Learning to ride a bike, tie their shoes, and write their names are rites of passages most of our children experience. Nearly half of our children will also experience bullying at some point in their school career, but bullying is certainly NOT a rite of passage.
Bullying impedes the social and emotional development of our children. It can lead to suicide or have other long-term, harmful consequences. It should be a priority for parents and schools to safeguard children from bullying and being bullied.
Children (and adults) who bully often do so because they feel powerless, and bullying others makes them feel powerful. A bully might be someone who experiences fighting and yelling at home - he may feel badly about himself and bullying others is the only way to feel better - or, she may not have the social skills needed for interacting with other children. No matter the reason, bullying is a problem that should not be shrugged away.
Your child may be embarrassed to tell you that he or she is being bullied. A child who is being bullied may experience dropping grades. They may come home from school with missing personal belongings. Physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or nausea may arise. They may have trouble sleeping or have a loss of appetite. They may tell you directly that they do not want to go to school.
Awareness and communication are the most important tools in mom’s toolbox when it comes to combatting bullying. Make it a priority to speak with your children about bullying before it even happens. Let them know what they should do if anything like that ever does happen to them. Encourage your children to participate in activities they are passionate about. Building their confidence and sense of self will help equip them properly for bullying situations. Be involved – at your child’s school, with his or her friends, and with the parents of those friends.
If your child is being bullied, the most important thing you can do is show your support. Be active in helping your child – and his or her school - find a solution. Keep notes on the bullying situations your child describes to you. Help build resiliency skills in your child and seek professional guidance when necessary.
Bullying is a difficult experience to navigate. Many moms hold their breaths as they bid their children farewell into the school day. We struggle with painful thoughts of our children being picked on, left out, or hurt by other children. By taking a proactive approach and opening the lines of communication, building our children’s resiliency skills, and providing them with the proper tools to manage difficult situations – we can raise the odds that our children will not be victims to bullying.