The topic of bullying continues. Parents have questions, and this parenting expert has the answers! How can I prevent my child from being a bully? What is the new breed of bullies? What are some tips and advice to help children who are being bullied? What are parenting tips to help their children if parents discover their child is being bullied? What are signs that your child may be being bullied? These are just but a few of the top questions that parents ask about with regards to bullying. Provided below are the top 7 questions asked and answered from this Family Therapist/Psychotherapist’s lens.
#1 HOW DO YOU STOP YOUR CHILD FROM BECOMING A BULLY?
- Be a good listener to your child’s feelings, set a good example, respect their voice, be empathetic to them and apply this in how you interact with others as well so they learn by experience and observation.
- Take bullying and any kind of mean interactions seriously. Address it, discuss how it makes the receiver and your child feel. Strategize other options which are kind and compassionate and empathetic discussing true good character is doing the right thing. Be proud of your child when having good character and care for others.
- Know what is going on in their social life from a young age and rather than have the “boys will be boys” or “girls will be girls” attitude. Educate your children how to communicate and behave with kindness and compassion.
- Start communicating with them at a young age about their feelings and their analysis of other’s feelings and how we affect other’s feelings.
- Help them to develop a healthy sense of self by encouraging them to do activities that make them feel good about themselves.
#2 ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES PARENTS CAN GO TO?
- Stopbullying.gov – helpful resource to learn about bullying policies and laws.
- AAMFT.org as well as psychologytoday.com- find a therapist.
- “No Kidding about bullying” (book with cd-rom) activities to help kids manage anger, resolve conflicts, build empathy and get along geared for grades 3-6. Cd-rom features games and exercises.
- “The bully, the bullied, and the bystander”- great book from pre-school to high school how parents and teachers can help break the cycle of violence.
- “Stop bullying : standing up for yourself and others” -dvd shows steps students can take to respond to bullying and talks about the importance of respect and tolerance.
- Dr. Karen Ruskin’s blog articles on bullying and Pediatrics For Parents Column called: ‘Dr. Karen Explains’ provides for an article entitled: How to develop a child of character.
#3 THERE IS A NEW BREED OF BULLIES? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Bullying used to be:
- The Vindictive Bully - Vindictive and vicious toward his target hunts for opportunities to bully.
- The Bullied Bully - This bully is bullied typically at home and bullies those who are weaker.
- The Bully Bunch – (a) Mob mentality: a group of friends, typically nice children but when team together exclude another child, OR (b) Gang concept: rather not such nice kids, who form an alliance in pursuit of control lacking in empathy and remorse.
These types of bullies still exist.
The new breed of bully although includes those above now also includes:
- The Social Bully.
- The Confident Entitled Bully.
Skilled at manipulation and can act as if he is caring, presenting with confidence as a way to hide his feelings of insecurities and poor sense of self. Uses this “face” of charm as a disguise to get what he wants and covers up for his lack of real empathy. The social bully is insecure and jealous of another’s positive qualities but hides it by presenting in charm and confidence. The social bully uses gossip, verbal taunts, rumor and/or excluding that results in the isolation of his selected target from social activities.
Tough to combat the social bully because teachers and kids who are not being bullied see him as caring, fun, and social.
- The Confident Entitled Bully:
An inflated sense of self and a sense of entitlement. Peers and teachers often admire him because he has a powerful personality. This child feels a sense of superiority over others, and inflated sense of self lacking in empathy for his targets.
Also hard to combat due to the positive view others see who are not being bullied.
Explanation of this new breed:
Often neither the social bully nor the confident entitled bully use physical violence. It is the verbal, emotional, and social bullying with this new breed that is much harder to combat as it is easier for others to turn a blind eye to and can easily be waved away suggesting the bullied is just being overly sensitive. This of course results in the bullied feeling like something is wrong with him because “no one else sees who the bully really is”. Although it is hard to combat, this new breed of bullying must not be ignored. If your child is experiencing this form of bullying, utilizing the tips/advice for your children and for parents that is documented on this blog is advisable. The emotional anguish of any child should always be addressed and taken seriously.
#4 IS THERE ANY NEW INFORMATION THAT WE NOW KNOW ABOUT BULLIES THAT’S INTERESTING INFORMATION?
- Typically when bullying is discussed we envision someone is smaller, weaker, or something is different about that child in that they don’t fit in (e.g., lisp, special needs, overweight). Although this form of bullying still occurs, children who are not the stereotype to be bullied is far too often being bullied as well and this should not get ignored. It can be a visually beautiful girl, a smart attractive looking boy. This is now more recently being recognized. It is the new breed of bullies that has taken over and hurts the inner emotional soul of the child experiencing this emotional and often relational social isolation.
