As school is back in session, children all over the country are bursting with excitement! Excitement is accompanied by change, which can also ignite emotional insecurities and challenges. As the year kicks off, as parents, brace yourself for some bumps along the way. The fact remains that rebelling, teasing and bullying are behaviors our children experience in one way or another. Bullying is not only universal; it has become progressively dangerous, in the extreme, triggering teenage suicide. The manifestation of bullying has garnered national and international attention and is at the forefront of parent’s minds in the United States. We would like to think that the values we teach in the home make their way onto the playground and that our schools keep our children safe. But sometimes that’s just not enough. The best way to prevent bullying is increasing awareness and encouraging your children to talk about the changes, the struggles and the accomplishments along this year’s journey. The good news is that bullying is preventable.
• Encourage your child to talk about what’s going on in their school, playground, activities and social circles. Don’t assume no news is good news.
• Listen in a caring and non-judgmental way-resist the temptation to jump in and “fix it” for them. Reassure them that you love and support them and you will help them through this difficult time.
• Coach your child in positive ways. Explain that there are solutions other than retaliation.
• Work with the school administration to protect students and prevent bullying.
• Take an active role in their social circles. Participate with your child and their friends, for instance have lunch on campus and observe verbal and nonverbal cues happening among classmates.
• Reassure your child that it’s okay to seek help from a teacher/administrator they trust. Make clear the difference between tattling and informing an adult.
• Most importantly, don’t overreact. Keep calm and don’t subject your child to your own fears and emotions. Listen quietly and allow yourself time to process the information before launching into action.
Not sure your child is being bullied or perhaps bullying others? When in doubt, trust your gut.
• Unexplainable injuries.
• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry.
• Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness.
• Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
• Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school or take the bus.
• Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations.
• Feelings of depression or decreased self-esteem.
• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.
If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem. For more information visit http://www.stopbullying.gov