October 2008-Parent Tip
How to Help Your Child if She/He is Being Bullied, is the one Bullying, or is a Bystander
There are three roles in bullying; 1) Bully Behavior, 2) Target/Victim, and 3) Bystander. Bullying is defined as "Bullying is unfair and one-sided. It happens when someone keeps hurting, frightening, threatening or leaving someone out on purpose. Usually there is an imbalance of power. Relational Aggression is defined as "Aggresive or hurtful behaviors from within social relationships or friendship groups. The purpose of these indirect behaviors is to socially exclude or damage a person's reputation or status within a peer group. " Examples of relational aggressive behavior is eye rolling, excluding, gossiping, spreading rumors, sending hurtful messages on cell phones or on the computer.
Bullying is different than Conflict.
Conflict is defined as a disagreement of equal powers; bullying has the intent to hurt and has an imbalance of power. Conflict is a normal and healthy part of life, bullying is not. Also, use the IN/OUT rule in which you ask your child if she/he is trying to get someone IN trouble or help him/her get OUT of trouble. If it is to help him/her get OUT of trouble, use the strategies below to help stop an unsafe or bullying sitation. If you discover that it is indeed conflict, use problem solving steps to help your child handle a conflict with a friend. Ask their teacher what they are currently learning about conflict management or talk about what your child learn in years past. For ideas on developmentally appropriate strategies, please feel free to call me at 206-329-3260 X220.
What to do if your child is bullying
First of all, make sure you are clear that his/her behavior is bullying and not conflict. Intervene immediately with the 3 R's of Discipline-restitution, resolution, and reconciliation. In other words, have him/her fix what is wrong-apologize and tell others he or she was wrong. Then have your child figure out how they can keep it from happening again and lastly, have them come up with a way to heal the hurt-perhaps inviting the friend to participate in an outside of school activity.
Create opportunities for your child to "do good" and compliment those efforts. Try to nurture empathy and discuss how someone else feels or how would they feel if this happened to them (if they were in their shoes.). Use a Behavior Change Worksheet or do some type of reflection work. Monitor TV, and computer activities and try to get him/her engaged in more contructive, entertaining and more energizing activities.
What to do if your child is the target
First of all, be a good listener to your child and let him/her know that she/he is not alone in this. Second, let him/her know it is not his/her fault. Guide her through the problem-solving process and use role-playing to help him/her handle the situation assertively in the future and involve him/her in activities outside of school. Above all else, be a postitive role model.
What to do if your child is the bystander
If your child is a bystander (witness) to bullying behavior, help your child eliminate excuses for not getting involved. Review with him/her different ways to help; 1) Refuse to join in on the hurtful behavior, 2) Change the subject, 3) Tell the person doing the bullying to stop, 4) Be a friend to the target or victim, and 5) Tell an adult at school. Compliment your child when she/he has helped a friend in a difficult situation and be a postive role model.