Is Your Child A Potential Bully Target?
All children are at risk from bullies, but some children present an easier target then others. According to one source 25% of all children will experience being a victim of bullying. And this figure is on the rise. What can you do as a parent to help your child to not be the victim of a bully?
First, teach your child what is bullying, in all its forms. Bullying is not just physical, it can be emotional or verbal. Let them know that it is not normal behaviour and that nobody has the right to treat them in that fashion. Let them know that it is alright to tell somebody about the situation.
Children often target people who are different. If your child is smaller or heavier, wear glasses or braces they may become targets. Children who have learning problems or suffer from a handicap often become victims. Children can almost always find something to tease or taunt another child about. Popular confident children may pose a threat to other children. There is no “all safe” way to avoid a bully.
Make sure that your child does not bring expensive items to school, or carry large amounts of money. Make sure that they do not brag or discuss owning expensive items, like games or ipods. Tell them to stay with friends in the playground and practice the buddy system. They should try to avoid being caught alone at school or on the playground.
Teach them to walk in a confident brisk fashion. Children who slump or try to hide often create an image of being weaker. Tell them to stand up straight and walk with a purpose. Use eye contact with other children, and speak clearly to others and do not mumble.
Children who have difficulties making friends will often become the target of bullies. Help to get your child involved in activities outside of school where they can make friends. Arrange play dates for your child to spend time with friends. This will give them more opportunities to practice social skills outside of school.
Getting your child involved in martial arts or self defence classes that deal with confidence building will go a long way.
Children who have been a bully in the past may become the targets of retaliation. If your child has victimised a child they might become the victim of friends or siblings of the victim. Often when children try to help or support a friend who has been bullied they take things too far. They then turn the abuser into the abused.
Keep an eye on your child and look for signs that they are being bullied. A reluctance to go to school or participate in activities that they normally enjoy, may be signs that your child is falling victim to a bully. Watch to see if your child becomes withdrawn, or depressed. It is important to stop bully as soon as possible, and by knowing the signs of bullying and recognising potentially dangerous behaviour will go a long way to breaking the bullying cycle.