Part one of a four part series
As kids return to school in a few weeks, the anxiety of homework, tests and teachers is only pale in comparison to the playground prankster or bus stop bully. Kids may intentionally single out another child or in some instances, not realize they are exhibiting certain types of bully behavior as they live in an environment that is filled with threats and devoid of compassion.So, what can you do if your child is the target of the school bully?
To get started, you have to understand there are four types of bully behavior:
- Verbal – name calling, insulting, making racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, remarks or teasing, using sexually suggestive or abusive language, offensive remarks
- Physical – hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting or any other form of physical attack. Damage to or taking someone else’s belongings may also constitute as physical bullying.
- Indirect – spreading nasty stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, being made the subject of malicious rumors, sending abusive mail, and email and text messages (cyber bullying).
- Cyber Bullying – any type of bullying that is carried out by electronic medium.
In this series, we’ll begin by focusing on verbal bullying, one of the four types of bully behavior.
First, teach your child some simple self-directed strategies that reinforce empowerment and instill character. I like to call it “talk and walk.” Here’s how it works:
Let’s assume your child and Bobby the Bully are sitting next to each other during lunch. Bobby begins to taunt your child about his superhero lunchbox. While kids instinctively either shut down or rev up, you can teach your child to first “talk”.
“Bobby, your words aren’t very nice and they don’t make me want to sit next to you or be friends with you.”
By choosing these words, a couple things happen. You teach your child and Bobby that the words that were spoken i.e. behavior, are bad (not the child) and as a result of choosing those words, there are consequences (no longer a friendship). Your child also learns to take control of the situation and not give control of himself to the bully.
If the bully behavior continues, your child needs to remove himself from the lunch table entirely. This shows that there is result and consequence for behavior and as such, intolerable. Conversely, if Bobby stopped using bullying words, your child could thank him for stopping and reinforce he is happy to remain friends.
In our next blog, we’ll address physical bullying, whether from another classmate or even — a relative.
Do you have a story about a bully situation you want to share? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you and possibly share your story in an upcoming blog.
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