I’m so pleased to be hosting my first-ever guest post on Castle View Academy! It’s none other than Felicia Capers, Author of “Enough of Frankie Already!”. If you aren’t familiar with this book, you can read our review on it here.
Teaching Children How to Confront a Bully
In today’s world, media attention has highlighted a fact that I think we have all known for ages- kids can be brutal. Any type of aggressive behavior our children face when they are away from us causes extreme anxiety in parents. Schools focus on zero tolerance and discipline but aggressive peer relations happen everywhere, not just at school.
These incidents can cause parents to feel hurt because our children have been hurt. We feel guilt due to what we percieve as our inability to protect them. Finally we feel anger at the aggressors. As parents, we have innate nurturing and protective abilities that cause us to want to spring into action the moment our little ones relay such an event at the dinner table. Our minds race through countless stories of retaliation by bullied victims that have ended in catastrophe for entire schools and communities. Then there are the heart wrenching tragedies involving bullied victims who have ended their own lives.
I can recall when my second grader came home and disclosed that she had been bullied at her school. My first emotion was anger. I couldn’t fathom children so young being so cruel and it literally made me sick to think that my youngster was left behind each day I dropped her off to deal with this all alone.
Socialization can be a difficult process for some children but its a necessary one. At every stage in our children’s lives, integration with other children is inevitable and should be welcomed. It lays the foundation for important social skills our children will need as adults. Remember aggressive behaviors by peers don’t only appear in formal school settings. If our children are involved in extra curriculars like dance and sports teams, play dates, park and beach play, and any other setting that affords peer interaction, we should instruct them in how to respond to aggressive peers. The following is a guide for parents to age appropriately discuss with children how to confront aggressive peers.
For Children Aged 5-7
Your young child may not yet understand that in our world, sometimes people can be mean; and parents should not be guilted into feeling that they need to rob their babies of this innocent world view prematurely. It’s good parenting that we shield our children at these tender ages. Having said that, there are subtle things you should teach your youngster about bullying so they know how to respond when faced.
Define bullying or aggressive peer relations as a peer who physically harms you, who consistently teases you, who is consistently unfair while playing, and who is consistently leaving you out of play. Teach your child to always report incidents of physical harm to the adult in charge.
Teach your child to use assertive language when a peer exhibits aggressive behaviors. For this age group, tenderly uncorrupted, causing hurt feelings or any pain to other children is taught as a big no no.
Phrases like these can help your young child be more assertive when faced with aggressive situations.
“I don’t like it when you…”
“You were mean to me when you…”
“You hurt my feelings when you…”
“Friends don’t do what you did to me when you did…”
For Children Aged 8-10
By this time children are usually engaging in more independent play with peers with only adult supervision nearby.
Define bullying or aggressive peer relations as a peer who physically harms you, who consistently teases you, who is consistently unfair while playing, who consistently leaves you out while playing and who says mean things to you and about you to others. Teach your child to always report incidents of physical harm to the adult in charge.
Teach your child to use assertive language when a peer exhibits aggressive behaviors. By this age, aggressors thrive off power and emotional statements that may have been fitting 2-3 years prior will only fuel a bully.
“If you want to keep being my friend, you must stop…”
“Don’t do that to me again.”
“I can play with someone else if you keep doing…”
“If I did ___ to you, how would that make you feel?”
For Tweens and Teens
According to a UCLA psychology study, in 2014 28% of middle schoolers and 20% of high schoolers reported feeling bullied. These age groups are by far the must suffering from this epidemic.
Define bullying or aggressive peer relations as a peer who physically harms you, who harasses you, who consistently teases you, who consistently leaves you out and who spreads rumors about you online and offline. Teach your child to always report incidents of physical harm to the adult in charge.
Teach your child to use assertive language when a peer exhibits aggressive behaviors. By these age groups, bullies thrive off power, control, and social elevation that comes from tormenting others. Reversely, bullied children internally process these acts against them more deeply than they may have years prior. Some bullying in this age group may even necessitate that your child learn some effective snappy comebacks to combat bullying situations. Be creative and know your child. If you can teach them how to proactively get in front of a potential problem, do it.
“Don’t speak to me that way ever again.”
“The things you are saying about me are not true so you are wasting your time.”
Golden Rules for all Ages
1. Redefine tattling or “rats”. Make your child understand that regardless of what their peers say, your directive is the golden rule and if any aggression is committed against them, they are to report it immediately to an adult and to tell you as well. Ensure them that you will always address the issue.
2. Always make eye contact when addressing a bully and always address the bully by name. Bullies thrive off power-show them you are not afraid.
3. Stay a safe distance away when addressing a bully.
4. Don’t make idle threats. Don’t tell your bully that you will tell someone about the problem if it continues and then don’t follow through.
5. Address a bully while the problem is happening if you can do so safely. If the bully has an audience it may not be safe to be assertive at that moment and you are best served by just getting help immediately. Remember that tormentors want to make you appear weak and an audience pushing them further in their assaults against you will do just that.
6. Try not to argue or explain yourself. Simple say your piece and walk away. The bully wants to engage you and upset you. Don’t show the bully your emotions.
7. Surround yourself with friends. Your real friends know you best. They like you for who you are and will protect you and stand up for you. They will also uplift you after a bullying incident.
8. Don’t let the bully change you. You are who you were created to be. You have just the right personality, looks, and brain that you are supposed to have. If the bully causes you to be or think differently, they have won.
Teach your child that the best defense against aggressive peers is an adult. They should always let an adult know what is happening. Teach them the results of their failure to do so. There are countless examples, some tragic and horrific. Children have too much life to live to allow a bully to control it.
Felicia Capers is the publisher and author of Enough of Frankie Already! an anti -bullying book for young readers. Felicia is also the mother of two children ages 7 and 12. To learn more about Felicia and upcoming projects, visit her on the web at frankiethebully.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Contact Felicia directly for more information on this topic and other writing topics at firstname.lastname@example.org.