Safeguard Your Child Against Bullying
Preventive measures every parent can take against bullying.
As parents, we are hardwired to protect our children. From the first time we hold our babies in our arms, we dedicate ourselves to providing them with shelter, food, clothing and every possible comfort our wallets will allow.
While shielding children from danger is a primary concern for parents, the reality is that every child is likely to experience bullying in some manner; as a victim, a bystander or a bully themselves. Given that the harmful effects of bullying are well-documented and can persist into adulthood, taking preventive measures and equipping our children with coping strategies is a wise step.
While all children are susceptible to bullying, it is important to realise that bullies pick targets who are unlikely to stand up for themselves. Well-meaning parents can unwittingly add to this problem, when they discourage their children from being assertive as they mistakenly consider it as being aggressive and ‘acting out’.
In another scenario, over-protective and anxious parents who attempt to shield their children from all uncomfortable situations can end up hindering their problem-solving abilities and confidence instead. As a preventive measure, parents need to value and develop assertiveness in their children.
Encourage assertiveness in children
- Giving your child the freedom to exercise control and choice over themselves and their surroundings, such as choosing the colour and décor of their bedrooms.
- Allowing your child some room to negotiate with you on various matters that affect them. For a younger child, this might be choosing the time of day that they have their allotted screen-time, while for an older child it may be requesting a later bedtime during the school holidays.
- Being a positive role-model for assertiveness yourself, as your children watch and learn from your actions. By tackling difficult confrontational situations with confidence and calm, you teach your child to do the same.
For many parents, bullying can be an unpleasant topic to broach with their child. However, taking steps to address this issue will help to prepare your child in the event that they find themselves facing a bully.
Depending on the age and maturity of the child, parents can discuss common bullying scenarios and ask their child what they would do in those circumstances. The child can then be coached on the appropriate way to address the situation. This can be especially reassuring for children who are shy or anxious by nature, and may not instinctively know how to respond when bullied.
Bullying on social media
With the proliferation of social media, bullying has moved beyond physical intimidation to cyber-bullying (or online bullying) as well. In these instances, bullies take to social media platforms to harass their victims. Parents can help to minimise possible cyber-bullying with these steps:
- Keeping your child’s laptop or desktop in a high traffic part of the home, to monitor their online activities without hovering or micro-managing them.
- Teaching your child about cyber-safety and the consequences of sharing private information online.
- Coaching your child to observe netiquette when online. By learning to treat others in the same way that they would want to be treated, your child will learn valuable social and emotional skills to maintain positive communication with others in cyberspace. They will also be more alert to potential bullies.
While parents cannot shield their children from every danger that the world presents, they can certainly equip and encourage their young ones to stand up for themselves and be part of a positive anti-bullying culture in their community.
Copyright © 2016. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.