Bullying has been in existence for quite some time now. It used to be looked at as a right of passage and people therefore gave it little attention but it seems to have escalated to a new level. The effects on a child’s psychological health have been found to be immense and detrimental, with some even committing suicide.
Bullying was usually physical but with the advent of technology came cyber-bullying. This involves sending messages and information via the internet using social media websites and related platforms. This allows for bullying to continue even after school and it is as harmful as physical bullying. As a parent you need to be able to help your child through it before anything extreme happens to them.
- Be on the lookout for signs
It is a little difficult to talk about someone not treating you right at school and especially if you are a teenager. It somehow makes you feel inadequate or like a snitch. Teenagers may have difficulty talking about it but it will still be evident in other ways.
Your child may complain of tummy aches, headaches, a sudden inexplicable refusal to go to school, locking themselves up often or acting withdrawn and some may act out and become irritable. Look out for such signs and investigate because they may be telling a deeper story than meets the eye. They may not always be an indication of bullying but they definitely show that something is wrong somewhere in your teenager’s life.
- Talk to them about it
Kids may need simple questions to help you get through to them and find out what may be going on. If you notice a problem, make time and ask your child questions about school, their friendships, which friends they have fallen out with and such. The more the detail in the question the more likely it is for you to find out the actual situation.
Listen to your kids as they talk without passing judgment or anything. This opens up the communication channel and convinces them that they can indeed come to you when there is something wrong.
You become someone they can confide in and this is very important because life is full of many challenges that will require guidance. It is advisable to start openly communicating with your child as early as possible so that when they need someone to talk to you become their first option.
- Give their confidence a boost
Bullying will interfere with your child’s self-esteem but it will cause less damage if they feel good about themselves. You will need to build their confidence and you can do this by complimenting their abilities. Remind them what they are good at and encourage them to engage in activities that make them happy.
Give less attention to their bad traits and focus on their good habits. This will make them more responsive to you and will listen better. Building their confidence will equip them to stand up to bullies and prevent further bullying in the long run.
- Be a role model worth emulating
It may be painful and annoying if your child is being bullied at school but what if it happens at home too? They may find it normal if you handle them roughly at home. Instead, be the one that shows your child how to be assertive without being rough or forceful, how to stand up for themselves and others and model acceptable behavior to them.
If you notice any possibility of bullying try and investigate as soon as possible to prevent any irreparable damage. Talk to the teachers where necessary and keep a keen eye on your child as you help them through it.
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