January 23rd, 2011 | 36 Comments

Bully Proof Your Child

by Lori Lite

“More than 160,000 children skip school every day because they feel threatened by another student.” - National Association of School Psychologists

The bully gains power while crushing another human being’s spirit. He or she increases his own self-value and satisfies his need to control others as he steals his victim’s self-esteem rendering them with feelings of worthlessness. But contrary to popular belief, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that children who bully actually have an average to above-average self-esteem. This changes the old belief that bullies have low self-esteem and don’t like themselves. Bullies are confident, have lots of friends, lack empathy, and have a positive attitude towards violence. Any child with less confidence and self-esteem than the bully becomes a potential target. Children that are bullied are facing a complicated multi-faceted dilemma that most adults are unable to unravel. Teachers, psychologists, and bullying experts all argue their various methods on how to stop bullying. Yet bullying incidents continue to rise.

The age of technology has introduced our children to a new age of bullies. Cyberbullying has been added to the list of physical, emotional and mental harassment. Bill Belsey, teacher and creator of the award winning website Bullying.org offers the following definition; “Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.”  Technology offer bullies a twenty-four hour hotline to their victims.

If you think your child is safe because he is not the class nerd and he plays football, think again. Technology, desensitized youth, and confident bullies often choose victims that are good looking, athletic, smart, caring and creative. Teachers are often shocked when they hear this particular child is being bullied. Who is this child? Very often he or she is exactly the person the bully wishes they could be. So how do we as parents bully proof our children?

The best line of defense starts at home. In order to bully proof your child take an honest look at your family dynamics.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you bully yourself, beating yourself up for mistakes you make?
  • Do you bully your children, over-criticizing them and correcting everything they do?
  • Do you bully your spouse or does your spouse bully you? Do you treat each other disrespectfully?
  • Do you accept bullying from your friends? Do you remain in unbalanced relationships?
  • Do you forget to stand up for yourself?
  • Do you ignore sibling rivalry that involves hitting, taunting and teasing?
  • Do you model bullying behavior to your children? Making plans to exclude others? Gossip?
  • Do you call your children names?
  • Do you always intervene on the playground in behalf of your child?
  • Do you always try to please others?
  • Do you say yes to everything and everyone?
  • Do you forget to encourage emotional resilience?

If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions be aware that this can set up a pattern for your child to either be bullied or become the bully. Like the attraction between negative and positive ions, the child with bullying capabilities will be drawn to the child that endures or witnesses the above behaviors. It is a familiar pattern.

Izzy Kahlman author of Bullies2Buddies believes that we as a society are doing a lousy job of promoting resilience. “Rather than helping kids become people who can weather the slings and arrows of life, we are producing a generation of emotional marshmallows-kid who believe they are entitled to a life in which no one upsets them, and can’t tolerate any insult to their mind and bodies.” Raising children to be resilient is crucial in warding off a bully. The child that reacts emotionally distraught to a bully will only encourage the bully. So what can we do as parents to protect our children without turning them into marshmallows a bully will eat for dessert?

Tips:

  • Raise confident children based on inner belief not false praise.
  • Guide children, but allow them to handle normal playground conflicts.
  • Socialize your children and seek social skills classes if needed.
  • Expose your child to various groups and activities.
  • Find groups or activities that support your child’s uniqueness.
  • Role-play laughing remarks off, banter, and creating comebacks.
  • Introduce coping skills to release anger or hurt feelings.
  • Empower children to manage anxiety.
  • Maintain strong family connections with parents and siblings.
  • Talk to your child about how they feel or the challenges they face.
  • Help your child build relationships with peers by creating opportunities.
  • Encourage your child to smile and laugh at their mistakes.

It is important for parents to observe their child with an objective eye. Notice the very things a bully would notice. Does your child walk with their head down? Does your child wear bright green fur socks? Does your daughter run over to you when the rest of the girls go to the break room? Does your son only sit with girls at lunch? Many parents believe that the above examples make their child oh so lovable…. But many of these behaviors are a giant welcome sign to bullies. I am an advocate of individuality and creativity, but be warned that it takes a strong and confident child to pull it off. So either make sure your child can rock those fuzzy green socks and stand up to teasing or leave them in the drawer for weekends!

Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books, CDs and lesson plans designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and  Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. Indigo Dreams: Garden of Wellness CD has coping techniques for children experiencing various forms of bullying. For more information visit  Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and  Facebook .

Thanks to School Days Magazine for posting this article on their site. A great resource for parents and educators.

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    Comments

    36 Comments on “Bully Proof Your Child”

    • Awesome advice~ I am so tired of bullying and it saddens me that this happens to so many kids.

    • Great article. Bullies – a massive subject and one I hope that gets no worse. I agree with everything you said. We should use these tips and bring up strong children who will not put up with malicious attacks. If only we could all join forces and make a stand together.

    • Wonderful article on bullying and how parents can help their children either 1) not get bullied 2) cope if they are bullied and, 3) not BE bullies. I especially appreciated the comments of Izzy Kahlman when she suggested “we are producing a generation of emotional marshmallow-kids who believe they are entitled to a life in which no one upsets them, and can’t tolerate any insult to their mind and bodies.” The latter does little in assisting our children to COPE in the real world. I want to raise my children to not just cope, but cope well – with head and heart intact – if sadly, someone does upset them.

    • This is great information – thanks for the thorough treatment and excellent tips! Your readers may also be interested, to see how this can apply online. There are a variety of articles on cyberbullying, available at:
      http://onlinesocialsavvy.com/?cat=7

      Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • What I’m taking away from reading this post is the discussion around building resilience. I think our school does a pretty good job building community and following through on bullying incidents but we don’t ever get around to “building resilience.” I’ll be mulling this post over for a while. Thanks for sharing.

    • Great post. Bullying has now become another one of the problems our education system in Trinidad and Tobago is dealing with. I have shared this link with our Chief Education officer.

    • Glad I found this article today. Perfect timing, as my twin daughters are both learning to deal with bullying girls in their 2nd grade classes. It’s hard to believe this is starting so early in their school years but I am trying to get them to understand that bullies are not happy with themselves and that they feel the need to be mean to others. I am always tempted to contact their teachers about issues between girls, but your article reinforced the need to let them handle things themselves, and all of the things I can do to try to build them up and make them ready for the day that they themselves may (probably will) become targets. Your website is about to be bookmarked. Thank you!

    • I agree it is a sad issue facing too many children today… one child bullied is one too many.

    • Good point Naomi…We do need to join forces and we need to teach our children that there is strength in numbers..

    • Yes, Izzy takes a bit of heat for his comments..but he tells it like he lives it. His Bullies2Buddies books is one of the best advice books I have read.

    • Thanks Kelley… I really wanted to take the conversation on bullying out of the admins office and into homes…where something can really get done.

    • I am thrilled to know that my article was thought provoking…Thank you for sharing. I love how action oriented you are Gail.

    • Bullying is a worldwide problem. Thank you for bringing this article to your Chief Education Officer.

    • 2nd grade is a big year for exclusion…The kids like to form groups at recess….so important to teach children how to deal with this.

    • @Katie C
      I am glad you find the message here helpful but as a teacher I know I also want and need to hear about the dynamic going on in my room that I don’t always see. Not because I can solve all the problems in the world but because I do need to be aware of the covert actions of my students. It keeps me alert to signs and allows me to coach students with the same language you are using at home.
      It is always okay to tell the responsible adult, be that parent, teacher, or bus driver. We are the students’ allies.

    • Great article, but one question for you: You mention that bullies have average to above-average self-esteem, yet the target of the bullying is very often “exactly the person the bully wishes they could be.” Isn’t wishing you were someone else a sign of low self-esteem in that it implies you are not satisfied with who you currently are? It still seems to me it is a false confidence in bullies (perhaps raised on false praise we’d like parents to avoid?), and friends who are probably afraid that if they’re not friends with the bully, they’ll become the target. How do you see those stats working together?

    • Great post, Lori. Well done and you raise some very good questions for parents!

      Wendy @Kidlutions

    • Thanks Katie, Yes it is helpful to involve the teacher especially when working on social skills. Teachers can help the child to use their new skills. I also had a situation where a child was passing inappropriate notes to my daughter and I alerted the teacher to keep an eye out for it so that the teacher could catch it. Much better when the teacher catches the bully.

