You got this!
September is here! The kids are all back in school, have settled down to their daily routines, and parents can take a break from trying to occupy their time with Summer activities. Yet with school, comes all kinds of challenges for the little ones and sometimes also for the parents. The children are once again immersed in the school’s social environment where they learn how to interact with one another, and they are facing all kinds of situations among peers that they need to resolve. That’s when sometimes unfortunate incidents like discrimination or bullying happen. As parents, it is hard not to feel protective of our little ones when we learn that they are facing bullies at school.
We are here for you
I remember when one of our daughters was in grade school, she came home one day and told me that for over a month her classmate was being mean to her and asking other friends to gang up against her. Although my first instinct was to contact the school or even reach out to the parent of the bully, through personal experience, while growing up, I know it is important for my little girl to learn to deal with this situation by herself and I would only step in when absolutely necessary. When we were young, if we were going through some rough patches with school friends, we could take a break from the stress when we got home from school. But kids of this generation are prone to both online and in-person social atrocities - the bullying continues online, after school. It can haunt them through text messages and social media, subjecting them to a constant bombardment of cruel comments and snide remarks. There are a few things parents can do to help their kids navigate through this challenge, but I find it most important to give our kids the mental support they need. Family is always going to be the refuge they can escape to when things get tough.
Be smart about it
I think for kids to effectively handle bullies at school, it is important that they understand the probable causes of this toxic behavior. Could the bully be acting out frustrations that were caused by an unhappy home life or lashing out due to a psychological complex of some sort? Actually, encouraging a sense of empathy in our children towards others might help them handle these negative experiences better. It is also handy to “arm” our little ones with a couple of clever comebacks to fight off those nasty comments and end the exchange right there and then. A well-worded (but civilized) reply can catch the bully speechless and get your kid out of the situation.
You are not alone
I can imagine that a child might be reluctant to connect with new friends after having been a victim of bullying. They might have lost confidence in themselves or in others. Yet we need to encourage them to get to know new friends because childhood friendships are so important for the kids in every way from developing social skills to lowering the likelihood of depression. When my daughter was suffering from her ordeal at school, apart from getting pep talks from us, it was most fortunate that she had the mental support of her best friend. She knew that someone her age knew exactly what she was going through, even though they did not go to the same school. And she would reciprocate this support when her friend experienced friendship issues in her school sometime later.
We might not be able to be physically by their side to help them navigate the social challenges at school but giving them mental stability from home and support from their friends can help them overcome any situation like a champ!