As 11-year-old Keaton Jones tearfully recounts the bullying he endured in the now-viral video, parents wonder what they can do when their child is faced with bullies. Sadly, his story represents what many children suffer, oftentimes, in our community. Many schools have strong anti-bullying policies and parents should advocate when they have concerns. Here’s what parents can do:
Don’t take it personally: When our kids are hurting, we feel their pain. To be helpful, you must listen calmly and objectively to your child.
Don’t minimize the situation: Your child needs someone with more power than the bullies to advocate for him and help him solve the problem. Inform the adults in charge where the bullying happened and request they help and enforce anti-bullying policies.
Don’t blame your child: There is no justification for bullying. Let your child know that it’s not their fault—anyone can be a target of bullying. It’s often just a case of wrong place, wrong time, and any kind of difference or vulnerability can do it.
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Have conversations: Teach your child to identify what’s happening as “BULLYING”. Encourage them to talk to trusted adults in their lives. Choose activities your child is good at and reinforce it. Remember, when a child succeeds at something, it helps him develop better self-esteem.
Strategize together: Bullies feed from victim’s negative reactions. You can help your child by having problem-solving conversations and strategizing together. Some effective strategies may include: ignore the bully, use the buddy system, or inform the school and advocate for intervention.
It’s important for your child to know you are on their team. Listen to what he has to say around this subject, take him seriously, and empathize calmly. Your advocacy can stop the bullying.
Katrina Bellemare is the Executive Director at Parenting Matters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org