Author: Alan Brady
Published: Nov 5 2012
There are many different types of bullying, and many types of bullies, and your child could be victim of any of them, or even the perpetrator. As a parent what can you do about it when your child is being physically or verbally abused by other children? Do we sue the teacher, school and district? Do we talk to the teacher and the principal? Suing people is probably a bit premature, and talking to teachers can help, but it won’t permanently solve the problem. To solve the problem we need to examine the root causes. There are two major categories of bullying victims that require different types of help.
Bullies tend to pick the easiest targets. If your child doesn’t have any friends then the teacher’s protection will not do much at lunch, before and after school, or during breaks. Unlike in the movies a bully will almost never pick on someone under the protection of a group of friends. The longer bullying goes on the more ostracized a child can become among their peers until it becomes nearly impossible for them to be accepted within a group at all. As a result they withdraw emotionally and become depressed. If your child is being routinely bullied at school for an extended period of time you should place your child in a different school where they can try to make friends among children who aren’t afraid to be seen with them, it’s very unlikely that they’ll recover without help.
If your child has the support of friends they might still be bullied. In this case bullying is likely to take a more indirect form like the spreading of rumors, verbal baiting, or quick underhanded attacks when the teacher is looking the other way. The scariest thing about this kind of bullying is that it’s the kind of behavior we’re most likely to encounter in real life as adults. Similarly the way to resolve it is less about escaping and more about management. In a situation like this you can teach your child valuable skills that they will almost certainly need later in life. Here are a few tactics you can teach them to employ to throw off bullies and “win” bullying confrontations.
Poise - The easiest way to disperse rumors is to bore the people who heard them. They heard something dramatic and they expect a dramatic response out of you when they confront you with it. Keeping composure, lightly chuckling and commenting on how adorably ludicrous their story is will make them uncomfortable and is much more convincing than either red-faced embarrassment or loudly denying their accusations.
Quick Wit - This is of course much more difficult to learn, but you can practice such conversations with your child. This is a double edged sword because you’re literally teaching your child how to argue and verbally fence in order to puncture a bully’s overinflated ego. That can backfire next time you try to talk him into cleaning his room. Be sure to teach your child that maintaining a calm temper and polite demeanor will maximize their effectiveness.
Situational Awareness - Your child needs to know when someone hostile is near them and to see it coming from a distance. Learning to simply avoid a bully is the most important out of all of these skills. This also applies to adult life since most bullies are predators of convenience. Additionally the loss of face resulting from both of the other above methods can goad the bully into acting out in front of an authority figure which is much more likely to result in punishment.
No. They don’t sound ideal on paper because they’re offensive as well as defensive in nature but they’re highly effective tactics that your child can use to protect themselves and gain the upper hand in social confrontations for a lifetime. If their own, their teachers’, and your efforts all fail, then it is time to move on to legal methods. It’s important to show your child how to escalate a conflict like this naturally because it teaches children how to address similar issues as an adult.
Alan Brady is an enthusiastic blogger who writes about his experience as a single parent, his kids, child abuse, money management, and family law. He currently blogs for the lawyer locator www.attorneys.com.
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