Many kids will be headed back to school in a few weeks. Most will be happy to see their friends but some are dreading the end of summer because it means they will have to face bullying. Bullying can start very early and can even be seen among kids who are still in pre-k.
According to Dr. Craig Bach, VP of Education for The Goddard School, bullying can have long-term consequences but the earlier children learn to respond to it the less likely it is to have long-term consequences.
Here are some tips from Dr. Bach about what children and parents can do to addressing bullying:
• Encourage children to take bullying seriously and work to make it stop when they see it occurring. Tell children not to ignore it because it usually won't just go away. With your child, use creative intellect to find ways to make it stop. Think of it as a problem-solving opportunity.
• Don't wait until a bullying incident happens to talk to about bullying with your child. Get used to discussing it so it is not so strange when it does occur. Let your child know it's okay to talk to friends and parents, teachers, and other adults about anything that concerns them.
• Let children know they can talk to the bully if they feel comfortable. The can look the bully in the eye and tell them to stop.
• If talking to a bully doesn't work, walk away from the bully. Don't run, act scared or angry -- things that often encourage a bully -- just walk away calm and steady.
• It is helpful to hang out with other people and avoid kids who bully others. Children should make sure to have friends or a trusted adult around if they think they might get bullied.
• Children should talk to an adult they trust and not let bullying happen without other people knowing about it. This can be parent, relative, teacher, school counselor, or friend.
• Learn to recognize the different kinds of bullying and call it for what it is. Whether it is physical (getting beat up) or emotional (regularly being left out of a group or teased in a mean way), it is bullying.
• Don't remain silent when other children are being bullied.
• There is no magic formula that will work in every situation. There are times when you will need to defend yourself. When those times happen, be calm and thoughtful.
• The effects of bullying will stay with children for a long time. Showing confidence and courage in the face of bullying discourages bullying, minimizes its impact. Encourage your child to respond to bullying in ways that will help him walk away feeling as courageous, smart and as good about himself as he can.
• Tell children that bullying happens to almost everyone so they don't feel so alone.
There are several steps parents can take to help their children be prepared if they are bullied or cope with being bullied.
• Role-play with children.
• Don't wait until a bullying incident happens to talk to children about it. Start early and talk regularly.
• Talk to school officials and make sure the school has an effective plan to prevent and respond to bullying behavior.
• Talk to children about bullying and ways to respond. Also, talk to them about avoiding becoming bullies or how they would respond if they saw another child being bullied.
• Recognize your child's emotional responses to bullying. It is normal to be scared and upset after being bullied. Talk to them about it.
• Learn to recognize the signs of bullying and keep an open line of communication with your child. However, no matter the relationship you have with your children, there may be times when they are too embarrassed, upset or scared to tell you about it. Demystify bullying by talking about it openly and often.
• Talk about your own experiences with bullying, how it made you feel, and how you responded. If you wish you had responded in different ways or had discussed it with friends, teachers, or family members let them know.