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How to help your kids deal with bullies -- or with being one

Helpful tips to make dealing with a bully easier

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  7659 views  |  2 comments  |      Rate this now! 

Think of the word "bully" and two sterotypes often spring to mind: Big, burly, meat-headed adolescent boy or pretty, popular, cruel "mean girl." But anyone can be a bully -- and anyone, even seemingly secure or well-liked girls and boys, can be the victim.

"We're really big on labeling kids," says Peggy Moss, author of anti-bullying children's book Say Something and the mother of 12- and 9-year-old girls. "And it's really important to acknowledge that your child may have been a target yesterday, will be a bystander another day and is going to be a bully one day and we have all played all of those roles. I think we do kids a real disservice by putting them in boxes."

Arlene Richards, a Los Angeles teacher and administrator with more than 40 years of education experience, points out that no school can be completely bully-free. If you have a child with special needs, he or she may be more vulnerable to being bullied because of his or her possible physical, emotional, mental, or social issues, she points out. She suggests role-playing to help your child practice what to do to ignore or confront a bully, and to be sure that the child understands that bullying can mean different things, from name calling or put downs to actual physical assault.

Richards created Bing Note, a line of products for parents and teachers to use to address, understand, and help prevent bullying. She offers these tips for how to spot if your child is being bulled, and how to tell if your child is the one exhibiting bullying behavior.

Is your child being bullied?

When you notice uncharacteristic changes in your child’s demeanor, begin asking questions and start observing his/her behavior before and after school.

1.) When your child comes home from school is he showing signs of anxiety or depression?  Does he exhibit unexplained mood swings, crying spells, excessive anger, social withdrawal, or refusal to discuss his day with you?

2.) Are his grades dropping?  Is he begging to drop out of after school programs?

3.) Do you notice mysterious cuts and bruises?  Does he talk about suicide? 

4.) Does he complain about going to school or invent reasons to stay home?

5.) Does he continually lose his possessions?  Is he continually asking for more lunch money?  This may be a sign that someone is taking his lunch money and other possessions.

6.) Ask him about his school activities and friendships.  Explain bullying and provide examples of bullying. Ask him if bullying happens at his school.

7.) Does he have self-esteem techniques to help him become bully proof? has wonderful self-esteem building products.

About the Author

Lylah M. Alphonse is a journalist, blogger, and mom and stepmom to five kids. She is a Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine, writes about juggling full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day here at Work It, Mom!, and blogs about everything else at Follow her on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

Read more by Lylah M. Alphonse

2 comments so far...

  • It helps to start by teaching your child that everyone desearves to be treated respectfully. It helps to ask them to put themselves in the persons shoes that is getting bullied. If it would make you feel bad then it shouldn't be happening and maybe stepping in and saying stop or going for help to stop what is happening is advisable depending on the situation.
    I've raised my children to stick up for the underdog-always, and my children have. They have befriended nearly every person group or click in school. Be nice to everyone, they may return the favor one day. Befriend everyone. Realize the rich spoiled snobby popular people only back one another because they are too afraid to be an individual-they may stand out- they don't like standing out, at least, not alone, so they all act the same. It's funny, it's like a game of follow the leader or quail following every turn and movement the one in front of it made.
    It's important your children understand that it's okay to be different, be yourself and own it. Help your child grow into a responsible person by teaching them to help when the need arises. I've seen this come back to my daughter, when she needed it, help was there.

    Recognizing it, is altogether different, and every child reacts differently. Ultimately there willl be sort of behavior change, they may become withdrawn, depressed, sullen, angry, defensive, cry alot, have dirt or grass stains all over, cuts and bruises torn clothing, missing clothing, teeth knocked loose or out. Personal belongings may be gone or missing and not return home with them. They may be ravenous when returning home from school, if they have lunch money or lunch taken from them. They may start calling names or becoming abusive themselves. They may feigh illness and not want to go to school. They may stop doing homework. Any difference in behavior should be a key to any parent that it's time to initiate open conversation with thier child. They may spout off that they hate so and so or hate this or that. Know your child and listen. They may start to say something and then hesitate and not finish, they may become clingy afraid to tell you what is happening. They may make it into a joke, or tell it as if it's happening to someone else to see your reaction.

    Self esteem to become bully proof? Ah- we have brains , why don't we use them?, comes to mind.
    It's okay to teach your child that getting bullied is wrong and they have the right to say STOP! Knock It off! Leave Me alone! Help! Yell Fire! and protect themselves by pushing an attacker away. It's okay to defend themselves within a reasonable limit. I've watched a bully back off when my son put his fists up to the bully and say" You want to fight?" "Then lets fight!" Sometimes calling their bluff works wonders.
    It's also okay to attempt to respond with witty jest or joke or compliment which can throw a bully off gaurd, not knowing how to respond, and therefore will leave you alone. It may take several attempts at this. Or attempts at making conversation, questions like? Do you feel so badly about yourself you feel the need to pick on/hurt me? Your child needs to learn skills to outthink the bully.
    There's a reason this kid-or bully is doing this. They have esteem problems themselves or a bad home life, inferiority complex, something that causes this behavior. Your child needs to understand it's not him/her that has it rough all alone, and that the bully is behaving that way for a reason. find out the reason, and you find out how to address the problem.

    Sometimes there's no fixing a kid that is the spitting image of a parent. You can't fix stupid.

    Perhaps, I should have written this article, punctuation, spelling and grammar aside, I adressed the actual question with a corresponding answer. I love writting, and I just warmed up. LOL

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Just Me on 22nd March 2010

  • The article title was misleading. It tells us how to know whether your child is being bullied or is a bully, but offers no tips to help them.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Stickers on 25th February 2010