Handling Bullied Child

Breathe. First and foremost, you need to relax. Children pick up on our energy. If you are angry and overwhelmed by the situation, your child will feel it. When children feel our energy, they do not know what to do with it. They do not yet have the tools to process their own feelings and emotions, let alone an adult’s. This would be a great time to practice my favorite “counts of four breaths”. This is when you inhale over a count of four, hold it for a count of four, and release over a count of four.

Refocus. As much as you want to seek revenge, this will solve nothing. Instead, use that energy to focus on what really matters- your child. This is the perfect opportunity to show your child that you will always have his or her back. Validate their feelings by saying something like “I know that it made you sad when Sally wouldn’t let you play with her at recess. It is confusing when our friends say things that are hurtful.” All kids handle bully situations differently. Some kids will come home and tell you every detail about the situation, while others might have some embarrassment or shame around it, and may say very little, if anything at all. In either case, let them know that you support them and that it is not okay for friends to be mean to each other. If your child did not come home and tell you about the situation, and, perhaps you heard about it from a source other than your child, bring it up to your child. Ask about feeling and model the importance of expressing emotion.

Reach out. Let the school know about it. You do not need to tell your child that you will be contacting the school. This may cause more anxiety, because no child wants to be seen as a tattle-tale. Schools do not take bullying lightly, and part of your job as a parent is to advocate for your child. It is simply unacceptable for any child to feel unsafe, either physically or emotionally, while at school. Start by reaching out to the teacher, and if it continues, go straight to the next in the chain of command.

Be mindful. This is a big one! How many times do we snap at our children when they ask us a question at an inopportune time? How often do we rush them when we are trying to multitask and they want to tell a longwinded story about what their best friend had for lunch yesterday? Slow down. Being mindful at these times helps to lay the foundation of your relationship with your child. If you are snapping at your child because you are too busy to listen, do you think they will feel comfortable coming to you when they are being picked on? When your child comes to you and seems to be rambling on and on incessantly about what you might think is nonsense, slow down and listen. What you might consider to be nonsense is probably very important to your child. And, if you take the time to listen, it will not go unnoticed. The goal here is to have your child feel comfortable enough to come to you when they really need you.

All about Parenting Problems

Negotiation means the child wins – Say what you mean and mean what you say. When you find your child trying to change the rules or justify why s/he shouldn’t have to do something you are sunk. The best response to their protests is to calmly and firmly repeat your position without offering an opening for discussion.

Do not reward bad behaviour – When a child does not do what is expected, then they miss out on the fun. For example, not cleaning their room means that they do not go out with friends. They do their work FIRST and then are rewarded. This takes strong resolve on the part of the parent but pays off in the long-run.

Boundaries are a good thing – The child is not your therapist and definitely should not know about all of your personal problems. They need to know that you are not an ATM that will dispense cash into their adulthood. Why should you be faithful in going to your job while they lounge in the basement without contributing because they decided to quit school and not work? Set boundaries, communicate and enforce them.

Consistency makes it easier for next time – Sometimes we are tired and let the child get away with not doing what is required or expected. That just causes problems for the future. Self-discipline is a learned behaviour. Just think about how you feel if you don’t pay your bills this month and then have to face double next month. As a parent, you need to be consistent in your own responsibilities and in ensuring that your child does his/hers.

You can be the bad guy – Sometimes children need to have an excuse for not doing something. I know several who are relieved to know that they can say “My parents would kill me if I did that!” It lets them off the hook.

Your job is to work yourself out of a job – I know that you love to cook, clean and do laundry for your family but if you don’t show them how to do these things, they will be at a disadvantage in the future. Teach them how to manage their money and look after themselves without you so that they can succeed in life.

You do not have to make up for your parents’ failings – I often hear parents say that they want their children to have everything they had as children that was good and everything they didn’t have. Wow! Good luck with that one!

Be a problem-solver or get one – Teach your children how to think and make good choices knowing that there will be rewards or consequences. Often children listen better to someone other than the parent so if they are not doing well, perhaps it would be best to enlist someone else to help them get on track.