Bullying: Reasons, Signs, And How Parents Can Help Their Children Tackle This Problem

LifeStyle & Health

Bullying can be really harmful to children, threatening their confidence and psychological well-being, as well as leaving life-long scars in the soul. In the worst cases, it can result in an ultimate aggressive act against oneself (suicide) or others (school shooting).

That's why parents should never ignore or underestimate this problem. Furthermore, bullying can't be only the issue of a victim. It's also an important indicator for the parents of those kids, who opt to bully others.

In general, it's a systematic society problem, which each and every school, teacher, and parent should address and solve.

Let's take a deeper look at the problem.

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Bullying vs. Teasing

The most important thing is to understand what's bullying is and how to tell it from teasing. The latter is mostly made in a friendly joking manner, and - what's most important - on the equal footing. For example, a child sticks out his or her tongue, and the other does the same, and both laugh.

The victim can't tease a bully because he or she is too scared. They also feel offended and humiliated. In other words, bullying is physical or psychological violence against another person, the primary goal of which is to impose control and do harm.

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Reasons of bullying

There are two aspects of this problem: a victim and a bully. Speaking of the former, there are always children who are more emotional, sensitive, and delicate than others. They lack confidence and assertiveness and often stand out of the group. They can also be physically weaker.

Obviously, from the point of normal people, that doesn't entitle anyone to offend such children. However, unfortunately, the personality of a bully, and what's even more important, the dynamics of kids' groups somehow make such attitude and behavior not only possible but also desired.

Let's not forget that childhood is about learning what's right and what's wrong, establishing boundaries and limits. That's why children are more likely to turn into wild, uncontrolled herd, ready to eliminate their prey at any cost, or at least show the place in the social hierarchy to an outcast.

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On the side of offenders, bullying is about domination and control. There's often a child in class who craves to be popular, to lead, and to feel important and significant. Putting down those who are weaker seems like a good method to achieve this goal. Such kids often lack control in their lives and are exposed to a great inner tension, so making others suffer is a compensatory mechanism.

Finally, bullies are often children who have been raised in families with particular patterns of behavior: dominant members oppressing the submissive ones. For example, it can be the vertical relations between the child's parents, in which physical and mental violence is involved.

There are also people who can say derogatory things to their children: "You are stupid" (fat, ugly, loser, disappointment, look horrible in this dress, failed again, etc.). There are tons of ways to offend and hurt a child. The latter adopts this style of communication and uses it with others.

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Bullying and social media

Let's face it, some of the adults don't think before they write offensive messages and comments on social networking websites. Do our kids see it? Definitely. Do they believe that it's an excellent means to prey their victim? Absolutely. It's because cyberbullying can be applied 24/7 every single day and not only in school.

The victim of cyberbullying is subject to violence at any place because teens (who are most prone to that) have mobile phones at all times with them.

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How to understand that your child is bullied?

When it comes to the physical violence, the signs are obvious: bruises, scratches, torn clothes or personal things (notebooks).  Also, children often tell their parents about their problems, but not always.

The important markers are changes in behavior and emotional state. For example, a child becomes easily annoyed, more vulnerable, or anxious. Otherwise, the kid might become more restrained and quiet than usual.

The behaviors may include the reluctance to take the bus to school, or go out to play, or attend a birthday party. The changes in the emotional reaction to the question "How's school?" can be a sign too.

The best way is to describe the situation of bullying that you know or even experienced yourself. Talk about your feelings and ask a child about what he or she feels.

READ ALSO: 4 Phrases Parents Think Will Make Their Kids Behave Better. But They Have The Opposite Effect

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How to help?

1. Appreciate the fact that child told you about the problem, provide love, support, and comfort. Never blame the kid.

2. Explain that many children get bullied. Give examples of your own experience or cases in your family or your friends.

3. Estimate the bully's behavior: it's bad and wrong. Explain that in any case, the full responsibility for the violence in bullying situation lies on an offender, not the victim.

4. Tell your kid, you're on his or her side and promise to tackle this problem together.

5. Adress the issue to the school teacher and counselor. Together, you can work out the best strategies that will help your kid.

6. In some cases, it might be ok to meet the parents of the child, but it's highly recommended to do it with the third party present.

7. If the situation is really bad, check out the laws of your state and report the case to the authorities.

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Kids' anti-bullying strategies

Psychologists do not recommend to teach a child to fight back because it can escalate the conflict. Furthermore, some children don't like to do it at all. Here are a couple of strategies you can offer your kid:

- Find a person to whom you can talk about it. This person can give you some useful advice, provide comfort and support.

- Avoid: try not to use the same bathroom as your bully. Don't use your locker when you are alone and try not be close to this child.

- Engage a friend. Bullies often pick up those who are weaker. If there are two of you, they are more unlikely to offend. Make a deal with your pal that you'll spend time between lessons and on a bus together.

- Control your emotions. Bullying is about making you sad or angry. Once you express these feelings, the offender knows he got you. Count to ten, try to look calm and not impressed.

- Ignore. It might be really hard to ignore. But remember: Whatever a bully says is not about you, it's about him or her. We're never loved because we're good, and we're never mistreated because we are bad. Mean attitude just shows that the offender has real problems that he or she can't bear inside, and thus transfers on others in the form of assault.

- Be assertive. Remember you are born a human being with the same rights as others. No one is entitled to offend you. You have the right to defend yourself, as a superhero protects others from evil. Believe in this simple fact, and then, with all the bravery of your heart, tell the bully to stop, and then walk away.

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Overcoming the harm

You need to give as many positive emotions to your child as possible. Think of after-school activity, where your child can find new friends. Team sports or arts (such as theatre) will be great places, where a kid can feel him or herself a part of the community.

Source: Kids Health

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