Unfortunately, many children will become the target of bullying during their adolescence. Everyone is quick to denounce bullies and give advice, but few people actually know how to handle the situation, or have the determination to do what is required to end it. Many fellow parents, teachers, or friends will advise that you enter your child into programs to facilitate self-confidence, or to get your child involved in activities with groups of children in a public area. The fact is that while this advice is sometimes sound, oftentimes it isn’t the right advice for your child, or it doesn’t stop the bullying. Bullying can take place anywhere: in school, after school, and even during the activity that a child was signed up for specifically to avoid bullying. The problem isn’t solved by trying to get the bullying to stop; there are always going to be other children who have that disposition and/or lack of proper parenting. The problem is solved by teaching your child why other children resort to bullying, and arming them with the self-confidence they need to stand up for themselves the right way.
Granted, this doesn’t work with all children. Every child is different, and you already know your child well enough to know how to get through to them. So, of course, you are the best qualified to tailor this lesson for your own kids. Open up a line of communication to your child about their fears, and let them know that with the right tools, anyone can be reasoned with. It is absolutely important that your child knows that you are taking this situation as seriously as possible, and that you are there to support them throughout, until the bullying is stopped. Kids usually only incur psychological issues from bullying if they feel they are alone or helpless to stop it; your support and understanding is imperative here. Give as much of it as you are capable of.
To stop bullying, it must first be understood. Psychologically, children who bully often do it because they feel that the only way they can earn respect is through displays of power. These aren’t passing whims, though, they are personally internalized by the bully. They are almost always hurt by someone else in their own lives, so they feel they have little choice but to take it out on others. However, like all faults we find in our fellow man, these problems can be related to, and reasoned with.
Begin by getting your child to identify the bully to you. Yes, this is a joint effort, and one that must be taken seriously, and often handled repeatedly if it is to be stopped. Once the bully is identified, two different steps must be taken. First, you, as the parent, have to discuss this issue with the parent of the bully personally. While the parent might shrug this off as unimportant, or deny it entirely, it is up to you to defend your child, and make sure that the issue is taken as seriously as possible. If you must, suggest that you will take action if this problem is not dealt with. You must make it as clear as possible that this harassment will not be tolerated.
If this were all that were done, it would likely exacerbate the issue at school. It’s possible that the parent of the bully will take this out on their child, which would cause the bully to be more resentful towards your child. That’s why you also have to have your child stand up for themselves. Let your child know that he or she is supported, that you’re with them, and are going to back them up against this bullying together. Your child has to know that he or she is not alone in this, that much is vitally important. Inform your school of the issue, because it’s their job to protect your kids. You have to be careful about this, though, because schools often turn a blind eye to this behavior, since kids, boys especially, are usually rough with each other. Make it clear that this issue must be taken seriously, to ensure that if your child is threatened in any way, disciplinary action will be taking place.
Unfortunately, to quash bullying, it must be reinforced in the bullying child’s mind that there are repeated and enforced consequences for their actions. No matter how many times a person is told something by another, they never actually learn unless they come to this realization themselves. The goal here is to form a scenario where every time this bully interacts with your child negatively, there are negative consequences incurred, and your child personally stand up against the bully. These consequences cannot only happen once, then be forgotten, or the bullying will resume. You must be vigilant, and you must support your child to be vigilant. You must ensure that every altercation is responded to, until your child is no longer viewed as a reasonable target for bullying. Between the two of you, you have the tools to stop your child from being bullied, no matter where it takes place. As long as you take it seriously, and work closely together, you and your child can get through anything.