Bullyproof Your Child: 3 Steps to Teach Your Child To Stand Up For Themselves
Bullying remains as one of the biggest concerns of schoolchildren today. Recent statistics have shown that more than one out of every five students report being bullied. While school-based bullying prevention programs have decreased bullying by up to 25%, there’s the fact that the Internet has also made bullying easier and crueler as a majority of teens have experienced online threats and humiliation. As parents, we want to be able to protect our children from bullies as much as we can. We can’t be with them 24/7, but we can help them deal with bullies in positive and effective ways.
Why bullied children don’t stand up for themselves:
According to another study, 64% of children who were bullied did not report the incident, and one reason why bullied children don’t report the bullying or stand up for themselves is their characterization of bullying. Most associate bullying with injury, physical threats, and actual physical contact and these usually get reported to school authorities or parents. However, the subtle and more hurtful types of bullying such as making fun of the victim, excluding the victim, calling the victim names, spreading rumors about the victim, or forcing the victim to do things that he or she does not want to do are often not reported as some think that these aren’t as serious as actual physical contact, such as hitting or shoving.
How fear affects a bullied child:
There’s also the fact that bullying often renders children and teens fearful and incapable of defending themselves. It’s even more traumatizing when a group of children gangs up against one child, and the victim can feel too overwhelmed to stand up for himself. She will feel too frightened and powerless to fight back, and she’ll feel that there’s nothing that anyone can do to stop it. This is why it’s important to teach your child positive ways to cope with bullying and to encourage him to stand up for himself when faced by a bully. Here are some effective strategies to teach your child to bullyproof himself.
1) Maintain eye contact
Maintaining eye contact is a sign of direct and open communication. Encourage your child not to look away when faced with a bully and to stay calm when speaking to him. Raising her voice, shouting, or crying will let the bully know that he has gotten to her. However, she should maintain an appropriate distance and not stand so close to the bully, but neither should she shrink back.
2) Encourage the child to stay connected with friends
Bullies have the power to make their victims feel isolated. Encourage your child to maintain strong ties with family and friends and to continue making friends during this difficult time. When a bully learns that he can’t keep a victim isolated, he loses his power over the victim and backs off.
3) Use unemotional and non-confrontational language
Teach your child to respond without anger or fear when the bully tries to humiliate him or her in public or social media. It would also be a good idea to say the bully’s name to remind him that he is an equal. A simple “Stop it,” or “Knock it off,” followed by the bully’s name, is an assertive yet unemotional response that shows that your child is not pleading or asking for forgiveness, nor is he posing a challenge to the bully.
It can be tough for children to stand up against a bully, but it can be done by staying calm, holding one’s ground, and learning to be assertive yet unemotional when confronted. By teaching your child these steps, they can stand up for themselves in positive and effective ways. We are here to support you child and your family if impacted by bullying. We understand the emotional impact this can have on self esteem, identity, and overall safety.