Today, Aspieside from The Aspie Side of Life is sharing her life experience and some advice on bullying, the situation that we should avoid our kids from falling into either as a victim or _God forbid_ as the bully.
Thank you CuteCoconut for allowing me to guest post on your wonderful blog! October is National Bullying prevention month and this is a very important cause. It happens at an alarming rate, 2.7 million children were bullied in the United States in 2010.
This topic is very important to me because I was a victim of bullying when I was growing up. It was very traumatizing and I had many moments of feeling unloved. At one point I had thoughts of suicide. Although I never acted on those thoughts I did turn to drugs to escape the pain. Even though I was familiar with it from my own experiences my son was also bullied. He has Asperger’s which added an extra target on his back that we had to work through. I hope that the knowledge I have gained through these experiences can help your children.
The first step is to talk to your child about bullying. One definition of a bully is: A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people. Make sure to explain and thoroughly discuss this definition with your child. As a society we tend to joke around with each other and sometimes there is a fine line. You don’t want your child to be overly sensitive but if something said to them upsets them they are entitled to those feelings.
Your child needs to know that if anyone is treating them poorly, says something that upsets them, or “picking on them” they need to A) Remove themselves from the situation and B) Report it immediately. If they are at school they should tell the teacher but tell them to also tell you when they get home. You as the parent should follow-up with the teacher to find out what happened and what was done about it.
It is also important for you to know as a parent that the teacher can be a bully as well. From personal experience I know this is a tough situation to be in because you are supposed to teach your child to respect the teacher. But sometimes the teachers behavior is just so inappropriate it can’t be ignored. I recently found this article about parents taking action after learning their children were bullied by a teacher.
In most states there are anti-bullying laws and it is important for you to know what those laws are. Additionally most schools have anti-bullying policies. I think schools really try to prevent bullying and most have implemented some type of anti-bullying campaign. They are teaching what bullying is and how to prevent it. Even in elementary schools you will find posters on the wall saying “Don’t be a bully!” Even with the current programs there are still bullies and even the best teachers cannot see everything.
Therefore it is important for you to do the best you can to make your child bully proof. You may or may not know this but bullies have a low self-esteem and they will prey on the weak. So make sure your child is strong emotionally, starting with a good healthy self-esteem. I recently found this article and learned that the experts agree with me!
Not only does a healthy self-esteem make them less likely to be bullied it also makes them more resistant to the effects of bullying. Make sure they know that they deserve to always be treated with respect and dignity. Keep the lines of communication open with your child. If they tell you they are upset about something, please take the time to listen. Sometimes parents get busy and say “it’s not so bad”. Try to remember for them it is that bad.
The article I referenced also discussed teaching social skills and helping them make friends. This is good advice and something I have had to do with my son. I have also taught my son that he really only needs a few good friends. In school they get caught up in thinking that they have to be liked by everyone. As adults we are not friends with everyone and it is never too early to teach your child that this is okay.
Work with your child to make sure they know how special they are and what their positive attributes are. Teach them positive self-talk and how to practice that. For my son we made lists of his positive qualities and reviewed them every night. If another child is telling them that they are stupid, their own internal voice might start agreeing. Teach them how to recognize this negative self-talk and turn it around to the positive self-talk you practiced together. Stress reduction also helps them to stay emotionally healthy. Teach them relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to help relieve stress. Being physically healthy also helps their emotional health. Make sure they eat correctly, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep.
Even if you do everything you can and your child has great self-esteem it is possible they could still be bullied. If your child comes home and tells you they have bullied document it, who, what, when. My son actually started his own log one time when another child was bullying him. I thought what a great idea! Not only did it document it but it gave him the opportunity to get the negative feelings of the event out on paper. Make sure to report any events to the school. Keeping an open line of communication with the school will be beneficial regardless of the outcome. Again make sure you document all conversations, emails are a good way to document the conversations. If your child is worried about you contacting the school assure them it will stay between you and the school official.
If you do not get results from the school level go to the district level to report the incident. Keep reporting it until you get answers. Although I am sharing with you tips based on my experiences this is not legal advice. If the situation warrants it you should contact an education lawyer in your area. The other option you always have is to change schools if the situation is bad enough. The most important thing is your child’s safety and well-being.
Author Brief Bio:
Aspieside is a mom of a young boy who has recently diagnosed with Asperger. She becomes the primary caregiver to her son’s needs beside working full time as a Nurse/Lawyer. She shares her ups and downs in life along with lot’s of information on Asperger, OCD, ADHD and how to cope up with all that. Her stories are always inspirational and you MUST check on her site HERE!