Every child should be entitled to fun and laughter on the playground. Recess is an exciting moment of fresh air and freedom, where children can play, run, talk with their friends, and release the many stresses of the school day. Unfortunately for some children, recess can be a nightmare that turns into a source of distress instead.
As loving parents, we want the best for our children; we love them, protect them, and do everything we can to keep them happy. But what about school, when we are not around to make sure all is well? School is the place where children learn about boundaries, how to behave in social settings, and how to be self-reliant. Those are very important teachings in your child’s life; however, when your child becomes a victim of bullying, it can destroy your child’s self-confidence and even result in lifelong repercussions.
Bullying can happen in many different ways: physical, emotional/psychological, verbal, and even over the internet. Here are five ways you can help your child stay clear of bullying situations, or deal with them if they arise.
Asking your child, “How was your day?” is probably going to yield the same answer every time: “Good.” Children don’t always know what to say, even if there is something wrong at school.
Using open-ended questions will engage your child and help him to speak more about his emotions and how he felt during the day. Try questions like these:
- Tell me something that made you laugh today
- Tell me something you saw today that you didn’t like
- Which friend did you have the most fun with at recess?
2. Warning signs
Always remain vigilant about common warning signs of bullying, such as:
- Unexplained bruising and injuries
- Frequent stomachaches, headaches, and pretend-illnesses to stay home
- Missing or damaged personal belongings
- Your child comes home very hungry every day, as if she did not eat lunch
- Gets angry or defensive when questioned about school/mood swings
- Sudden drop in academic performance
Find some time to volunteer at school, either during lunch, recess, or even during class. Having a parent present can reassure your child and make it easier for you to observe behavior patterns around other classmates, and what goes on during recess.
4. Inform the school
If you know or suspect your child is being victimized at school, talk to his teacher(s) as soon as possible. Also talk to the school counselor and principal. The more ‘ears and eyes’ you have at school protecting your child, the safer it will be for all involved. Identifying the child or children responsible for bullying is also critical.
5. Educate your child
Your child needs to learn the proper and safest ways to respond to bullying. Make sure you educate your child about how he or she can handle situations at school:
- Ask the person to stop and then walk away. If that fails, advise your child to promptly report the incident to a teacher or responsible adult.
- Make sure your child knows not to retaliate, or do the same to other children. The problem needs to stop, not aggravate.
We can’t always be there to protect our children. Some childhood difficulties are good for character building and self-confidence. Bullying, on the other hand, is very damaging and needs to be stopped. Even adults face bullying situations at times, so the sooner we educate our children about how to handle and solve bullying issues, the sooner we will grab bullying by the horns and do good for society at large.