Dealing with Bullying Mistakes and how to avoid them

Parents make these mistakes while dealing with bullying and end up hurting their child instead of helping.

Helping your child when they are dealing with bullying can be as easy as offering to listen or as difficult as changing schools. Whatever the case may be as Parents we want to avoid these mistakes to help our child deal with bullying.

8 Common mistakes dealing with bullying

1) Avoid excusing the bullying

Sometimes we mean well but it comes out all wrong. Instead of supporting our child we end up shutting them down.

  • Saying things like "It was not that bad..." is minimizing. 
  • Saying things like  "Maybe the bully was just having a bad day" is rationalizing. 
  • Saying things like "You should just avoid the bully" is making it your child's responsibility.  
  • Saying things like " Oh, I know that boys parents they are good people I am sure you mis understood..." Is making excuses for the bully.

Avoid minimizing, rationalizing, shifting responsibility or excusing the bullies behaviour. These types of statements tell your child they are on their own and they will stop telling you about the bullying because they were not heard. This opens the door to further bullying, long term effects and possibly even Bullycide. You can do this right and provide the support and guidance your child needs by actively listening.

2) Don't rush in to fix it

**If your child is in serious physical danger you must take immediate action**

Otherwise, you can guide your child, help them learn the techniques to stand up to a bully and go through a problem solving process to help them find solutions that they can manage. This tells the child you think they are capable and you are there to support them. If you rush in and take over it tells your child you think they are helpless and victimizes them again. It may also confirm for the bully and his supporters that your child is an easy target.

3) Avoiding the Bully is not a solution

Avoiding the bully is not a long term solution that will help when dealing with bullying. It may work short term while you are getting other supports in place. However, there are consequences if your child is ducking and weaving to avoid the bully.

Your child will be thinking about avoiding the bully all day which will eventually effect his school work and his health. 

It also tells the Bully your child is afraid. Bullies will go out of their way to find your child if it meets there needs.

There are many solutions that will improve the situation over the long term.

4) Never confront the bully alone

This goes for you and your child. Training your child to be assertive, use eye contact and posture and tell the bully to stop and walk away is great if there are others around. This assertiveness will only be effective with certain types of bullies and in certain situations. Your child should avoid being alone with the Bully at all times.

On the flip side of that...Parents should never approach another child alone. This may be construed by the Bully and his parents as ...well... bullying. It is always best to confront the bully with the help of a school counselor or other third party.

5) Never confront the bully's parents alone

Listen, that child was not born a bully. They may have learned from their parents. This may not be there first indication that their child is a bully but then again they may be dealing with bullying already. You do not know their side of the story.

The Parents might be in denial or just be wearing blinders..."Oh, no my Johnny,  He is an angel"... Yes, if you call pummelling smaller children and taking their lunch money angelic behaviour. They may decide to make excuses or rationalize everything using standard Bullying Beliefs to excuse the behaviour.

However, as parents we all have our weakness. Again, have a third party to mediate in case the confrontation does not go well and regardless of the parents reaction continue to pursue solutions until the bullying stops.

6) Avoid blaming your child

Many times the target of the bullying gets held responsible. This makes dealing with  bullying much more difficult. While sometimes the bullied child needs to change some behaviours that does not give anyone the right to bully him/her.

Saying things like "If you worked harder at school you would get better grades and they would not call you stupid anymore" 

You can see it is always a good idea to work at achieving but perhaps your child has poor grades because he is in fear of the bully which takes up most of his attention. Creating a cycle...If your child needs to improve his grades this should be a goal you help with and guide him to achieve... irregardless of bullying.

7) avoid making it about you

Sometimes your child will tell you something about their lives ie: bullying and that triggers in us an old memory and causes us to react rather than staying calm and listening to your child you end up on a rant. Stay Calm and listen. Be aware of any memories that might trigger you. If these triggers occur you know you have old hurts that have not healed and you should seek some support for yourself.

8) Avoid over reacting

As per above. Your child needs you to be a source of calm to provide a safe place to listen and understand. Empathize and be supportive when dealing with bullying. However, if you were bullied as a child you may take it personally and have a disproportionate reaction. Crying, yelling, feeling fear and overwhelm are indicators you are over reacting.  Get some help.

Avoiding these common pitfalls is a good start to help your child when dealing with bullying. If you have made these mistakes all is not lost. Go to your child and apologize. You were doing the best you could with what you knew and now you know differently. It may be hard to get them to trust you again but you can start the conversation and let them know you are there for them.

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