I was bullied as a child, which makes me pretty sensitive to anything that my kids say that may be hinting at them being subject to the same. We’ve been lucky – so far – that all they’ve suffered is the usual kid stuff. Feeling left out, someone poking fun, etc. Not fun for them at all, but nothing that would be considered bullying, be it emotional or physical.
A few years ago, my middle son said that some boys he played soccer on the playground with were being a little bit too rough. One kid would trip the others, and another kid would bump shoulders a little rougher than necessary. The boys weren’t listening to the other kids when they asked them to stop, and my son was getting to the point where they didn’t want to play anymore. It was time to intervene.
Here’s what to do when your child is being bullied, or subject to kids who don’t understand fair play, or has another conflict with someone.
1. Talk to their teacher. The teachers are the ones who spend many hours a day with your kids and can give you some insight as to what they see. In my son’s instance, she told me that the boys in question were known for being “rougher” and that she’d talked to them about it a few times. She then talked with them again.
2. Talk to the other parents. My eldest son told me about a kid who was saying mean things and shoving him when he walked by. I knew the parents, and sent them a (non-accusatory) email, in which I said what my so had told me but that I was fully aware that it was likely not the full story. We then chatted on the phone, worked through it, and the conflict ended.
3. Talk to the principal. They are charged with overseeing the school and the friends I have who hold that position take it seriously. I often cc the principal in emails of important matters, be it conflicts or others, because they should be in the know.
4. Keep talking to your kids. Communicate with them what you are doing, so they know that you’re doing everything you can to help them.
5. Sometime there’s no answer. There are mean kids in the world, period. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done to resolve conflict, because they don’t want resolution. I’ve explained to my kids that there are some people in the world who have a lot of hurt in their lives and are broken. They may not know how to process it, and might take it out on them — and everyone. I’ve taught them that those issues have nothing to do with them, but with the bully.
Have you dealt with bullying? How did you get through it?