Bullies and bullied are both victims.
A bully may:
- Tease or hit other children
- Demonstrate a lot of angry behavior or displays of temper
- Defy parents or teachers
A victim of bullying may:
- Find it hard to join in with friends
- Be taken advantage of or teased by other children
- Show some helplessness or be easily upset
- Be timid, shy or different in some way
If you think your child may be a bully
- Teach him or her about respecting other people’s rights—don’t just assume your child will know this. Constantly stress how others feel, and how important it is not to do things that make other people feel bad. Try to teach your child to treat others as he or she would like to be treated.
- Have firm rules that don’t accept mean or nasty behavior towards others.
- Teach your child to negotiate. Use role play to teach him how to ask for things he wants rather than forcing his will on others.
- Keep a record of bullying incidents. This will help to identify whether anything in particular is causing your child stress and setting him off.
- Don’t use bullying tactics at home to make your child do what you want.
- Make sure you’re positive about all of your child’s good, cooperative behavior.
If you think your child may be a victim of bullying
- Explain that bullies are children who may be upset or sad, perhaps because of unhappy events at home.
- Tell your child it’s not his fault and explain that no one deserves mean treatment.
- Use role play to teach him how to handle incidents, examples include not showing you’re bothered or upset by teasing, saying firmly you don’t like it and walking away.
- Explain there’s no shame in just keeping out of the bully’s way.
- Listen and talk, take the time to listen to your child’s worries about the events in his day.
- Be alert to when things seem to get worse - you may need to intervene.
- Build self-esteem by finding activities your child can be good at.
- Always praise your child, especially for acts of courage.
- Don’t overprotect your child, as it may only make him feel more vulnerable and helpless.
- Is your child dominated at home by siblings, for example? If so, maybe he’s used to being treated like a doormat.
What forms does bullying take?
- Verbal—calling names, sarcastic remarks, and put-downs
- Physical—hitting, pushing
- Psychological—deliberately excluding from a group, spreading malicious stories
- Threatening—demands for money or toys
Most bullying takes place in or near schools. If the bullying is serious, you may need to report it to the school. Most schools have a bullying policy and should take clear steps to do something about your complaint.
If you’re not satisfied, go to the school governors or to your local education authority. If the bullying is very serious, some parents opt to move their child to a different school for a fresh start, or decide to educate at home.
Even children in this younger age group may use text messages or the web—so be aware if your child has a mobile phone or uses the internet, that these forms of communication can extend bullying into the home or non-school time.