What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied: Single Parent’s Guide
“I am a single parent, and my lovely kid is being bullied at school. Is my status as a single parent the main reason for a child’s violence? How can I stop bullying? Are there resources available to assist me in helping my child? ” Many threads on parenting forums begin like this.
There are many ways you can help your children cope with cruel treatment. However, to provide the correct aid, you first need to understand the true bullying nature.
What do the statistics say?
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, every fifth child (20.2%) reported being bullied at school. And many of them think the bullying will also continue after graduation.
The constant exposure to bullying at primary school and high school can traumatize the mental health of children. As a result, kids become fearful, depressed, have low self-esteem, and have sleep difficulties. Also, when a child is being bullied for a long period, suicidal thoughts may appear.
Students from different states ages 12-18 indicated that they had been subjected to different types of bullying, including:
- Threatened with harm – 3.9%;
- Destroying of the property on purpose – 1.4%;
- Being the subject of lies or rumors- 13.4%;
- Shoved, pushed, spit on, or tripped – 5.3%;
- Being made fun of, insulted, or name-calling – 13.0%;
- Exclusion – 5.2%;
- Others tried to make them do things they did not want to do – 1.9%.
The males are more likely to be subjected to physical violence, and females are often subjected to verbal (rumor) violence. But not all parents are aware of this.
The bullying symptoms and why it happens
Schoolchildren rarely speak openly about their problems to their parents for fear of condemnation and that the situation will worsen.
Typical bullying symptoms include emotional and physical complaints such as worries, fears, and tummy aches. In addition, the kids do not want to go to school for some reason. In such a way, kids try to avoid things that are making them stressed.
Childhood society is like a wild jungle, where everyone learns to survive, coexist, and defend themselves. In this case, the herd instinct is triggered. It pushes children to group together in search of protection. As a result, a sense of security gives confidence and the ability to defend their interests. After all, there will always be someone who will cover your back.
When someone is different or does not fit into the framework of the already established order of the children’s society, we have bullying. “Weaks” under the protection of a strong leader will attack the “black sheep” with a special effort. Why? They may also have a fear of being in the victim’s shoes.
Anyone can become a black sheep – the child is an excellent student, too beautiful, an orphan, poor, not talkative, or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Below are practical tips and advice for what you can do when your daughter or son is being bullied at school.
Tips How to Teach Your Child to Deal with Bullying
Avoid Wrong Attitudes
While giving guidance, people want to do what is best. But often, it leads to misunderstanding or alienation between the child and the parent. As a result, the child can retire into their shell and stop sharing their problems with a single parent.
To help your child deal with bullies, you should avoid such bullying myths:
“You need to learn how to resist bullies.”
Children who tell their father or mother about bullying are looking for support first. They may be upset and depressed. Therefore, it is not necessary to say that they have to cope with the situation independently. If a child asks for help, they can not do it alone.
“Words will never harm you, unlike sticks and stones.”
You shouldn’t underestimate the power of words. Unfortunately, sometimes the consequences of name-calling can cause mental pain for many years.
“We all went through it, and we’re fine.”
Bullying is not the behavior norm. It can lead to long-term negative mental and physical health effects. Many adults who were frequently bullied during their school years have PTSD.
“You have to stand up for yourself and fight back when you are bullied.”
Violence breeds violence. A bully fight can make the situation worse and hurt your child. Also, responding to bullying at school may cause your child to be punished for school disturbance.
Use a Strategy for Dealing with Bullying in School
When teaching children to handle bullies, a single parent first needs to explain how to respond to bullying appropriately:
- Don’t expect to be mistreated from the start. It would help if you were not wary and belligerent towards the new group of children. Instead, it would be best if you treated others the way you want others to treat you.
- Don’t let the bully make you feel bad. Ask, “So what?” You are not a hundred-dollar bill to please all. There will always be someone who doesn’t like something about you. However, this does not mean that you do not have positive traits. Always keep your benefits in mind.
- Disarm the bully with humor. Laugh at their name-calling or threats, and then leave. Are they trying to hurt you by pointing out your flaws? Instead, show that you can laugh at yourself and accept your weaknesses.
- Tell the bully how you feel and what you want them to do. Sometimes, when peers use name-calling, they do not think it can cause the victim severe emotional pain. For little hooligans, this is just entertainment. So express your feelings about name-calling or other types of bullying in a calm and confident voice.
Bullies often want to assert themselves at the expense of the victims because they look stronger and more authoritative. However, they do not yet realize that fear does not equal respect.
Take more serious action to stop bullying
If your children are being bullied every time they go to school, you should cooperate with the administration and other parents to improve the situation. Also, it would be more helpful if you prepared your child to make intelligent choices and teach them how to act if they experience or see someone being bullied.
Step 1. Talk to Your Child
First, talk to your child about the situation. You should find out how long the bullying has taken place, who the bully is, the reasons for the bullying, and how it all started. Also, avoid extreme reactions and judgments. It will help if you do not make hasty decisions until you see the whole picture.
Step 2. Report About Repeated Bullying
If your child is afraid or unwilling to report bullying on their own, you should go with them. Talk to the teacher, psychologist, and school principal to help resolve the situation under the school policy against harassment. If necessary, contact your family therapist, police officer, or specialist organizations such as Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP), Stomp Out Bullying, and National Bullying Prevention Center to help stop bullying.
Step 3. Contact the Offender’s Parents
Working as a team is a smart way to deal with peer bullying as soon as possible. As a parent of the victim party, you should call or email the offender’s parents to resolve the issue together. But, in no case should you accuse them of the improper upbringing of their child.
Step 4. Cooperate with Your Child’s School
Teachers may not know that your child is getting bullied at school because no one tells them about it. Let them know about any bullying that has happened, and feel free to suggest anti-bullying programs to add to school policy. Although many schools already have similar policies, they still lack resources and support from the community and parents.
Step 5. Teach Coping Skills
If your child is being bullied, remind them that it is not their fault, and you will always be on their side and ready to help. Children of all ages need to define their feelings to tell their parents about what happens.
Unfortunately, bullying at school is a common issue. Therefore, as a single parent, you should prepare your child in advance to avoid harassment from peers. Become an example for your child of how to get along with others. It is also essential to help them develop positive body language because our body unconsciously indicates our inner state and attitude towards others.
by: Natalie Maximets
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach at OnlineDivorce.com. She has expertise in mindfulness and sustainability. She is a published author focused on the most progressive solutions in the field of psychology. Natalie helps people go through fundamental life challenges, such as divorce, and build an entirely new life by reframing their personal narrative.