WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
When a parent finds out that their child is being bullied at school or if your child is the bully, the first reactions are often anger and fear. But...
Remain calm at all times. Finding out your child is in a bullying situation causes immediate emotional stress. Children learn how to react to issues by how parents react. Document what your child tells you.
Educate yourself and evaluate your options. Check your state laws to see what schools are required to do in response to bullying. In some states parents of bullies can be cited and fined.
Contact your child’s teacher. Teachers recognize that bullying is a problem, but many have not been trained in how to handle bullying situations, so try not to be confrontational. Tell them the situation and enlist their help in stopping the behavior.
Follow up. If you are not satisfied with how things are being handled, continue talking with those up the chain of command. Make an appointment to speak with the Student Adviser, Assistant Principal, or Principal and find out what they will do about the problem. Keep a log about who you speak with and when. Also keep a record of any plans of action.
According to Dr. Vicki Panaccione of the National Center For Bullying Prevention:
Open the Conversation—Don't Wait for Your Child
Beginning a conversation with your child can be tough, but this topic is crucial. Use the news stories as a conversation opener. Open the communication flow and listen to what your child has to say. Feel the child out and let him or her talk. Listen more than speak. Remain neutral, no preaching, and see where your child takes the topic.
If Your Child Opens Up, DO NOT Shut Him or Her Down!
If your child feels comfortable enough to explain to you a bullying situation he or she has experienced or observed, resist the urge to cross-examine! Getting emotional and angry and asking "Who was it? When did this happen?" will only close that communication channel. Instead, respond rather than react. Gentle prompts about how your child felt during the situation will be the most effective way to keep your child sharing with you. This is NOT the time for a lecture, it's time to listen.
Prepare Your Child to Stand Up to Bullying
One of the most important values that parents can teach their children is how to respect themselves. Once your child learns self respect, they develop self confidence and will be more prepared when dealing with a bully. Kids get tired of parents lecturing to them, but here are topics you can NEVER talk about too often with your child:
• Feeling good about who they are and making good decisions in their treatment of peers
• Standing up for what they believe in when around others who treat peers poorly
• Emphasizing that they NEVER have to "just take it" if they are being harassed in any way
• Letting them know that you ALWAYS "have their back"
Over half of all kids have been bullied, and cyber bullying in particular can happen over and over before a parent is aware of it. As parents, we need to remind our children that we are to help them, not judge them. It's crucial to let our children know that a situation is never hopeless.
Remember, No Conversation is Too Short, No Topic Too Frequent
Not every talk with your child has to last for hours. Short, frequent conversations about bullying, self confidence and respect, reinforces good communication with your child. Fostering open-mindedness will help them make better decisions. Just remember to keep your ears and arms open, and your judgment and lecturing mouth firmly closed. Through diligence and tolerance, you'll be doing your part to help combat the ugly practice of bullying and give your child the support he or she needs.
What else could be going on? The Food-Mood Connection
When kids experience mood swings, aggression, or depression we usually ask: “What happened?” Rarely do we ask: “What did you eat?” But research has proven that the food we eat is directly linked to our moods.