The issue regarding bullying in schools has grabbed a lot of attention lately. Given that 28% of middle school students experience some manner of bullying, it's no surprise that suicide and depression rates keep on increasing.
Even celebrities have taken the initiative to campaign against bullies because there have been cases where kids were beaten to death.
How can you as parent bully-proof your child and help them face these odds?
Child self-esteem expert Todd Gaster says,"It's a matter of building a confident and resilient child at home. You may not be able to stop the bullies from coming, but you can teach your child to skillfully handle the situation themselves."
He also says that encouraging resilience at home is like teaching your child to bounce back. More importantly, your child makes the transition from victim to survivor.
Bullies aim for kids who lack self-esteem and confidence simply because it's easy to intimidate them, hence the reason for establishing both. The first step is to create a great support system.
Your child should always feel accepted and welcome no matter who they are or who they decide to be. This provides a "buffer" if they are getting bullied and the chances of them resorting to suicide or hurting themselves are dramatically decreased.
1. Parents should promote positive emotions
In other words, opportunities to laugh and enjoy life. Parenting typically involves setting guidelines and rules, but it shouldn't overshadow the fundamental need to experience happy moments.
"A child who is bullied is usually in a very disempowering emotion. Depression, fatigue, frustration, sadness. By teaching our children who to be in control of their emotions, how to process their emotions we can put them in a position to succeed in the world of bullies," said Gaster.
In addition, parents should let their kids know they are on their side no matter what. Make time to talk about negative social situations and enforce the fact that you'll be there whenever they need you. If they know they have the full support of their family then children naturally feel more confident.
2. Explore areas of interest your child may have.
Help them to take part in activities which make them happy and essentially allow them to feel good about themselves. Don't get hung up on what you want them to do.
Participate in their excitement for whatever they choose to do. Another powerful advantage parents can give their children is teaching them mindfulness. Ultimately, it will help them to control their emotions and how they react. It's important that children become "aware" of themselves.
3. Develop Their Problem solving skills
Instead of just providing answers when they have a problem, help them to explore all the possibilities. Present different aspects and ask them how they think each approach is going to play out or what solution will have the best result. It is also essential to keep them focused on the future.
This doesn't mean indulging in a fantasy world.
Remind them of realistic goals they have like getting a license or traveling abroad between graduation and enrolling in college. Their attention should primarily be driven towards what they want to achieve, not where they are.
4. Lead by example.
Your actions will speak louder than your words and your children need to see it. Like I mentioned before, you can't stop the bullies from coming, but you can provide your child with the necessary resilience to overcome any intimidation.
All kids involved in bullying -- whether they are the ones being bullied, bullying others or witnessing bullying -- can be affected. It is important to support all kids involved to make sure the bullying doesn't continue and effects can be minimized.