Studies have shown that bullies target others to gain a feeling of power. Studies also show that more girls than boys are bullies. More often than not, when a child is the victim of bullying, he doesn’t want one of his parents to step in and handle the situation.
Of course, whether or not you do will depend on the age of the child and the severity of the bullying. But since there will always be bullies in the world, even into adulthood, equipping your child with the right tools to handle bullies is one of the best actions you can take.
You want your child to have the emotional ability to be able to stand up for himself and learn good conflict resolution skills. Bullying does work to tear down the self-esteem of the victim, so as a parent, you want to make sure that your child understands that at the heart of it, bullying has nothing to do with him.
Reassure him that he’s well loved and that you’re proud of him. Offer a non-judgmental ear so that he doesn’t keep emotions bottled up. Talk to your child about his feelings about the situation and let your support for him be clearly seen.
Often, bullies will pick on other kids because they want to see a reaction. They want to see anger or reduce the victim to tears. Teach your child to maintain self-control and not to fall for it when the bully is pushing his buttons.
Depending on the level of bullying, avoiding the confrontation is one way to handle the situation. If there are ways to avoid the bully such as taking another route to class, have him do that.
You can teach your child to try talking to the bully, but talking to a bully rarely ends the bullying. Teach your child that if he’s confronted by a bully who just won’t stop, that it’s okay to stand up for himself.
Bullies want to make their victims feel small. They want them to cower. Show your child that while walking away from a bully is often the best defense, sometimes the bully refuses to give up and if that’s the case, that it’s okay not to back down.
If your child has tried avoiding the confrontation and has tried other forms of conflict resolution, make sure he knows to seek out an adult for help. He should first tell his teacher and if that doesn’t help, go to the guidance counselor or the principal. If none of those adults will step in and stop the bullying, go to the school superintendent.