How To Fend Off Different Types of Bullying Part 2 – More Tips For Parents
Unfortunately, different types of bullying are a phenomenon that has been around for a long time, and is not likely going to disappear overnight. I hope that with increased awareness, education and active work, bullying will become less prevalent. We will see. For now, how can you help your child work through it if your child is a victim of bullying, or defend against it?
Help them understand the bully.
- Help them get a sense of why people might be mean. Discuss with them what was explained initially: when people are insecure they build their confidence sometimes by rallying with others against an identified target. Say it in a way your child can understand. For example for a 7 year old you might say:
- ” Remember the day you were worried about your new shorts and wondered if other kids at school would think they were cool? Maybe Lenny also worries about what other kids at school might think of him- He also wants other kids to like him. Maybe Lenny chooses to make people like him by acting mean and tough but maybe Lenny also has worried feelings”
- This is hard to do. You are starting to teach your child about ambivalent feelings – which is very difficult and yet unbelievably important. Many adults still struggle with this concept.
- You can share with them how strange it is that you can feel like and dislike for the same person. That you can be so hurt but also maybe understand someone. You are communicating that feelings can be confusing. Some people deal with feeling confused by trying to make one feeling stronger then the other. Remind them that this doesn’t need to be the case.
- Let your child feel it’s safe to also talk to someone like a school counselor or outside therapist. You may try to normalize this especially if it seems your child does not feel comfortable talking to teachers or even to you. Sometimes children particularly when feeling so insecure as a result of bullying feel embarrassed letting their parents know and it can become a vicious cycle.
- Bring up the idea of an objective professional who will keep secrets and that it will just be someone to talk to. Young teens seem to find this comforting and will often agree to it. Younger children can sometimes be told the person is a ‘feelings play mate’ (or doctor) and can help them understand and feel better about their feelings.
- Finally, if you are uncertain what to do you can always seek outside assurance as well. Remember, your children respect and admire you and your focused attention to them, their feelings, and their problems with an understanding and sensitive approach- will in itself always help alleviate some of their distress.
Try to understand the bullying
Talk it out, with you or someone your child trusts
Discuss your feelings around bullying
What are some of our child development theories?
Speaking of speech – when to see a speech language pathologist?
Check out our baby milestones chart to see where your child is at.
Tanya works in private practice offering assessment, psychotherapy and consulting services. She also works at Boomerang Health, powered by Sick Kids where she is involved in psychotherapy for youth and families.