for kids to wear them.
4| Ask the school to have a mandatory seminar that addresses bullying for all the students.
5| Watch movies about bullying with your kids, here’s a list of good movies for this:
- – Toy story 3
- – Ant Bully
- – The Karate Kids
- – Chicken little
Finally, you can prevent bullying by keeping the conversation open with your kids. This will help you understand their lives and give them good advice. Also, always set a model for children on how to be kind and nice to others.