Is Your Child Being Bullied?

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Nobody likes to be bullied. And no one should have to be, especially your child. Although bullying can happen at any age, it seems to be particularly prevalent during the elementary and middle school years. Can anything be done to stop it? Yes.

Here are some practical guidelines and advice, gathered from our many years’ experience with kids, parents and bullying here at Westchester Health Pediatrics.

Rodd Stein 2R WEB72

Rodd Stein, MD, FAAP

Bullying can take many forms, but it typically includes:

  • Hitting, shoving or tripping
  • Taunting, teasing
  • Making fun of the way a kid acts, looks or talks
  • Writing mean things or sending hurtful pictures of someone online (cyberbullying)

Why do kids bully?

Bullying is a form of aggression where one or more kids repeatedly intimidate, harass or abuse another kid who can’t defend himself/herself.

Girls who bully usually do so in emotional ways, while boys who bully often do so in both physical and emotional ways. But whether they are male or female, bullies seek power at someone else’s expense.

Bullies are typically influenced by:

  • Uncontrolled anger
  • No consequences
  • Domestic violence, emotional and/or physical abuse, and anger and hostility at home
  • Media and video games
  • Low impulse control
  • Low tolerance of frustration
  • A need to control or dominate
  • Trouble with authority
  • Extreme aggressiveness

7 ways to help your child stand up to bullying

Here is some advice that over the years, our parents have told us has been very helpful regarding bullying:

1) Be aware of signs that your child may be being bullied, such as frequent headaches, stomachaches or not wanting to go to school.

Also, ask your child whom he or she has lunch with or plays with at recess, and the names of his/her friends. If you sense something is wrong, contact the proper administrator at school.

2) Talk with your child about bullying.

Many children who are being bullied will open up in the right environment, such as the car or a similar place where you have little eye-to-eye contact. The most important thing is to listen. Don’t promise that you won’t tell anyone, because you may need to become involved. Assure your child that you will do your very best not to make the problem worse.

3) Practice role-playing at home.

Help your child to react calmly and confidently to taunting. For example, your child can practice saying “Leave me alone” and then walking away. Help him/her understand that responding with physical aggression or insults will usually only make the problem worse.

4) Help build your child’s self-esteem by encouraging new activities or clubs.

This can be a very good way of making new friends (and avoiding the bully/bullies). Plus, having several friends and interests can boost a child’s confidence and make him/her less likely to be bullied.

5) Encourage your child to exhibit the qualities that make a good friend.

This include sharing, empathy, compassion, humor and loyalty.

6) Suggest to your child that he/she join activities that are supervised by a responsible adult.

Very important to know: Bullying is less likely to occur near adults.

7) Encourage your child to talk to a teacher, school counselor or you.

Many children are too embarrassed or afraid to tell an adult about bullying. They may think that involving a grownup will only make the problem worse, but actually, silence only favors the bully. Telling someone about what’s going on is the first step to stopping it.

If your think your child is being bullied, please come see us

If you suspect, or know for a fact, that your child is being subjected to bullying, please make an appointment with Westchester Health Pediatrics to see one of our highly-experienced pediatricians, hopefully with your child. Together, we’ll determine the best way forward so that your child can be happy, self-confident and safe.

By Rodd Stein, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics.

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About the Author: ML Ball