Tips on How to Teach a Child to Face Bullying, Humiliation, and Intimidation
The bullying phenomenon has its hidden sides and expresses itself through numerous behaviors meant to cause suffering. Kids that a certain group considers weak or different are aggressed both physically and mentally. Here are some important tips on how to teach a child to face bullying and intimidation.
In less than ten minutes, a child may lose not only his/her trust in other individuals, but also his/her self-esteem. The deep, unseen wounds have a powerful negative impact on a child’s or teen’s emotional development and social integration.
Unfortunately, not all victims have the courage to discuss their sufferance and not all find the inner strength to fight back.
What strategies should parents adopt to prevent their kids from becoming the target of other’s cruel jokes and groundless exclusion? Which are the best ways to make a young mind understand that standing against the crowd and helping the shier ones is sheer courage?
How to Recognize a Bullied Child?
A kid may not be eager to share with the adults around him/her the humiliating situations which may occur to him/her during school brakes, on the way home or in the locker rooms. Nonetheless, there are certain signs that you should worry about:
- injuries for which your child cannot give a logical explanation
- the dirty, wet, and torn clothes and school supplies are not an exception but a common occurrence
- the kid often complains of headaches, stomachaches, dizziness or fakes sickness to avoid attending classes
- changes in eating habits like loss of appetite for an extended period
- sleeping disorders and repeated nightmares
- a decline in his/her academic results
- isolation and lack of friends
- low self-esteem
- self-destructive behavior and self-injury
New forms of bullying have emerged due to the unprecedented development of communication technology. The possibility to film and share with thousands of individuals the abasement of a less popular kid has amplified the phenomenon. Protected by the anonymity of the online environment the so-called “trolls” feel they have the right to offend whenever and how they want.
Unfortunately, some adults ignore bullying and consider it just “phase” typical for childhood and adolescence. Reality is harsher with severe consequences.
Which are the most frequent bullying behaviors?
As children grow up, bullying behaviors become more frequent and more diverse. In kindergartens, children call each other names, while in elementary school the situation is more complex. Pupils tease each other and find cruel labels for the ones who stand out due to some physical feature.
Kids are pigeonholed based on their race, religion, social, and ethnic backgrounds. This is the period when exclusion from the group begins. Even false rumors become a come practice.
High school comes with subtler forms of humiliation, intimidation, and exploitation. Academically gifted students end up doing projects, homework and all sorts of tasks for their oppressors. Looks and fashion are paramount. A teen might be the target of his/her peers’ laughter for trivial things such as an unusual haircut or an out-of-the-box outfit.
As a parent you can:
Understand bullying and the ways you can stop it
You need to get real the meaning of this phenomenon. Almost every child will go through a negative experience with a class or schoolmate. However, not every tense interaction can be considered harassment or intimidation.
Bullying is a stressing and aggressive behavior among children and teens and it implies a real or perceived disequilibrium of power. The violent behavior is not an isolated occurrence but it is a repetitive one. It can manifest itself in various ways from threats, gossiping, tasteless pranks, social exclusion, discrediting, and physical aggression.
Have long, engaging discussions with your child
The first thing to do when you notice that something is wrong with your child is to discuss it with him/her. Pay attention to your son’s or daughter’s feelings and help them to understand that you care. Even if you are not a superhero able to save all problems, your kids must know that they can count on your support.
Teach them how to mentally protect themselves and how to value their abilities. More importantly, make them aware that asking an adult for help is not a sign of weakness but strength.
In case the child is reluctant to talk to you, try not to feel hurt. Instead, encourage him/her to find another member of the family to open up.
Avoid minimizing your child’s school accounts
When your kid is sad, allow him/her to speak, leave your tasks aside and offer him/her your undivided attention. Use a friendly tone, be kind, show empathy, and let the kid know you are an indestructible team. It is not constructive to dismiss the problem and tell them their issues pale in comparison with the hardship of an adults’ life. Whether five or seventeen years old, kids must be encouraged to be strong, to be themselves, and to value their skills and abilities.
Be a positive example for your kid
Specialists in the domain pointed out that bullying is a learned behavior. Children copy antisocial behaviors, bullying included, from the adults around them and the media. If you are a positive example, you will expose your child to a beneficial influence from an early age. Also, your kid has fewer chances of getting involved in toxic relationships if you avoid negative social relations.
When you go shopping or take your kid out for a meal teach him/her how to be polite with sales assistants and waiters. If somebody is rude, teach the child how to manage the situation without being aggressive.
Never forget to express your sympathy for the victims of violent acts. You can be part of a support group for harassed kids and teens. Thus, you can show your son or daughter that aggressiveness is not cool and it might have tragic results. Plus, teach them that violence does not go away if it is ignored.
Pay attention to the shows your child’s games and TV shows
Mass-media and more recently social media have a great influence on a child or teen. A primary school attendee can adopt aggressive behavior from films, shows, songs, and video games which are not suitable for his/her age. Their mind is impressionable and parents must set some limits when it comes to online gaming and TV watching.
Parents and children should have regular discussions about tolerance, acceptance, and attitude within a group. The little ones must understand that there is a huge difference between the virtual and real worlds.
Develop your child’s emotional intelligence
Psychologists consider this aspect paramount because from a very young age children experience a range of emotions. Parents can teach children how to react when they feel joy, happiness, anger or frustration. Most of the time, both victims and aggressors have difficulties in identifying their emotional states. The later do not know how to stop, let alone understand the feelings of the other.
Methods to boost emotional intelligence
This type of intelligence is associated with an enhanced capacity to socialize and establish connections with other individuals.
To help your child you should:
- find activities which take him/her out of his/her comfort zone; do not push your child, but be calm and have patience; give a reasonable explanation to his/her feelings and work together as a team
- teach him/her how to accept constructive criticism; tell your kid that negative feedback is not something to be afraid of; most times we learn more from an honest opinion than from hundreds of false praises
- coach him/her on how to make the most out of positive feelings and events
- drill him/her on being empathic and helpful; ask him/her to imagine certain situations from other people’s perspective; allow a pet friend around the house
- teach him/her to be a good listener; thus, your daughter or your son will be quick to grasp the needs of their interlocutors and assist them
The kids who comprehend their emotions, who understand the causes and the effects of their actions, who know how to manage their feelings are less prone to becoming bullied or a bully.
Create a tolerant environment
Your child should know from an early age that the aspects which differentiate us are valuable. They must be treasured and appreciated. If we all were the same and liked the same things our society would be a monotonous one. Your son or daughter should learn that difference is the spice of life. In its absence, we would not be able to grow and evolve.
Do not confront the “aggressor” by yourself
Psychologists advise parents of bullied children not to confront on their own “the aggressor” or his/her parents. Most of the time, this is counterproductive and even dangerous. The best approach is to collaborate with the local community and the school staff.
Teachers, counselors, and the school managing staff have the information and the resource to settle down de conflict. Maybe, the bully is in his/her turn subjected to abuse at home and might need assistance. Schools and parents must work together to develop an effective strategy to combat violence among children and teenagers.
Peer bullying is a phenomenon that may leave profound marks on a child’s or teenager’s soul. Aggression victims are ashamed of their position and are convinced that they deserve their faith. For these reasons, children must learn how to value themselves and others from the first stages of their development.