According to a recent news article “the majority of parents are worried their children will be bullied at school” I don’t agree! I reckon that if a parent was specifically asked the question “are you worried about …” then the majority might well answer yes – but I think that’s different to them actively worrying.
Having said that, I do agree with the Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett that we have a world wide challenge (well at least the western world). Too “many of our kids have their education disrupted and their confidence damaged through bullying and harassment. Technology is making it easier to bully and is creating many more victims.
My concern is that a meeting of experts will talk and generate great ideas BUT (knowing the nature of politics) will take some considerable time to make recommendations (prove me wrong, Peter – I would be thrilled by that!)
So – in the meantime – here are 4 simple ways to make your child more bully proof:
Encourage them to be themselves – Bullies look for children who are easy prey. They may be of a different race, culture, religion or even shy and introverted. Bullies look for what is different about another child and try to exploit it by making fun of it. Let your child know not to be ashamed of who they are. Accept them and they will more readily accept themselves.
Walk away – It takes a lot more courage to turn your back and not answer the taunts. Your child’s first instinct might be to refute the rumors and gossip, but that will only encourage the bully. They thrive on gaining control of your emotions. Instead, take a deep breath, turn and walk away leaving them standing there. The wind is taken out of their sails and they will eventually leave your child alone because they are not getting the response they wanted.
Change the rules – Your child doesn’t have to skip lunch to avoid the bully. Instead of bringing lunch money, they can pack their lunch. And, they can stick with a friend or two that they trust. If the bully wants their hat, they can stop wearing one temporarily to keep the bully from bothering them.
Encourage communications with a family member – If your child is not ready to talk to you, ask a sibling to help. They may see them as more on their level. They can confuse in them and also get advice on how to deal with a bully.
Bullying is scary for parents and children. Arm your child with love, a strong sense of self and good communication to help them fight back.