Bullying can be a very difficult area with which to find support and help. Even understanding what bullying is and various ways children are bullied, such as cyberbullying, can be a struggle. Bullying is the unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. It can imply verbal (teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, etc.), social (leaving someone out on purpose, spreading rumors), and or physical bullying (hitting, kicking, tripping), in-person or over the internet.
Discuss with your child what bullying is and how they should respond. Preparing your child on how to respond and how to seek help when being bullied is the first step to prevent a situation from escalating. Consider talking through how they would handle different situations—if someone they don’t know is bullying them, if it is a classmate, if a friend is the one being bullied, or if a friend is bullying someone. You may wish to check with your child’s school or other community organizations on what ways they address bullying, who your child would speak to if an issue arises, etc. and then discuss this with your child.
It’s also important to help your child understand how their words and actions impact others. In many cases, children will say or do something they think is funny or a joke, but the recipient of the words or actions feels they’ve been hurt or insulted.
Bullying is a serious topic and can be very overwhelming as the parent. We are thankful you found this resource and that it may help you address this issue effecting your family. You may be feeling a range of emotions from angry, hurt, sad, or embarrassed. It is important that you recognize these feelings, pray with them, and not let them be the driving force when you address this issue with your child.
If your child is being bullied:
It is best to work with the school and trained counselors to meet your child’s emotional needs. That does not mean you cannot do anything at home. Start by listening to what they want to share with you, reaffirming that your child is a beloved child of God, and share how much you love them. Children can sometimes dismiss positive feedback from parents as they deem “you have to say that” so consider asking family friends or relatives to do the same by sharing positive attributes they see in your child. Pray with and for your child through this situation.
If your child is the bully:
Talk to them about why they are behaving this way. You know your child best so consider if their actions are matching up with their words to you. You will want to work with them to understand why they pick on other children. It could be a variety of reasons (jealousy, boredom, emulating seen behavior, etc.) so it is important to also bring in professional therapists and school leadership to help your child process all of this. Consider talking to them as well to help equip you with ways to help your child not bully anymore. Hopefully, this will help your child to make true amends and embrace that they, and those who they have bullied, are beloved children of God. Throughout the entire process, pray with and for your child.
Want to learn more?
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