- Everyone at one time or another in their life will either be a bullied, bully, or a bystander. Choose not to be either of them and be an up-stander. Bullies rely on the fact that others around them will either gang in or ignore/be a bystander and not speak up which enables their behavior.
- Recent school bullying and cyber bullying statistics show, depending on where you look the following: 1 out of 4 kids are bullied. 1 in 5 students admit to being a bully or do some sort of bullying. 1 in 7 students is either a bully or a victim.
#5 BULLIES ARE NOW USING DIFFERENT SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS TO CARRY OUT BULLYING. EXPLAIN THIS PLEASE.
The use of social media networks (e.g., facebook, twitter) is a vessel for implementing one’s bullying style. A concrete reason why teaching your child to fight physically to show their strength to combat bullying doesn’t work, as social media taps into the emotional, verbal, and relational bullying of which you cannot utilize physical means to fight. This vessel of which to implement bullying is hard for youth of today to escape since social media is such a common vessel of which to communicate and connect with others.
#6 WHAT ARE SOME TIPS YOU CAN GIVE TO KIDS WHO ARE BEING BULLIED?
Think of the acronym C.H.A.T. : * Character * Help * Activities * Temporary*
- Tell yourself what another person says or does says everything about their character not about yours. Then, develop a strategy. E.g., assert yourself and look at the bully straight in the eye, appear confident, hold your head high and in a strong firm voice say what you feel. e.g., “stop making fun of me, it’s mean”. “I want you to stop _______. ” state what the stop is, “I want you to stop teasing me”.
- Seek out help, and if your voice is not heard, if nothing is done, ask someone else in authority and do not give up until something is done.
- Sign up for extracurricular activities in school and/or out of school that peaks your interest to develop a social network of those with similar interests, and increase your feelings of self value.
- Remind yourself that this is a temporary problem, do not give up.
# 7 WHAT ARE TIPS YOU CAN GIVE TO PARENTS TO RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS OF BULLYING AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?
- Don’t want to go to school.
- Not sitting with anyone at lunch.
- Symptoms of depression (e.g., isolating, lack of interest in activities they used to find interesting) and/or appears anxious.
- If the child reports someone is teasing, spreading rumors, giving them the hairy eye ball, not feeling included/feels like they don’t fit in/belong.
4 Tips For How to Deal:
- Hear your child’s voice. Be a good listener. Don’t blame. Be nurturing. Let them know you are there for them. Let them know it is not their fault (big mistake parents often make is to blame the bullied).
- Listen and gather facts.
- From the facts gathered develop a strategy together and practice it. Don’t tell them to just ignore it and it will go away if they are telling you there is a problem and whatever they do it will not go away. Address what the problem is and brain storm with your child not at your child for different potential options for addressing the problem. Then, come up with a game plan for taking action not inaction. What works for one child may not work for another – determine a self defend strategy: e.g., (a) Assert yourself: stand tall and use a strong voice, name the bullying behavior and tell the aggressor to stop: “stop making fun of me, it’s mean”. (b )Use I want statements: “I want you to leave me alone, I want you to stop teasing me”. (c) Ignore it. Bullies love when their teasing upsets their victims so help your child to find a way to not let his tormentor get to him, pretend they are invisible walk away without looking at them. If that does not work, and the teasing continues then you may need to implement the aforementioned as ignoring for some bullying does not work at all. (d)You may need to determine to seek out help within the context of where the bullying is taking place. Often in school, thus contact the school, not the parent of the bullying child because the child who bullies, the parents more often then not do not respond in a kind helpful way and rather do not view their child as a bully. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your child.
- Sign up your children for activities that are of interest to them, or a new activity they may wish to try to develop friendships and feel like they belong, a part of something. When bullied, it is a very lonely feeling they need to connect with others. Also having an interest helps them to develop a sense of self.
Written by Dr. Karen Ruskin
Follow Dr. Karen on Twitter or Facebook. Media Psychotherapist Guest Expert; Relationships, Parenting, Hot Topics In The News. Appears on: The O'Reilly Factor, FOX & Friends, FOX & Friends FIRST, America Live, Hannity, regular go-to for FOX Boston, and more. Can be heard on Radio: FOX News, 96.9 Boston Talks, and more. Columnist, quoted in various print media: FOX Business, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Care.com, USA Today, Parents, TIME, Woman's Day, and more. Owner/Director of Dr. Karen Ruskin & Associates, Inc. Based in Massachusetts. Author of: 9 Key Techniques For Raising Respectful Children and Dr. Karen's Marriage Manual. Copyright 2012.