How to Protect Your Child from Bullying 

 Originally Written: October 2, 2009

By  Hanna Trafford

cartoon-bullying-imageNow that the kids are back at school, you may run into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. How do you know you child may be bullied?

Bullying is dangerous – it can systematically undermine child’s self-esteem and it doesn’t matter if its physical or emotional – both do great damage.

One way to know if you are dealing with a simple conflict or bullying is to look at the intent. If one child snatches a toy from another with “that’s mine?”, it may just be a simple conflict. A bully would more likely just take the toy and add a threat to the other child if he/she tries to get the toy back. But from this description – you can see that it is difficult to tell which situation is which.

There are signs that you can watch for:

Your child loved school but now doesn’t want to go

Complains of sore belly or headaches before going to school or being dropped off at a playmate’s house, etc.

No longer wants to play with a child he/she used to play with regularly

Repeatedly tells you that another child is “bugging” him or being mean to him

Suddenly becomes withdrawn, depressed, fearful or clingy

Starts to make derogatory remarks about himself, such as: “Ï am a loser”, “I am stupid”or “no one likes me”

He has unexplained “injuries” – little kids get bumps and bruises all the time, but if your child seems to have more than normal amount or “forgets” the details of getting hurt, you may want to pay closer attention and find out what is going on.

Three Steps to Protecting Your Child:

Step One: Find out what is going on

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, ask direct questions like :”Did someone hurt you?” or “Can you tell me exactly what happened?” Young children may not know how to talk about this so it is important you ask the right questions and ask lots of the, And no matter what answers you get, remain calm and focus on reassuring your child. The more supportive you are, the more you will find out.

Step Two: Take time to figure out how to respond. Children should not be expected to deal with bullies on their own – but there are things you can do to boost your child’s self-confidence. Remember that sometimes just acting as if the bullying doesn’t bother the child can stop the bully. Saying: “Stop that!” or “Knock it off!” in a loud voice and walking away may have a good result. So can ignoring the bully- some experts actually believe that if the bully doesn’t get attention, he will stop.

Step Three: Take action Yourself – If your child is a very young one – for example, attending nursery, pre-school or kindergarten, set up a meeting with the teacher. The teacher may not be aware of the situation, but if you don;t get help there, don’t give up. Use pressure until solution can be found – even if it means moving your child to a different class room or in extreme cases – a different school.

If the bullying is going on outside school and you know the other child’s parents, try talking to them. But don;t be surprised if you find a lack of concern – very often, parents do not see the lack of their child’s behaviour as being problematic. And sometimes it may be easier just to find another playground.

I would be more inclined to try opposite approach.I would invite and child doing the bullying to come and visit for a play day. I believe that in many, many cases, especially young bullies are children who have a difficulty having friends and being comfortable with other children. If you do that – do not leave them alone and assure your child that you will stay around. I would not recommend this approach for older children, but it seems logical for dealing with bullying problems with young children.

Most kids will face bullying at some point and being able to deal with the situation at young age will help your child to deal with it if it ever comes up in the future.

Do you have an experience you can share? Please do – you will be helping another person deal with a situation that you have already learned from! Your input is greatly appreciated!


Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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