Parents can prevent their children from becoming bullies, according to a report in Science Daily. Parents should also be able to recognize the signs that tell them whether their child has become the victim of a bully. Bullying is a serious problem, and parents should not brush it off as simply a childhood experience.
Who the Bullies Are
A 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health showed that African-American and Latino children are more likely to be bullies than Caucasian children are. Other likely candidates are children who have behavioral, emotional or developmental problems. Children who have mothers with mental health issues are also more likely to be bullies. Parents who frequently become angry and bothered by their children increase the chances that their children will be bullies.
Factors That Decrease Bullying
The National Survey of Children’s Health showed that older children, children whose primary language is not English and children who did their homework consistently were less likely to be bullies. Parents who talk to, share ideas with and meet their children’s friends are likely to have children who are not bullies.
Spot the Bully and Victim
The first step to take if you want involvement in a bully situation is to determine if your child is a bully or a victim. The Great Schools website gives some signs to look for. If your child is a bully, she has a strong need to dominate others and uses threats to get her way. She intimidates her siblings or neighborhood kids. She brags about her superiority over the other kids. She angers easily and is impulsive. She cheats. She may act aggressively toward parents and teachers. She may engage in stealing or vandalism.
If your child is a child is a victim, she may come home from school with torn clothing or damaged items. She may have bruises or cuts that she can’t explain. She may be reluctant to go to school and complain of stomachaches or headaches. She may have nightmares. Her grades may go down from lost interest in school. Your child may appear sad or have sudden outbursts of anger. She may be socially isolated, having few or no real friends.
If Your Child is a Bully
If you suspect that your child is a bully, you need to take action. Discover the reasons why your child behaves negatively. He may need professional help. Be firm with your child. Tell him that he must stop bullying and that you do not tolerate this behavior. You should contact the school regularly to make sure your child has stopped.
If he doesn’t stop, discipline him in non-aggressive ways, such as taking away possessions or privileges. Spend more time with your child. Get to know his friends, and find out what they like to do for fun. If you determine his friends are unacceptable, limit his exposure to them. Enroll your child in an activity where he can meet new friends.
If Your Child is a Victim
Your goal as a parent is to get the bullying to stop. Contact the school and rationally explain what is going on by presenting facts. Do not be emotional, even though you may have strong feelings. Be sympathetic to your child, without over- or under-reacting. You may need to get professional help.
Spend more time with your child. Provide comfort, love and support. Talk with your child about reporting any future bullying behavior. Brainstorm ideas that may prevent future bullying. For example, she may be lacking certain social skills and needs to learn how to make and keep a friend. Enroll your child in extracurricular activities, even if she is reluctant.
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