Dealing with Bullies

Hopefully your child’s back-to-school routine doesn’t include a bully! Occasionally, friends and classmates may tease each other in a fun, friendly and mutual manner.  But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind and constant, it crosses the line into bullying. And that needs to stop.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, or she approaches you about the subject, here’s some simple advice you can offer her for improving the situation:

• Tell an adult.  Teachers, school staff, parents, and volunteers at school can all help stop bullying.

• Use the buddy system and avoid the bully.  Stick to your friends to ensure you’re never alone with the bully.

• Hold the anger.  It’s natural to get upset, but getting a reaction out of you will only encourage the bully to continue the behavior.  Practice “cool down” strategies, such as counting to 10, taking deep breaths or walking away.

• Act brave, walk away and ignore the bully.  Firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, and then walk away.  Ignore hurtful remarks.  By ignoring the bully, you’re showing you don’t care, and hopefully the bully will get bored with bothering you.

Make sure your child continues to talk to you about the situation.  Help her understand that she is not to blame.  The bully is the one behaving badly, not her. Try to lessen the impact of bullying at home, by encouraging her to get together with friends, join clubs, or participate in sports.  Find activities that can help your child feel confident and strong.

And, lastly, let her know that together you’ll find a solution.

Related articles:

Talk Openly To Your Kids About Bullying

Bullying continues making headlines with the recent, tragic news of two Minnesota teens who committed suicide, apparently due to being bullied at school.

Cyberbullying, in particular, has become an increasingly common and serious issue largely due to the easy access, and in some cases the anonymity, of digital devices.

As a fierce advocate for children and their well-being, CHOC Children’s recommends the following guidelines to help your child fight bullying and educate them about this critical issue.

Heather Huszti, a psychology director at CHOC, says one of the best ways to protect your children from bullying is to talk openly about it. “Have a discussion about why some kids might be bullies,” she says. “You can explain that most bullies have low self-esteem and that they bully other people to try to feel better about themselves.”

Dr. Huszti suggests asking your child open-ended questions such as, “Is there anything going on?” or “Is there anything I can help you with?” This approach usually works better than firing off a list of specific questions.

If you learn your child is being bullied, here are some additional steps you can take:
* Inform your child’s school about the bullying.

* Talk with the bully’s parents about the behavior.

* Help your child build up his or her self-esteem. The better your child feels about herself, the less effect a bully will have on her overall well-being.

* Be mindful of your child’s online activity.

* Have a plan. Talk about what your child might do if he or she is bullied, including who to tell.

*Pay close attention to signs from your child that may show something is wrong, such as acting withdrawn, sad or irritable, or changes in their sleep or appetite. Keep in mind however, that sometimes kids will not display any signs at all so it’s important to keep an open dialogue with your child.

For more information about bullying, or if you have concerns about your child’s emotional well-being, please contact CHOC Children’s Pediatric Psychology at 714-532-8481.

Cyberbullying: Tips Parents Should Know

With the nation’s recent focus on bullying, there are a lot of great tools and resources out there, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Stop Bullying Now!”website, which parents can take advantage of to inform themselves and their families about this unsettling epidemic.

Cyberbullying, in particular, has been a focus with more and more kids using social networking as a way to interact and communicate. As a fierce advocate for the health and well being of children, CHOC offers some great tips on Cyberbullying for parents. Check it out here: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=397

Also, check out this article on what parents can do to protect their kids by setting rules for media moderation: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=552

Leave us a comment and let us know what your family or school is doing to tackle this important issue.