Parenting bullying

When one child or several repeatedly tease, taunt, threaten or physically abuse another child - happens to children of all ages.But bullying is more than just children fighting. It is continued abuse that can leave lifelong scars.

Bullying cuts across all socio-economic classes and occurs in cities and suburbs. Children in grades 2-6 are twice as likely to be bullied as those in grades 7-9 because the children in earlier grades are younger and weaker, according to a study of approximately 150,000 children, bullying is more violent in the older grades.

Victims of bullying are likely to be anxious, passive, sensitive, physically weak children who feel they deserve the abuse. He followed victims from grades 6-9 through age 23 and found that, as adults, they were susceptible to depression and poor self-esteem.

Parents should be alert to signs of possible bullying, since children may hide problems and be unwilling to talk about being bullied because they're afraid the bully will punish them. Children may be victims when they:

  • are reluctant to go to school,
  • suddenly do poorly in class,
  • don't invite classmates home to play,
  • are moody and have sudden displays of temper, or
  • ask for extra school supplies or lunch money (which is often extorted by a bully).

A parent who steps in to help a child may be accused of being overprotective, so many parents wonder to what degree they should let children work these problems out themselves. But experts say that bullied children have difficulty dealing with the abuse themselves and need adult guidance. When a child complains about a bully, parents should:

  • take the complaints seriously,
  • role-play with the child on solutions to volatile situations,
  • keep a journal of the abuse,
  • discuss incidents with teachers or school staff,
  • work out a plan of action with the school, and
  • monitor the plan's effectiveness.

To prevent children from being chronic victims of bullies, parents should foster their kids' self-esteem and find ways to help the child avoid the victimizing situations.

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