My Kid is the School Bully – What do I do Now?
Bullying is a big problem in schools today. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, over 20% of students in 2016 reported being the victim of a bully’s attack. From hurtful words to physical assault, bullies have a big impact on their target’s long-term development. Academic problems, anxiety, and depression are just a few of the negative side effects of being bullied.
What happens when your child is caught tormenting a classmate? How can parents help their child find better ways to relate to their peers?
Correct the Problem
Once you’ve found the source of the problem, take corrective actions to stop unwanted behaviors.
- Create appropriate consequences for continued behaviors. For example, students who are caught tormenting classmates online should lose their internet privileges for a specified length of time.
- Teach your child other ways to cope with stress. Your most important tool in this effort is your attention. Listen with an open mind, validate their feelings, and offer reasonable solutions to their problems.
- Talk to school officials. Teachers and principals can provide vital information and act as your eyes and ears when you can’t be physically present.
Be consistent with consequences and stay involved for best results.
Find the Source
Bullying is not a random occurrence. There is always an underlying problem. The bully seeks out victims as a way to relieve their own internal pressures. Find out what’s behind your child’s behavior in order to create an appropriate solution. Some common triggers include:
- Transitions. Changing schools, moving to a new neighborhood, or entering a new social circle are all stressful events. Some students turn to bully behaviors because they think it makes them more popular.
- Problems at home. According to the University of Washington, there is a strong correlation between home environment and bullying. Are there any issues in the home that may be causing stress to your youngster?
- Undiagnosed developmental disability. High-functioning autism, ADHD, and other “invisible” conditions make it difficult for kids to understand and respond appropriately to social cues. These misunderstandings can lead to bullying and other aggressive behaviors.
Talk to your child to find the source of their frustration. Wait until you’re both calm and in an even mood before broaching the subject to avoid flaring tempers on both sides.
Empathy and Compassion: The Keys to Ending Bullying
Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s viewpoint. Compassion is a feeling of concern that motivates someone to help another person. Encourage these virtues in your child to reduce their desire to be a bully. Empathy prevents children from taking pleasure in bullying activities while compassion drives them to assist and defend others when they fall victim.
It’s vital that you don’t take your child’s bullying tendencies personally. Having a child with challenging behaviors does not make you a bad parent. Your positive attention, loving guidance, and active involvement are more than enough to help your child make better social choices.
Despite the wonders of technology, our communities are more isolated than ever. Even though we can send videos and texts across the world in seconds, many of us are living with smaller social groups and thin support systems.
A recent survey found that nearly 1/3 of Americans suffer from chronic loneliness. This statistic has a huge impact on our communities. For many of us, the network of neighbors, friends, and extended family members we used to rely on to help raise our children no longer exists naturally. How does the increase in social isolation affect your ability to parent? How can parents without a strong social safety net create a village to help them raise their children into capable and well-adjusted adults?
DIY Village for Isolated Families
The good news is that communities can be created. Use these techniques to build up your social support systems.
Building a village is all about making connections. Talk to teachers, coaches, and everyone else who plays a role in your child’s life.
- Get to know your neighbors. Make an effort to chat with them when you pass by, invite them over for snacks, and involve them in your life. Your neighbors are a vital part of keeping kids safe while they play outside and explore their physical surroundings.
- Whether you’re a breastfeeding mom, stay-at-home dad, or anything in-between, there is an online group with information, chat boards, and emotional support. In larger cities, there may be local group meetings you can attend.
- Sign up for parenting classes. This is a great place to meet other parents, find potential babysitting sources, and learn some new strategies.
Raise your children in a village mindset to reduce stress, avoid health issues, and to give your children a solid foundation on which to grow.
Parenting Fails: Life Without a Village
Even in the most ideal situations, parenting is tough. Without a support network, the hard times can seem almost impossible. These are some of the common consequences that occur when parents lack the presence of other adults to aid in the care, supervision, and education of their children.
- Increased pressure on parents to perform the duties once shared by the community. Parents lose the ability to set clear priorities and goals as they attempt to juggle multiple responsibilities. In the end, this makes them less effective in all their endeavors.
- Increased anxiety for parents and children. Humans are tribal by nature. Without clear borders to define their community, both parents and children feel less safe in their daily lives. Depression is another side effect of long-term insecurity.
- Children are physically limited. Without strong, positive relationships throughout the neighborhood, parents must restrict their children’s outside activities to protect them from potential dangers. This not only aggravates loneliness but the lack of physical play increases obesity rates.
When parents try to compensate for the village dynamic on their own, the whole community suffers.