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Top 10 things parents should know about bullying

February 24, 2015
Top 10 things parents should know about bullying

 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.

Calmly Investigate

  • 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

General 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.

Specific Strategies:

  • 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.