    • Good point Al. Jealousy is definitely the opposite of self-value…

    • Thanks Wendy. It’s from the heart.

    • [...] One of the best blogs I have read is from Lori Lite about how to Bully Proof Your Child.  Go to:  http://www.stressfreekids.com/articles/bully-proof-child/ Share [...]

    • Thank you for all the comments. It is wonderful to see a community of moms willing to share and support each other. I am a stay at home working mom… It is difficult to balance it all, so I am grateful for easy tools and tips. Each day of parenting is progress not perfection.

    • My guess is that most folks who wrote comments have never truly been the victim of an aggressive bully. There comes a time when you have to set aside your fears and fight back. How is it that in Colorado the “Make My Day” law allows us to shoot someone who comes on our property to steal an old bike, but we cannot defend ourselves against being beat up by another student without getting into trouble ourselves? A system needs to me in place to criminally prosecute bullies. The most rewarding experience I had in high school was that after being beat on from 7th grade to the end of my Junior year by another student I finally got the guts to fight back. It was on the left stairwell, third step up from the floor. He hit me as he had done many times in the past, this was enough already. This time I fought back, and knocked his ass out on that stairwell, and that was the end of the bullying. Sometimes violence is the answer to violence.

    • Lori,

      You have nailed it in this article. I loved reading every word. I am new to twitter and would like to link up. My new website is under construction.

      Blessings, Nancy Kilgore

    • Lori: Thanks for sharing your article and your advice. Over at my website, I have also posted several articles on the subject including http://www.stress-management-4-women.com/cyberbullying.html. Social networking can also be something that parents have to monitor to make certain that it doesn’t encourage bullying. Love working with you Lori!
      Ann Gatty

    • Thanks Ann. I love how your site puts the focus on women! We have a lot on our plate. Keeping up with our children/teens use of technology and cyberbullying only add to our demands. Thanks for helping women manage stress.

    • Thanks Nancy, We love for others to link to us. Good luck with your new site.

    • This is great I got the Indigo Dreams: Garden of Wellness CD and I also put my kid in KARATE and now he has the self-esteem and confidence to deal with the bullies. My kid was always the victim of bullies day in and day out. Every place he go it was like a bully magnet. But now with the help of KARATE and the CD he never gets bully I am so thank full that I just had to share this with you!!!

    • Thank you so much for sharing this Mark! I thrilled to know that Indigo Dreams was part of your success story.

    • As a parent I think one of the best things, we can do to help prevent bullying is set a good example by teaching our kids on ways to manage and resolve arguments with these bullies without the use of violent, in words or in action. I would like to share this link, about a service on how you can protect your children. You might find it interesting: http://safekidzone.com/

    • Yes Ellena, It is useful to learn how to respond to bullies in a way that doesn’t encourage or incite their behavior. Many experts argue on how to do this. Thanks for sharing your link. It looks like a useful app to have.

    • liked the way you explain “Bully”. It will be a great help for children as well as for parents.
      goog job!!

    • [...] who’s site Stressfreekids.com has a very informative article which she posted Bully Proof Your Child.  It poses questions that parents need to ask themselves in order to determine the best approach [...]

    • [...] http://www.stressfreekids.com/5902/bully-proof-child This entry was posted in About Bullying, Bully Proof, How to stop bullying by East West. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

    • [...] 41. Bully Proof Your Child by Lori Lite at Stress Free Kids. What parents can do to protect children from bullying. Twitter; Facebook Page [...]

    • Bullying is something that grown-ups need to treat very seriously. Rather than leaving it up to a child to sort out, schools, parents and community groups can work together to fight bullying. Bullying can be devastating for children’s confidence and self-esteem. They need lots of love and support, both at home and wherever the bullying is happening. They also need to know that you will take action to prevent any further bullying. I found this great application which featured a safety app which gets me connected to a Safety Network or escalate my call to the nearest 911 when needed, it has other cool features that are helpful for your kids with just a press of a Panic Button. Check it here: http://www.SafeKidZone.com/

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