I am an angry and upset mother.
Why, you ask?
Well, because my child is bullied in school.
In today’s day and age, bullying is very common and has many variations. Sometimes as an adult I can’t even fathom the things a child can be bullied for!
A child can be bullied for anything from his looks to the way he talks; from the kind of school bag or bottle he carries to the gadgets he has (or doesn’t have). Heck, a child can be bullied even for the way his parents look or behave. Instances of body shaming or parent shaming are quite common these days and as parents, sometimes we are at a loss as to how to deal with such issues.
So, what can we do to protect our children from an intimidating environment? How do we keep their self-esteem intact? How do we make them stand up for themselves without turning them into fighters?
When a child is bullied by his peers, the first thing that parents usually do is blame themselves.
“If I had given him more gadgets…”
“If I had monitored his diet a bit more…”
“If I had applied creams to correct her skin tones…”
Questions like these immediately pop into our heads when our children complain about being embarrassed or bullied. Bt take my advice…and Stop!
Stop blaming yourself! Bullying is NOT about you or your child. On the contrary, it’s the result of displaced aggression in another child and unfortunately, your child is the dumping ground for his/her impudence.
Conventionally, the advice for bullying usually is to tell your child to show some spine and stand up for himself. Or to go and complain to the office and have the bully’s parents called over. A parents’ ‘cat fight’ can ensue in such a case about whose child is better or whose parenting skills are better. In my opinion, this practice teaches the bully and the bullied little or nothing. In fact, it reinforces their belief that their parents will always come to the rescue.
And hence, I say, try a different approach. If your child is bullied at a junior level in school,
- Teach your children to be brave and look the bully in the eye. A bully usually chooses victims he/she perceives as vulnerable. If your children act meekly, the bully’s power (and thirst for power) will only grow by leaps and bounds.
- Use the ‘buddy system’. Invite the bully and his/her parents for a social visit. Socializing with his/her parents will automatically make the bully back off.
- Teach your children to surround themselves with friends most of the time. Bullies crave loners whom they can intimidate easily.
- Talk to the administrator in school to keep a close eye on the activity of the bully to avoid any physical tussle with your child. The bully will most likely need counseling to help him get over whatever is disturbing him/her. Suggest counseling not punishment.
- And finally talk to your own child. Yes, you want to teach your children how to stand up for themselves but you also want to instill in them values of respect and kindness.
As difficult as it is, bullying is often a part and parcel of growing up. As parents, we cannot rescue our children all the time and from all unfavourable situations. But rather than stepping in or worse, treating it as a non-issue, guide your children and be vigilant.
Bullying is real and it needs to be stopped.
Has your child ever been bullied at school? How did you handle it? Tell us at [email protected]