3 tips to help our children ‘beat the bully’
Translated and adapted by Anders Peterson from the original article ‘“Me están molestando en la escuela”: tres consejos para ayudar a nuestros hijos’ by Denhi Chaney
I remember when I was a little girl it was rare to see bullying at school with other kids. As I ponder about it, I realize this type of situation was uncommon. Not many people would talk about this topic. There were no books about it, either. Unfortunately, our children are not living in the same time period nor do they share the same experiences. Bullying has become very common in many schools and classrooms. There are books, conferences and special TV programs that address this topic and the consequences this behavior causes.
As parents, we must be informed because we can’t expect that our children will be free from bullies in their lives. We must know that the consequences of bullying are completely negative. When a child is bullied on a regular basis, this child may suffer anxiety as he or she goes to school. Children may also experience depression and low self-esteem that will affect them into adulthood. Bullying causes deep pain, and this is why it is so important that we fulfill our roles as parents. Although we may not prevent bullying and even though there are no ultimate solutions, we can take some measures to help our children avoid the severe consequences that other children have suffered. Here are some other ways to boot out bullying.
1. Establish an open and safe relationship with your children. This is one of the most important actions because we can’t help our children if we do not know what is going on. One of the major challenges is that children who are being bullied normally do not tell their parents about it. Therefore, parents have no idea what is going on at school. It is important to ask them if something has happened and also establish a good relationship. In this manner, they will know that when they talk to us, we will believe in them and will help them move forward. When we don’t have this relationship, our children remain silent because they are afraid. As parents, we must observe our children. If we feel that something is wrong, we must ask them and be interested in what is happening in their lives.
2. Take action at school and with the bully’s parents. As parents, we must be our child’s advocate. We must speak to the teachers, the principal and the bully’s parents to reach an agreement and deal with this situation. If possible, make arrangements to change classrooms or apply consequences for the bully. Remember that this child has frightened your child. This is why teachers and their supervisors must take action. It is your duty to make sure that something is done.
3. Help your child to feel safe and strong. Bullies usually pick children that are more sensitive and that appear to be weaker. It is important that we make sure our children are fearless and tell them repeatedly that they are strong. We can compare younger children to ferocious animals and tell them that when they are scared they must remember to be as strong as these animals. Research has shown that martial arts classes or self-defense classes help children to reach this goal. It is important to explain to them that they must not seek violence. However, when someone disrespects them, they must be strong and defend themselves.
Despite the fact that we would like to prevent our kids from any awful and painful situation, the reality is that this is actually an epidemic in many schools. We can’t ignore this problem, so we must prepare for it. As parents, we have resources and influence that can help our children to prevent scars that will be difficult to heal in the future.
Anders Peterson es profesor de lengua española en la Universidad de Arizona. Él reside en Tucson con su esposa e hijos y es traductor e intérprete independiente.