Empower your child to stand up to a bully. Encourage him or her not to retaliate with violence and aggression but to firmly stand their ground. Clinical psychologist Seema Hingorani tells you how to prepare your child to deal with a bully.
Identify signs of bullying to help your child stand up to a bully
It’s easy to spot the signs of bullying when a kid is expressive and articulate. However, there are some obvious indicators that your child is being targeted by a bully at school. When bullies pick on a child, the kid is likely to go through depression. He or she may have physical injuries, which he or she may not be able to explain. His or her appetite may be affected. They may start developing fears, and will be afraid to go to school. Some may even make up excuses to avoid going to school. If the child shows any of these signs or confides in you about being bullied at school, you should not dismiss it but ask a lot of questions.
Tips that can help
Make sure your child is not amplifying problems. Go into details. Sit down with your child and probe further.
- Ask your child if they are being called names?
- Is any child physically assaulting them?
- Are comments being passed on their weight, clothes or skin colour?
- Is the bully saying something about the parents or putting the child down academically or saying they are not good enough?
If the child confides in you sharing that all of this is happening, parents need to get in touch with the educational coordinator at school, and ask them to intervene. Bullying should not be taken lightly or dismissed as it can be traumatic for the child. If nothing is done to address it, the child grows up feeling traumatised, and then has to live with that trauma for the rest of their lives.
Teach your child to stand up to a bully
It’s important for parents to comfort and support the child who is a target of bullies. However, it’s also vital to teach the child to stand up and retort. Emphasise that you will intervene if need be. Explain the concept of bullying to the child. Make them understand if they are being subjected to bullying, and also underline that it’s okay to back answer a bully but avoid physically assaulting him or her. Your child needs to make it clear to the bully that if he or she continues to target them, they will complain to the teacher, and make sure to do that. If the child is being targeted post school hours, and there is written proof of bullying, make sure to collect that as evidence. Texts, emails, etc, can be used to make a case in front of the school authorities.
If the bullying does not stop, and becomes severe, you may have to involve the child’s parents and make them aware of what their child is doing, and insist that their child back off.
Make sure that your child understands that bullies generally experience pleasure in putting someone down. However, when you stand up to them they get intimidated easily, and most likely will back off. They will only bully you if you allow them to.