We’ve all had moments of feeling upset because of a hurtful insult said to us by a bully. And we’ve all caught ourselves on the flip side saying or thinking negative things about people we don’t know very well. October is National Anti-Bullying Month and it’s a great opportunity to take a stand against the problem of bulling.
When it comes to the young people in your life—sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or even young friends—it might be hard to know if bullying is happening. Even if you know it’s going on you might not know how to handle it. Here are some tips for detecting and dealing with bullying:
1. Look for signs: Bullying often happens when no one is looking. Pay attention to their behavior and watch for signs of fear or sadness, anxiety, lack of sleep or a change in their regular habits. Also look out for aggressive behavior as they may be the bully themselves.
2. Ask lots of questions: Ask what they think of the other kids at school, their friends, what they do during lunch, after school etc. If they are angry, defensive or afraid to talk, bullying might be the culprit. You can also bring up the situation in a more roundabout way like referencing a situation on a TV show or one that you’ve dealt with and asking if they’ve had to deal with it before.
3. Listen well: It can be hard to get kids, especially teen,s to open up about their problems. Listen to what they say and just as importantly what they don’t say to your questions.
4. Boost confidence: If they are being bullied they can feel like it’s their own fault. Focus on supporting them and offering comfort. Tell them that they’re brave for telling you and that the bully is the problem not them.
5. Practice effective responses: Ignoring repeated bullying isn’t the answer—it only gives the bully more power over the situation. However the bully thrives on getting a reaction so encourage the child to not cry, get angry, or look upset. Teach them calm responses that will throw the bully off like “Why would you say that?” or “Seriously?” or even a bored response like “whatever” or “what?”
6. Don’t encourage retaliation: Even though the child is hurt do not tell them to fight or bully back. That can lead to violence and possibly someone getting hurt or suspended from school.
7. Get Involved: If the bullying gets worse or continues to happen sometimes it’s necessary to talk to the bully’s parents. You can also approach teachers or counselors at the school to intervene.
Finally in the words of Dr. Seuss “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
How can we all take a stand against bullying?
Offer your ideas in the comments below.