How to Talk About Bullying With Your Children
Think bullying isn’t an issue in your child’s life? Unfortunately, the chances your child is either the victim of bullying or a bully is high. According to stopbullying.gov, almost half of children in grades 4 through 12 reported being bullied by other students at school within the last month, while 30 percent reported being a bully to others during that time. With back-to-school season underway, it’s important to talk with your child about bullying so they understand what to do in different situations. Use this guide to help:
If your son or daughter is being bullied…
Only about 20 to 30 percent of students who are bullied let their parents know, so it’s important to be aware of warning signs. Pay attention if your kids start acting differently, seem anxious, aren’t eating or sleeping well, or are refraining from doing things they enjoy. If you’re worried about bullying, find ways to bring it up in a not-so-obvious way. Maybe the next time you’re watching TV together and see someone be mean, ask if they ever have people talk to them that way. Let them know that if they ever do have classmates say mean things, they should talk to someone – whether it’s you, another adult or a sibling. If they do open up to you about bullying, listen calmly and reassure them that you’ll figure it out together. The next step is to tell someone at school about the situation – like a principal, nurse, or counselor – as they are the ones who can take proper steps to prevent further issues.
If another parent informs you that your child is a bully…
This can be difficult to hear, but it’s important you figure out what’s really going on. First sit down and have a discussion with your child. Let them know that you’ve been told about what happened and that you love them no matter what, but their behavior needs to change. You should also make a point that bullying in any form causes pain to others, which is why it’s absolutely unacceptable. At this point, it might be helpful to find out what’s really going on—maybe they don’t feel like they’re getting enough attention or were bullied themselves. If you’re not getting through to your child, ask your primary care physician to recommend a mental health professional who can help you. Lastly, talk to your child’s teacher about how you’re willing to work with the school to help stop your child’s bullying.
If your kid sees someone at school being bullied…
This is a great moment to talk to your kid about how to handle complicated situations. For example, you can encourage them to avoid joining in or laughing (which encourages the bully) and also to take the high road by walking away or getting an adult.
If you think your child is experiencing behavioral issues or symptoms of depression, Blue Care Network members can reach out to the behavior health line at 1-800-482-5982 to get referred to a specialist.
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