Top 10 things parents should know about bullying
February 24, 2015
1. The definition of bullying:
- When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they keep doing it - even when you tell them to stop or show them that you’re upset - that’s BULLYING.
2. The warning signs of bullying:
- Your child shows an abrupt lack of interest in school or refuses to go to school.
- Takes an unusual route to school.
- Suffers drop in grades
- Is sad, sullen, angry or scared after receiving an email, text, or phone call.
- Has torn or missing clothing
- Plays alone, or prefers to hang with adults
3. There are different kinds of bullying:
- Cyber-bullying – bullying through online, social media, text messaging, etc.
- Face to face – in person name calling, teasing, verbal and/or physical abuse.
- Consistent exclusion from social activities.
- Rumors (relational bullying)
- Sneaky bullying (covert bullying)
4. As a parent, watch your response:
Manage your feelings
- Take a deep breath and get grounded
- Do not overreact – this can increase anxiety in children
- Decide how to respond (use your plan)
- Parents need to talk with another adult (spouse, family members, friends) and avoid sharing ‘adult’ feelings with children
- It’s OK to acknowledge what your child said and follow up with them when you are ready.
- Let your child do the talking
- Focus on their feelings – Validate!
- Listen and don’t judge your child.
- Encourage them to describe the incident in as much detail as they can.
- Use open- ended questions, not leading questions
5. Make sure it really is bullying?
- Determine if bullying is problem based on author and parenting guru Barbara Coloroso (2002) four markers of bullying:
- Is there an imbalance of power?
- Look at vulnerabilities
- Is there intent to harm?
- Is there a threat of further aggression?
- Is your child afraid of continued bullying
6. Create a plan based on severity
- Isolated incident? Listen to your child and validate his or her feelings.
- Ongoing difficulty with social relationships? Help your child build on their strengths and increase opportunity for social relationships
- Your child is definitely being bullied: intervene at the level of the child, school, or community.
7. Bullying: self-protection strategies
- Look confident (assertive body language) by standing tall and holding your head up.
- Don’t cry and run off. Instead turn sideways, and have non-threatening eye contact.
- Keep your facial expressions neutral. Don’t look sad and don’t look angry.
- Hold your arms beside your body. Don’t hold your arms up like you want to fight.
- Make your assertive comment and then walk off confidently.
- Make an assertive statement: With a serious face and a strong but calm voice say, "Stop it" or say, “This is a waste of my time. I’m leaving.”
- Admit the Obvious—point out that the bully sees the obvious— “Wow! He noticed I have big ears.”
- Broken record — repeat “What did you say?” or “That’s your opinion.” or “So.” (Then, walk off confidently)
- Confront bully concerning his/her spreading lies/rumours.
- Expose the ignorance of the youth who bullies you. For example, if he is bullying you because of your medical problem or disability, tell him the facts about it.
- Give permission to tease– “Well, it’s okay to say what you want. It doesn’t bother me.”
- Change the subject to shift attention- “I wonder what we’re having for snack today?” or “it’s cold in here” or “did you know that this staff is on shift today?”
- Use sense of humour (do not make the bully feel like he/she is being laughed at). For example, if the bully says, “You sure do have big ears.” Say, “I know, sometimes I feel like I am an elephant.”
8. Be Proactive: Open the lines of communication Children come to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure your child that they can talk to you when they have a problem. Think of bullying as an ongoing conversation as your child develops.
- Read class newsletters and school flyers. Talk about them at home.
- Check the school website
- Go to school events
- Greet the bus driver
- Meet teachers and counselors at “Back to School” night or reach out by email
- Share phone numbers with other children’s parents
9. Facts about bullying:
- Every day, 60,000 students skip school because they are afraid they will be bullied
- Over 3.2 million are victims of bullying each year
- An estimated 40-70% of bullying in schools takes place during breaks, such as recess. At lunchtime, hallways, and the restrooms
- The average bullying episode lasts only 37 seconds
- Teachers notice or intervene in 1 in 25 incidents.