As your child starts school this month, remember that although every school has a zero tolerance policy for bullying, that doesn’t prevent the act from taking place and your child from being hurt physically or emotionally. You can help. Be prepared and prepare your child so that he or she starts school feeling prepared, empowered and self-confident.
- Parents, teach your kids to try to avoid the bully. Kids, remember, it is hard for someone to pick on you if you are in a group or near an adult. Bullies tend to pick on kids who are alone and who are definitely nowhere the grownups are! So, if you think you are being bullied, don’t sit in the back of the bus – sit up front near the driver. Stay toward the front of the line in the lunchroom. Use the buddy system to go to the bathroom. All of these tools will help avoid the bully who is seeking out the lone target!
- Explain to your child the best way he or she can express him/herself and stand up for him/herself. There are a few tricks you can teach your child that experts feel work the best:
- Question the response- “why would you say that”. It is hard for a bully to answer an open ended question.
- Use the words “I want”. “I want you to stop”- this shows more command than “please stop”.
- Agree with your bully. You know, you can’t have a one-sided argument. So tell your child if the bully says “You’re dumb”, he/she can answer “Yeah, but I’m good at it.” Or “hey four-eyes”, your child can respond “well, four is better than two.”
- Ignore the bully. This is one of the hardest things to do, and often the bully wants to persist. But tell your child just to walk away.
- If all else fails, it’s ok to yell for help – bullies don’t like the attention!
- Play a role play game with your child. Let him/her practice some of the provided tips so he or she is prepared to act in the event he or she is approached by a bully. Remind your child that bullies feed off fear and emotion, so the stronger your child is, the more eye contact he/she can make with the bully, and the calmer he/she can remain the better! Practice counting to ten and walking away.
- Reinforce the fact that there is no shame in being picked on. It is OK to be scared. Remind your child that if he/she is being bullied that it is OK to tell an adult! Go to the teacher after walking away from the bully. The sooner your child does that, the safer he or she will be.
- In that same vein – remind your child that you are there for him/her! They are NOT alone in this, and you will intervene on their behalf. It is up to you to help protect them, whether that means calling school or calling the parent of the bully.
We at TUNG Brush and Gel hope that each and every child out there has a wonderful, successful and bully-free school year. Just in case, though, we hope that some of these tips and pointers will provide your children with the confidence and tools to stand up to those bullies and show them they can’t win!