Bullies today sometimes take extreme measures to get what they want — whether that’s your child’s lunch money or his happiness. (A disturbing thought since many of us are sending kids back to school.) Just a few decades ago, the biggest problems schools faced involved curtailing gum chewing in class, stopping hallway kissers or hand holding on the bus. I’d say that as a nation, we’ve firmly left that standard well behind us.
As long as families remain broken, bullying will continue, but you can raise a standard over your own family. Short of placing your child inside a plastic bubble before he goes to school, you can’t shield him from every negative experience. But, you can work with him, helping to bully proof his life. By helping him recognize potential bullying situations and how he should handle them, you can help him better enjoy his school experience and his life!
- Teach him self-defense. Okay, he may never be the Karate Kid but he should be able to defend himself. I firmly believe that when we can, we should ignore bullies but that’s not always possible if your physical body is threatened. Teaching kids how to handle a physical attack could be what he needs to get away safely.
- Respond reasonably. No freaking out, Mom. One sure way to get a child to clam up about bullies is by offering the wrong action at the wrong time. Be a listener and don’t feel as if you should always consult your child on the action you plan to take. Sometimes, parents have to make tough decisions, regardless of what kids think.
- Limit the carrying of expensive items. That swanky new phone or brand name backpack could make your child a big target for bullies. If your school allows phones on campus (many do not), give your child a cheap, pay for minutes as you go phone, not the latest iPhone. A low-profile is best.
- Be involved. Not just in major events like fall festivals and school plays. Come to the occasional class party, meet her friends and classmates. If you have heard your child complain before about a particular student, it may be good to put a name with a face. Politely introduce yourself, but never threaten a child.
- Help your child build a strong social network of positive friends and family.
- Encourage self-confidence. Keep him involved in extra-curricular activities. They are good for the body and the mind!
- Don’t neglect the spiritual side of bullying. Although bullying is never excusable, it may help your child to understand why some kids feel the need to bully. Involve your children’s pastor. Ask him or her to teach about what the Bible says about bullying.
Praying for our kids’ health and safety as they begin a new school year!