October 10, 2016
by Ronald Warren www.sixseeds.patheos.com
Bullying is something many children will encounter in some form. It can be name-calling, being picked upon or worse. And, nowadays it can happen in person or online. There is a temptation, especially for dads, to say, “what’s the big deal” or “isn’t this just innocent kid’s stuff?” But the fact is that all forms of bullying are abusive and can leave a painful legacy that can affect children even into adulthood. And, of particular note, dads have a unique and important role to play in helping their kids deal with bullies. Indeed, the social science data shows that children with involved dads are more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior, like proper impulse control and good conflict resolution skills and, thereby, are less likely to bully or be the target of bullies.
So if your kid is being bullied, here are some things to consider:
- Get Involved…Early—As soon as your children begin to interact with others, you need to begin to teach them not to bully and how to protect themselves from bullies. Remember, children generally do not learn to solve these kinds of problems by themselves. Parents need to teach them.
- Bullies need love too.—Despite your frustration or even anger when you learn that your child is being bullied, you must remember that the bully is a kid too. Moreover, bullies are very often children who have been bullied or abused themselves. They may be experiencing a life situation that they can’t handle and that leaves them feeling helpless and out of control. Bullying may just be a release for them. Since they can’t control their life, they want to control your child.
- Bullies don’t grow on trees.—They usually have parents and in many cases their parents don’t know that their child is the class bully. Accordingly, it’s generally a good strategy to get them involved. Remember, however, that they will probably be defensive at first, so don’t lose your cool and make the matter worse. The goal is to create a safe environment for your child.
- Just the facts, Ma’am.—It’s important that you be a “Detective Joe Friday” and get as much information as you can from your child before you take action. Avoid blaming anyone including your child or even, the bully. Also, make sure that you consider your child’s behavior, conflict management skills and temperament. The solution to this problem may entail some changes for both your child and the bully.
- Remember, life is a stage.—One of things that my son found most helpful was role playing how he could respond to the bully. He was a bit nervous at first but once he got comfortable, it gave him a renewed sense of confidence. So, I strongly recommend that you actually walk through the situations and have your child practice different responses.
- Get additional help if needed.—Like your child, you are not alone in handling this situation. Teachers, school administrators, counselor and pastors can be great resources. In addition, you can visit www.safechild.org.