Supporting our children
Effects of bullying on our children’s health and how to support them as parents
Bullying may seriously affect the mental health and well-being of children and youth. Children and youth who are being bullied are on the receiving end of mistreatment and are helpless to defend themselves, whilst children in conflict are having a hard time getting along and processing their emotions. They also are more likely to be lonely and want to avoid school.
There are many ways that parents and youth-serving adults can help prevent or address bullying:
Parents should reassure the children who are victims of bullying that they deserve support and that they should feel safe enough to alert an adult of what is happening. They should also teach them how to stand up for themselves without stepping on others and encourage them to speak up if another child is a victim of bullying.
Benefit from the following ways to deal with bullying:
Step one: Accept the situation. Falling into denial and getting defensive won’t achieve anything – in fact, it may only make things worse.
Step two: Look at the facts and find the source. Once you have all the facts, you’ll be able to pinpoint the reason for your child’s behavior. In some situations, your remedy may be as simple as speaking to your child (regularly) and staying in close contact with the teacher to make sure the bullying behavior doesn’t go unseen. In more severe cases, you may need to speak to a counsellor, social worker, or a psychologist.
Step 3: Make more time for your children. You can set aside 30 minutes daily to ask them about their day. Get to know their friends and what happens in class or on the playground. Regularly ask, “how did that make you feel?” to start understanding your child’s thought process. You’ll be surprised at how many clues they leave without realizing it.
Step 4: Read, read, and read some more. There is so much valuable literature available on the Internet that offers ideas on how to change your child’s behavior helpfully and positively. Always stay calm and don’t get aggressive. And, when in doubt, just show them love. Let them know that you are a safe place for them – even when they have done wrong. Once you have established a foundation of trust, your relationship will improve, along with your own state of mind.