In my previous blog Bullying on the Playground – Part 1, I discussed how bullying has existed since the beginning of time, but the escalation of it in our schools is becoming a growing concern. In addition, I addressed the emotional risks that ongoing bullying can have both on the bully as well as on the victim.
This week’s blog addresses the eagerly anticipated questions…So now what? And where do we go from here?
So how can parents help their children who are being bullied? And what can we as parents do to stop the cycle of violence?
You can help your children at any age by teaching them:
Most people can tolerate one episode of teasing or name calling or being shunned for something they are wearing. But when it goes on and on, bullying can put a person in a constant state of fear and begin a downward spiral of low self esteem, insecurity and vulnerability to a whole range of mental health problems.
And while the realization is frightening that bullying can begin as early as the toddler years, we as parents can find solace in the fact that when it is identified early and parents can be proactive at recognizing the signs of victimization and perpetration, much can be done to stop that cycle of violence before it ever really begins.
For more information on how to help your children if they are bullying or being bullied, please feel free to contact me.
Image used is Bully Free Zone by Eddie~S, used according to Creative Commons’ attribution license.
This week, I’ll be writing the first in my two part series about bullying.
Although it has always existed, bullying in schools has become a more common phenomenon in recent years. But, what happens when the bullying is now happening well before our children even enter school?
There are many different definitions of bullying and there is often disagreement on how extensive the behaviour has to be before it is considered to be bullying.
For the purpose of this blog, I am going to define bullying as ‘repeated acts of aggression – physical, verbal or emotional – aimed at other individuals for the sole purpose of hurting or intimidating them’.
So are we able to identify bullies as early as toddlerhood? Bullying occurs at all ages, and yes, there are often signs of it even in the toddler years. A fun play date can often turn stressful as one toddler tries to hit, bite, steal toys or intimidate the others. Hardly a fun play date. These behaviours are often a normal part of growing up – protecting territory, learning to share and compromise. But on occasion, without proper intervention, these behaviours could be indicative of more severe intimidation tactics down the road.
In the early years, it is often difficult for parents to differentiate normal behaviour (children taking toys from one another, with no malicious intent) from bullying (which has malicious intent). So how do you deal with a toddler who is bullying?
Do you scold them? Do you encourage them to work it out between themselves?
It is often a difficult decision for parents to make. You want to encourage your children to stand up for themselves, and not rescue them, but you also don’t want them to become the victims of bullying or learn to bully others.
Research has shown that people who are bullied or abused by their peers are at higher risk than the average population of developing mental health problems, suffer from low self esteem, higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety. These people also have a higher incidence of suicide or attempted suicide.
Bullies themselves are also at risk of problems in the long term. Bullying is violent behaviour, even if it is verbal or emotional. Bullying in school often leads to more bullying as children grow up, leading to increased incidence of drug and alcohol addiction as well as greater representation in the criminal justice system.
Clearly, violence in any form is not considered a viable solution, and the best way to teach your children to stand up for themselves is by setting a good example.
Image: Courtesy of GreaK
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