A parent’s guide for how to deal with bullies
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to have their kids tell them they’re being bullied – but count yourself lucky if your child opens up to you. Many cases of bullying go unnoticed either because the victim is intimidated by the bully, doesn’t have the guts to speak up, or is worried about how the adults in question will respond.
In this Pacific Prime Latin America article, we’ll give parents all the tools they need to deal with bullies, including understanding the types of bullying, the signs of bullying, and how to respond.
Bullying exists in many shapes and forms
Let’s start with definitions. Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships, through repeated verbal, physical, and/or social behavior that aims to cause physical, social, and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group, and can take place both in-person and online in the following ways:
Whether it involves hitting, punching, kicking, shoving, or damaging property, physical bullying involves using force and/or one’s body to harm others. It’s often the most obvious and easily recognizable type of bullying.
Where words, statements, and name-calling is used to gain power and control over a target, verbal bullying is said to occur. It’s a lot harder to identify because it tends to occur when adults aren’t around and is often one person’s word against another’s.
Often referred to as relational aggression, social bullying involves hurting the social standing of others through gossipping, spreading rumors, and manipulating situations. It’s even harder to recognize than verbal bullying because the original perpetrator may not be known.
The internet has also provided many opportunities for cyber bullying such as posting embarrassing images, making online threats, and sending hurtful emails or texts. It allows bullies to remain anonymous, and get to the victim anytime and anywhere.
Recognizing and dealing with bullying
Has your child come home with a broken limb, visible scars, or made physical complaints like tummy aches? Or maybe they seemed worried and anxious about going to school or meeting their peers? Do you notice any behavior changes like loss of appetite, increased aggression, or even poor self-esteem?
While these situations don’t necessarily mean your child is a victim of bullying, they’re situations that require you to probe deeper and find out what’s going on. Depending on your child’s age and the situation at hand, ask questions about their social situation. Find out who they’re getting along with and who they’re hesitant to talk about.
If you suspect a case of bullying or if your child has opened up to you, make sure to ask for more details. Try not to get angry, frustrated, overreact, or do things in a haste that makes your child less inclined to talk to you in the future. Your child needs you to listen, reassure, and support them, as well as to be strong and stable.
Of course, different types and scales of bullying will warrant different responses from you. Some situations will require more urgency and intervention from you, while others may require you to mentally prepare your child for dealing with the bullies and learning to stand up for themselves – a vital skill that they’ll take with them into adulthood. Here’s how you can do it:
Build your child’s confidence
If your child feels better about themselves, bullying is less likely to affect their self-esteem. Encourage hobbies, extra curricular activities, and social situations that bring out the best in them, and make sure you point out their strengths, unique qualities, and positive behaviors.
Maintain a two-way line of communication
Do check in with your child everyday about their time at school in a calm and friendly manner. This creates a safe environment and an opportunity for your child to open up to you about their struggles (if any). Emphasize that no problem is too small to bring up.
Empower them with tactics to ward off bullies
It’s important to let your child know that they’re not alone in their problems and that you’re there for them every step of the way. However, it can also be a good idea to tell them how to address bullying and potentially stop it from escalating. Some tactics to share with them include:
- Projecting confidence: By employing certain body language, like looking into the bully’s eye or putting on a brave face, your child can learn how to project confidence and feel strong in challenging situations. More often than not, how a victim looks when they encounter a bully is more important than what they say.
- Responding to bullies firmly: You can even role play scenarios that could come up in a bullying context and help your child think of and practice different responses. These should be simple and direct, but not antagonistic, and said in a calm and determined voice.
- Knowing when to walk away and when to inform an adult: In addition, your child should be encouraged to remember their self-worth, walk away from the situation, and even use humor to disarm the bully. However, they should know that they can and must go to an adult if they ever feel genuinely unsafe or threatened.
Get in touch with Pacific Prime Latin America today!
Your efforts are crucial in helping your child handle bullies, but it may also be helpful for them to speak to a trained counselor – especially if they’re traumatized by any past instances of bullying. While many schools have counselors on hand, they can often be oversubscribed so it’s a good idea to have access to one privately.
If you find mental health support to be quite heavy on the pocket, then you should consider getting a health insurance plan with mental health benefits. As a global health insurance brokerage, Pacific Prime Latin America can help you find appropriate plans – tailored to your unique needs and budget.
Contact us to kick start your and your family’s insurance journey today!
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