Who's Seen the Big Bad Wolf?
If you consider the Big Bad Wolf a bully, then we've all seen it. It seems we can't go a day without hearing about some kind of bullying, from extreme situations that lead to tragedy, to more minor, but still hurtful, incidents that happen right in front of us. As adults, we must educate ourselves on all aspects of this issue. We need to know the various types of bullying that our kids face, how to recognize bully behavior, and how to help both victims and bullies. And in today's world none of this is easy.
So here are a few helpful tips:
Spend time with your child. The more time we spend with our kids, the more likely they are to talk to us about their lives and the challenges they face. We know from research that kids who have a warm, supportive relationship with at least one adult are less likely to be victims of various types of abuse. Be that person for your child.
Don't ignore or minimize your child's feelings. Kids don't think adults understand them so try to listen and empathize without jumping in to rescue your child or fix things for them. This is a great opportunity to teach our kids helpful strategies for coping with difficult or negative feelings.
Don't feed into the drama. We want to take the situation seriously without adding to the hurt or embarrassment. Be on your child's side but try not to get overly emotional in front of him/her (there is time for you to deal with your own feelings later). Your child will take their cues from you. If you are confident that your child will get through this, they will feel more confident.
Try to help your child problem solve. Don't lecture because we know kids will tune out. Work with your child to see the situation from all sides and to come up with a helpful response. Our kids will encounter bullies and other difficult situations throughout their lives so they need us to help them learn to think through things and develop tools to handle life's ups ad downs.
Set limits on screen time and social media use. Kids need to be involved in face to face interaction and physical activities. Try to make sure your kids get up and out every day. Social media is a growing source of stress and trauma for tweens and teens so very carefully limit and monitor your kids use of all forms of social media. This takes work but it is crucial for our kids' wellbeing.
What else can you do? You can educate and equip yourself by attending Beyond Bullying, a half day conference for parents, educators and mental health professionals presented by I AM HERE Coalition for teen mental health. For more information visit iamherecoalition.org/beyondbullying.html
If your child has been the victim of bullying or has bullied others and you feel he/she needs more help than you can provide, call me for a consultation. I can provide you and your child the support and encouragement you need to overcome bullying related issues.
Click on the following links to view articles I have written for other websites:
Choosing a Therapist
Help for Depression