It’s extremely painful to watch your child suffering from bullying. Your child feels scared and helpless and so do you. It is natural to start blaming other kids. You might want to try to switch your child’s school. But sometimes, it’s difficult. Other times, after you change classes or schools your child becomes again a victim of bullying.
How can you help your child?
- As painful as it is, you have to consider what your child contributes to this dynamics. Is she needy? Is he impulsive? Is he following other children around to the point of being annoying? Is he teacher’s pet? And so forth. The more you learn about your child the better. There should be absolutely no blaming of your child, s/he is the victim! Still it’s important to identify behaviors that invite bullying.
- You need to start working on growing your child’s confidence. There are several ways to do it. First of all, you can try to create a social circle for him outside of school. Start actively working on inviting kids form the neighborhood or your friends’ kids for a play-date. He should have group play dates as well as one on one play dates. However, it is up to you to organize those kids so that they all have fun, together with your child. Remember, your child doesn’t have adequate social skills, that’s why s/he became the victim. So, please, make sure these play dates don’t fail! Be the facilitator! Prepare the board games for them to play (preferable) or a movie to watch (less perfect, but will do). Make sure your child and the guests enjoy themselves. It will be much easier for your child to cope with bullying in school, when he knows that he has his friends outside of it! His confidence will grow miraculously from this increase in his social contentedness. In fact, his behavior in school might change too, and the bullying might decrease.
- Your child needs to get into sports. Most people right away try to send their kids to martial arts. Nothing is wrong with it. But actually, team sports might be preferable, think football, basketball, baseball. Your child might be refusing due to low confidence. Try to be supportive and encouraging. If nothing else works, go with your child’s preference, even if s/he prefers swimming. It is great. There will be achievement, confidence growth and then, new friends.
- Talk to the teacher. Ask the teacher to talk to the kids without mentioning your child (to avoid exasperating the problem), but the kids to need to be reminded that there is 0 tolerance for bullying, and that the children who do it, will be punished through а detention or even suspension. Sometimes, such a talk is enough for many kids to stop supporting the bully.
- Study your kids’ class dynamics. who is the bully? who is the leader? who supports him? Who are the bystanders? Start with bystanders. Invite them one by one for play – dates. Try to turn them into your kids’ friends. Take them with your child to the movies. Your child wil gain confidence when he knows that at least some kids in the class are his friends.
- Finally, the bully. Sometimes, those kids are pretty unhappy themselves (most of the times). Sometimes, they are victims too in some other situation. It is unfair to your child and to you, but on many occasions, simply talking nicely to the bully (without mentioning your child) can change things around. When you pick up your child, say “hi” to the bully, ask about how things are at his home, how it’s going for him etc. Give him a little bit of your attention. Do it as an experiment once. The result might surprise you.
- If available, sign up your child for social skills group. Also, re-think your home dynamics. Your child needs help with his/her confidence and social skills. It is on you to help her!