HOW DO I HELP MY CHILD TO HANDLE SCHOOL BULLIES?

Henlie Holm

I am a child of the late 70s. My childhood years in Kroonstad were filled quality family time.  Church and community were important to us. People still greeted each other and everyone joined in prayer in times of drought. Giving thanks to our Lord for answered prayers was a joyful occasion.

However, there is also a sad side to my childhood … specifically my teenage years, where I suffered badly at the hands of school bullies. Kroonstad during those years was very conservative and bullying was not openly discussed. Only my best friend, Yolanda, knew how I suffered. I was an easy target for bullies, uncomfortable in my body, with a crust of acne, plump, clumsy, and shy. Today I can laugh when I think about how I let myself be intimidated, but for a child enduring bullying, it is no laughing matter.

Here are a few suggestions for parents to help your child to stand up against bullies.

  1. Be on the lookout for warning signs

Is your child teary and emotional after school? Does your child often “lose” personal possessions? Does he/she have inexplicable injuries? Do they make excuses to not go the school? All of these can be signs that a bully is making your child’s life difficult.

  • “I love you very much”

Communicate love to your child, your own as well as the love of God the Father. It makes your child more resistant to bullies and repairs bully damage on an emotional level. “You are perfect just as you are.”

  • The value of role play

Role play scenarios where your child interacts with the bully. Your child can be the bully and you can be your child. After a while change roles. In a playful manner, you help your child to remove this bully’s sting. 

  • Understand the bully

Sadly, bullies are often badly traumatised, emotionally neglected children. Help your child to understand this part of bully behaviour. Suddenly this bully becomes a child who is crying for help. In this way we teach our children to not only stand up against bullies, but also to become empathetic.

Good luck, Mom and Dad. It’s painful to watch your child being bullied, but your love will let them get up again.

Originally published in My Child and I, Summer, 2018.

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