I have to assume that you are reading this because you are in the painful situation of having your child rejected, ostracized, and/or bullied. You are looking for ways to deal with bullies who have made life difficult. While both of you are hurting and may feel alone, you are not. The world is filled with individuals and families in your situation. My goal is to help you get out of that situation and successfully turn your story from one of victim to one of victor.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is behavior that seeks to harm another person(s) through an imbalance of power. It may or may not entail physical violence. It is generally practiced over a period of time with the person being bullied feeling weaker and more helpless as time progresses.
While there is an overlap in terms, it is helpful to differentiate between rejection, ostracization, and bullying.
Steps to Take if Your Child Is Bullied or Ostracized
1.Find out what is happening?
The first step is to find out what is happening. It may come as a surprise but children don't usually rush home and tell us at the start.
Why don't they tell? There's a number of reasons:
- They are embarrassed. Like a bad report card, no one is that eager share that they are ih a weak position.
- They may not have the vocabulary to explain it. They may not know the word "ostracization" or understand that "bullying" includes making someone share test answers.
- They have been threatened with retaliation. The bully may appear so strong to them that they are unbeatable.
- They are afraid of what you will do. They may think you will blame them or be disappointed in them. They may be afraid you will show up on the scene and embarrass them.
So, a little detective work is in order. What happened? When did it start? Who started it? Is anything else like it happening in any other area of their life (neighborhood, clubs, family)
One time when one of my children was afraid what would happen if he told me, I promised not to tell anyone until he told me it was okay. Under the circumstances, it was hard to keep that promise, but I did. However, it was important to make that promise because I needed to find out what was happening before the next step could be taken.
2. Consider Physical and Emotional Safety
Before anything else, you need to assure their physical safety. In these days of drugs, weapons, and gangs; this is no insigificant matter. Thankfully, most situations do not involved physical harm, but your first step is to make sure there is no danger.
Emotional safety is also important. The whole purpose of education, extra-curricular activities, neighborhood and family is counterproductive when a member is threatened emotionally. It may not require as urgent of action as physical danger, but action is required.
3. Identify If Something is Causing Your Child to Be Singled Out
It is important that we do not blame them
if they are the victim of bullying or ostracization. However, there may be things they are doing that are causing or contributing to the problem.
Why is MY child shunned
looks at some of the common reasons children are singled out. Some have simple changes that can be made and some may be unchangeable. This step can be helpful in understanding why the behavior is occuring, and in developing your long-term plan of action.
4. Informing Authorities
More often than not, children and adults who are bullied are afraid to tell. In fact, as a parent, you may be intimidated to talk about it. And sometimes, the fear of retaliation is not unfounded.
Here are specific things to consider before you report bullying to the authorities.
Consider how and when to talk to group leaders, teachers, parents of the kids and others who may be in positions of authority.
5. Teach Your Child Strategies To Deal with Bullies
You can't be with them all the time. But you can
teach them these six strageis to deal with bullies
. Adapt and practice these steps to meet the needs of your child's situation.
- Ignore Rude Behavior
- Diffuse with Explanations/Humor (certain situations)
- Identify Behavior to Be Stopped
- Loudly Set Limits and Boundaries
- Retort to Insults (kids like this one)
- Tell someone in authority if it doesn't stop with these strategies
6. Strategies for Dealing with Ostracization
There are similar strategies for dealing with ostracization and dealing with bullying. I will deal with them separately, but they do in fact over-lap, just as ostracization and bullying overlap. But ostracization can be more difficult to deal with because the behavior is not as overt. Dealing with ostracization by emotional bullies
7. Removing Your Child From the Situation
Ultimately, when all is said in done there are only three major steps to your plan:
- The child tells the bully to stop
- The bullying is reported and the authority-figure tells the bully to stop
- The child is removed from the situation
Ideally, it is best if the first occurs. If that is not successful we move to the second option, reporting the behavior and having the authorities stop it. The only option if #2 is unsuccessful is to remove the child.
Leo was in public school where he was happy and had many friends until fourth grade. Many of the kids starting picking on him and making him the focus of cruel jokes. When the teacher was informed, she called the offenders aside and they apologized and the behavior stopped. Nonetheless, Leo was left without friends and spent lunch time and recess alone. His mother gave him the option of staying in the public school, going to a nearby private school, or homeschooling. Leo chose to stay in the public school until the end of the year and then switch schools. Knowing that he had an option and could leave if he chose, helped him manage the isolation and set his own goals for the next year.
Should I Homeschool My Child
Parents often consider pulling their child out of school and homeschooling when they are ostracized and bullied. Should I homeschool my child who is being bullied?
Step 8: Healng and Rebuilding
After ending the bullying, your child needs time for healing and rebuilding confidence.
Some kids bounce out of it, others need time and nurturing.
Bullying Outside of the Classroom
We often associate bullying with the classroom. This is for a couple of reasons:
- The larger number of kids in a school makes it more likely there is a bully in the midst of them
- The low adult to child ratio makes it harder for the bullying to be discovered and ended
- The number of hours kids are in school makes it more likely to occur, more difficult for the child to escape, and harder to endure
- Compulsory attendance makes it difficult for families to extricate their children from bullying
- 30 hours a week for thirteen years of peer domination lends itself to the development of a pecking order
The stereotype of a bully is a male bully on the playground in grade school or a female secondary student who leads others to shun another girl at a time when belonging is so important.
These stereotypes exist for a reason: they are the most common form of bullying. These, however, are NOT the only type or location where such behavior occurs.
Clubs and Extracurricular Activities
Often, the child who is bullied at school may find that the rejection spreads to other community activities. Generally these activities are easier for the child to quit. The end result may be that little by little (or all at once) the child withdraws from all outside activities. This reinforces their isolation and loneliness.
The child bullied at school or in clubs may find the same unchristian treatment when he or she goes to church or Sunday school. Same kids: same behavior. Since church is often a family activity, it may be harder for the child to escape from these peers than from other community activities.
Unfortunately, in addition to the carry-over affect that exists elsewhere in the community, some churches have their own insidious form of bullying. Kids and entire families may be subject to the adult bullies in the congregation that never out grew their drive for power and end up exerting control over one group or the entire church. This is a major reason for shifting attendance from one church to another. Even pastors and leaders are subject to such bullying: it is, in fact, a common reason for ministers to transfer to another church. Such negative control certainly makes it harder for a child
to cope with the negative socialization in such churches.
Neighborhoods and Families
Even when there are no official rules and structure, bullying can exist. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between the common arguments that occur between children and real bullying.
Bullying always involves an inbalance of power. If kids squabble because they can't get along and one child is temporarily left out, that is not bullying. However, it that child is always
the one who loses and is in fear of the other(s), a bullying situation has probably developed.
If your child is bullied outside of the classroom, use the same six steps outlined above to help him/her solve the situation. If it can't be solved, consider removing them.