6 Ways to Help Your Child Deal with Bullies
Learn to spot warning signs that your child is being bullied and know the recommended actions that you can do to help your child deal with bullying.
When we think about childhood, fun and excitement are probably the top words that come to mind. However, a study found that at least 6 in 10 Filipino students are being bullied regularly, an experience that could bring a lifetime of trauma to every young soul.
According to Steven Pastyrnak, Ph.D., the Division Chief of Psychology at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, “typical bullying symptoms include physical complaints such as tummy aches, as well as worries and fears.”
Bullied children can also have decreased academic achievement as they are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school. A study also found that being bullied makes young people incredibly insecure because it makes them feel unaccepted, isolated, angry, and withdrawn.
Parents should not ignore warning signs that tell them that their kids are being picked on, which include the following:
- Random fits of anger and crying spells for no apparent reason
- Complaints about feelings of hopelessness or emptiness
- Disproportionate reactions of anger and frustration when compared to the situation
- A loss of interest in activities that used to bring joy and pleasure
- Feelings of low self-esteem, guilt, and worthlessness
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Sudden/abrupt avoidance of school and/or an activity they used to attend
While parents might feel helpless in situations when they feel that their children get bullied, there’s actually a couple of actions that can be undertaken by adults to help children deal with bullying. Check them out below:
1. Openly communicate with your child
Never disregard the power of open communication. You should regularly check in with your kids about how their day went while making them feel that they can always talk to you or seek help from other adults about any problems, or people for that matter, that are bothering them.
Bonnie Leadbeater, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria, stresses that “normalizing help-seeking behavior is the best thing we can do for kids.” Remember to always keep a calm and friendly tone when talking to kids!
2. Promote positive body language
Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, suggests: “Tell your child to practice looking at the color of their friends' eyes and to do the same thing when they are talking to a child who's bothering them.” Apparently, doing so will help them feel more empowered in difficult situations, including facing bullies.
3. Prepare a list of proper responses
As a preventive measure or upon confirming that your child is being bullied, you should be able to practice with him or her direct yet not antagonistic phrases that can be used to deal with bullies. “The key is that a comeback shouldn't be a put-down because that aggravates a bully," says Borba.
Among these words are “Leave me alone,” “Back off” and “That wasn't nice.”
4. Foster friendship
“Friends protect against bullying,” says Leadbeter.
Parents are advised to teach their children social skills because some kids are apparently being bullied because they don’t know how to make friends. Some activities that parents can initiate include, among others, hosting playdates or enrolling kids in activities that will allow them to meet peers in other environments.
5. Participate in the formulation of anti-bullying programs
A research led by Margaret Sanapo of Far Eastern University recommended that parents should actively participate in the formulation of preventative programs for school bullying to help stop the abusive behavior in schools.
Active participation would allow parents to not only know the kind of environment they enrolled their child in but would also allow them to share their recommendations and personal inputs to address bullying.
6. Remind kids of their self-worth
Experts say that “children who are bullied may see themselves as being less worthy than others. They may feel like other people are better than they are. They may believe they do not deserve to enjoy the same happiness and success as other children.”
That’s why it is important to tell bullied kids that it is not their fault if somebody harassed or tried to harass them, while also reminding them of their positive attributes.
Bullying exists in many forms – from physical such as punching or hitting, to verbal such as name-calling, or psychological such as spreading rumors, and virtual such as sending insulting messages online. Children who are on the receiving end of bullying are prone to experiencing serious short-term and long-term issues, including developing depression and anxiety.
Parenting practices, according to experts, can make a difference whether or not children become aggressive, bullied, and victimized—or not. And recognizing when your child is being bullied is the most significant step to dealing with bullies.
4 consequences of bullying behavior - NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK390414/
• ABS-CBN News. (2019, December 14). 6 in 10 pinoy teens bullied in school: Study. ABS. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/12/14/19/6-in-10-pinoy-teens-bullied-in-s…
• Effects of bullying. StopBullying.gov. (2021, May 21). Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/effects
• How to stop bullying: 9 ways to prevent your kid from being a victim. Today's Parent. Retrieved from https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/school-age/stop-bullying/
• Laroche, F. (2021, October 4). These are the best things about being a child. digitalhub. Retrieved from https://swnsdigital.com/uk/2020/01/these-are-the-best-things-about-bein…
• Schuman, C., Colino, S., & Broadwell, L. (2022, July 6). A parent's guide for how to deal with bullies. Parents. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/kids/problems/bullying/bully-proof-your-child-h…
• The mental health impact of bullying on kids and teens. (2022, January 5). Retrieved from https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/mental-health-impact-bullying-…
• When kids hurt other kids: Bullying in Philippine Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321907760_When_Kids_Hurt_Other…
ABOUT THE WRITER
Marjorie Duran is a writer, content creator, fitness coach, dragon boat athlete, and a proud mom of her 2-year-old boy.
After getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at the University of Santo Tomas, she started her writing career as an entertainment journalist for the Manila Bulletin. Marjorie then worked briefly as a Literature Instructor at the FEU Institute of Technology before becoming a writer for one of the Senators at the Senate of the Philippines, where she is currently employed. She has also contributed articles that have been published in several websites, such as Spin, Men’s Health and FHM.
During her free time, Marjorie also side hustles as an online fitness instructor, specializing in coaching High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). On top of this, she also manages the Facebook Page, “Fit Mom Journal,” where she shares fitness tips and various parenting content.
Marjorie may be wearing different hats all the time, but for her, being a mom is the best of them all!
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.