Protecting Your Child from Bullying
Whether it happens on the playground, the gym, or even in a preschool setting, it’s a sad fact that bullying has become a very common problem for students of all ages. To properly define the issue, bullying involves unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power (Source: www.stopbullying.gov). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 1 in 3 students report being bullied during the school year and although most forms of bullying peak in middle school, research shows that some bullying can start as early as age 3 (Source: The Bully Free Classroom.)
While many parents and caregivers often make light of the situation — sometimes saying that bullying is just “child’s play” — the actual effects of bullying can be serious and long-lasting. For kids who are bullied, many end up suffering from serious behavioral problems that include depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts and actions. The long-lasting effects also extend to the kids who are doing the bullying, with their early aggression often leading to violent and risky behaviors in adulthood that include spousal abuse, employment issues, and alcohol and drug dependency.
It’s hard to pinpoint why young children resort to bullying, but some experts say that the behavior may be “learned” at home by observing the aggressive actions of adults. These children may be living in an abusive household, witness parent’s uncontrolled anger, and repeat those same actions to other children in a school setting. With preschool bullies, they are often just learning to master basic social skills and how to manage their emotions, so their overly aggressive actions may be a case of testing boundaries with other children.
If a parent suspects their child is being bullied, keep in mind the child may be reluctant to talk about bullying for fear of further harassment or being a “tattletale.” In that case, look for warning signs that may indicate the child is being victimized. Parents may notice a child is acting more anxious or may have trouble with their appetite or sleeping routines. Another warning sign is that a child may seem moodier than usual.
In prepping a child for the best way to respond to bullying, be sure and talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it in a safe way. Experts also recommend promoting positive body language to a child, teaching them to look a bully in the eye and to hold their head up to appear more confident. Parents can also teach a child to make sad, brave or happy faces — advising them to switch to a brave face if they are being bullied or harassed.
Also, work with your child to practice how to respond to a bully in a non-physical way. Teach the child to respond to a bully with a strong, firm voice and say something like, “Leave me alone!” The important thing to remember is that a response to a bully should never be a put-down or insult because that will typically aggravate the bully.
Some parents or guardians may advise their child to fight back against a bully. However, this may lead to increased violence or injury and experts agree that it’s always best for a child to walk away from a bullying situation and talk to a responsible caregiver and/or parent for help.
A parent or caregiver should also never hesitate to call the bully’s parent or guardian — especially if the bullying goes on for a long period of time. When talking to the other adult, approach the bully’s parent in a cooperative manner, saying your only goal is to work together to solve the issue at hand.
Most important, if you suspect bullying at your child’s preschool or kindergarten, be sure to make administrators aware of the problem right away. Most schools have a bullying response plan in place and can help resolve the situation in a professional and quick manner.
For more information on preventing and responding to bullying, visit https://www.stopbullying.gov/ or https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/bullying.aspx/How-parents-teachers-and-kids-can-take-action-to-prevent-bullying.
By ABC Quality Team at 6 Aug 2019, 11:00 AM