Bully-Proof Your Child: Ten Tips
In honor of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, we want to provide you with these very helpful tips that were recently compiled and shared with Mommybites by Jean McPhee, Ph.D., a Child and Adolescent Psychologist for UrbanSitter.
Here are some proactive steps you can take to reduce the chances that your child will be bullied:
1. Make a concerted effort to stay involved in your child’s life.
2. Take time to really listen to what is on your child’s mind.
3. Do not minimize or joke about your child’s worries or concerns. Take them seriously.
4. Put yourself in your child’s place and take their perspective.
5. Enhance your child’s self-esteem with appropriate praise when justified.
6. Observe your child with peers. Promote friendships and strengthen social skills if needed.
7. Encourage your child to participate in activities which promote personal responsibility and competence.
8. Role play with your child how to avoid or ignore bullies, choosing to be with good friends instead.
9. Share any concerns you have about bullying behavior with teachers, coaches and other youth leaders.
10. Work with your child’s school to implement a bullying prevention program if needed.
11. Seek out professional assistance for problems which are not easily resolved.
Here are some facts every parent should know:
- Bullying is common. A recent survey found that 1/3 of middle and high school students reported being bullied at school last year.
- Bullying happens to students of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
- 3 million students reported being pushed, shoved, tripped and even spit on.
- Results of bullying include: school absences, lower academic performance, diminished self-esteem, increased anxiety and even suicidal ideation.
- Victims of bullying are often embarrassed or anxious and tell no one.
- There is no single cause of or predictor for bullying.
- Bullying at school may be significantly reduced through comprehensive, school-wide programs, designed to change student perception of acceptable behaviors.
- Outside of school, when coaches, youth leaders and parents respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send a message that bullying is not okay.
While many children get angry or argue with friends, bullying is different. It is an aggressive behavior that is intended to cause distress or harm. Bullying also involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim. Kids who are being bullied often do not ask for help. Stay involved in your child’s life and watch for these warning signs of bullying:
- Avoidance of school or social situations
- Sudden loss of friends
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Frequent headaches, stomach aches or faking illness
- Declining grades, loss of interest in school
- Lost or damaged belongings
- Changes in eating habits
- Self-destructive behaviors or talking of suicide
Some children are at greater risk than others for being bullied. Risk factors increase for children who:
- Are perceived as different from their peers (overweight, new to a school, etc.)
- Are less popular than others and have few friends
- Do not get along well with others
- Are depressed, anxious or have low-self esteem
- Are seen as weak or unable to defend themselves
For many of us, teasing and being teased was seen as an inevitable part of growing up. Because it happened a lot, we tended to turn a blind eye to the problem. Today, however, most parents, teachers and others who work with children recognize that bullying is an aggressive behavior that can cause great distress and harm. For this reason, bullying among children and youth has become a national focus of attention and concern.
For more information on bullying, visit this website: www.stopbullying.gov
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Jean McPhee is an experienced family psychologist and educational consultant in La Jolla, CA. In preparation for her PhD in clinical psychology, Dr. McPhee’s professional background included education and training at Stanford University and years of elementary school teaching and preschool administration. Her personal experiences as a parent and grandparent connect Dr. McPhee with clients and her community. Working collaboratively with physicians, teachers and parents, Dr. McPhee provides research-based interventions to enhance the lives of children and families.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.