Moms seem to know when something is not “right” with their kids. Even if the kids say everything is fine, moms can frequently tell when this is not true. And it’s often that “mom intuition” that uncovers the real reasons for behavioral changes in kids, especially in regards to bullying and intimidation.
Step 1: Listen — Once your suspicions are confirmed, there are steps you can take to help your child deal with a bully. First of all, listen to your child and affirm his or her feelings. (Though you are going to be feeling highly emotional yourself, listening is crucial.)
It might even be beneficial for you to share a story or two of your own. This support helps remove the shame and embarrassment your child might be feeling about the situation. And, if there are older siblings in the family, a few of their own stories could help, too.
Step 2: Learn the details — Next, find out where the bullying occurs. Obviously bullies do not want to be overheard by someone in authority, so these incidents usually happen at times when there is little supervision: in the bathroom, in the hallway, at recess, to and from school, etc.
If possible, help your child find a way to avoid the situation. Think about it logistically. Is there another route to take or another facility to use? If not, encourage your child to use a buddy system to avoid being in those targeted areas alone.
Step 3: Role play — Most kids don’t know how to respond to bullying, which is one reason it is so frustrating—and effective. In order to build your child’s confidence when placed in a situation where bullying occurs, try role playing. Offer suggestions on ways to respond. Of course, the idea is to neutralize the situation, not escalate it.
A simple “that’s not cool” might be enough. Or, depending on the situation and other factors involved, you might need to instruct your child to just ignore the taunts and walk away.
Step 4: Ask for help — Let’s say you have walked your child through all the reasonable steps, and the bullying has not stopped (or has increased). Unfortunately, this can happen; however, you still have resources available to help you help your child.
The state of Arizona requires schools to have anti-bullying procedures in place so that any student, parent, or school official can report an incident of bullying, harassment or intimidation confidentially (see ARS 15-341).
Additionally, each school must define appropriate disciplinary actions. Though you might want to just talk to the parents of the child who is bullying to find a resolution, in most cases, working through the process that the school already has in place is a better—and wiser—option.
Sylvan Learning Centers provided resources for this report.