As children transition from school to summer camp, this is an ideal time to address any bullying your children are experiencing. Children who are bullied do not always want to tell their parents, because they do not want to snitch, and they do not want their parents to feel worried and burdened. Children often prefer to handle problems by themselves without the interference and opinion of their parents. If your child is faced with a bully, it is very important that you empower them to handle the problem with guidance and support from you, the parent.
In my book The Empowered Child: How to Help Children Cope, Communicate and Conquer Bullying, we utilize the Three E’s: Empathy, Empowerment and Engagement.
The Three E’s can be helpful for all types of bullying: physical, verbal, cyber and relational.
Children need to be empathized with how they are feeling when being bullied. Parents can ask children open-ended questions about how they are feeling to get children to open up about their feelings. It is important to ASK the question and not tell the child how the parent thinks they may be feeling. In making an effort to understand and reflect on your child’s experience and repeating this back, parents are exhibiting empathy. This line of interaction helps begin the deeper conversation about the specific bullying that is occurring.
Children require your guidance and support to feel empowered to deal with the bully. You can ask your child how they want to respond to being bullied. It is important to empower the child to come up with the plan (with your guidance) that makes them comfortable given the specific dynamics of their situation. Parents can reassure the child that they have control, they are not alone and they can address any struggle. Consider role-playing responses between the bully and the victim to help your child get comfortable to address the bully. If children opt to ignore the bully, walk away, find a new friend group or engage in different activities, support your child to make this choice easier to take. By empowering your child to take control, you are ensuring them that you are there to help and support them but will not take over the process.
When children face a bully, it is important to follow-up the plan by engaging with them to discuss what actual steps your child took and if and how your child resolved the bullying. Every few days check in with your child to determine if the bullying has stopped. It may take time before you see a decrease in the bullying. If the bullying continues, then practice more role-playing and fine-tune their tactics. Ask open ended questions to asses if your child truly FEELS better.
If as a parent you choose to approach your camp or school, please proceed with a positive tone of collaboration. Before reaching out, educate yourself on the camp/school bullying policy so you have a conversation starting point. Explain to the principal or camp director that you wish to work together so that your child is not put in a position to be re- victimized by the bully. Establishing your safety-oriented intention first, positions you to discuss specific proactive steps the camp/school will take to protect and empower your child.
Overall, when your child is being bullied, a parent’s support and guidance make the most crucial difference in how effectively your child addresses the bully. Ensure your child that you are always by their side to put an end to the bullying. And if you and/or your child need further support, please contact me for a complementary conversation so we can restore well-being for your family!
ABOUT DANIELLE MATTHEW–
Danielle Matthew is a local LMFT who treats bully victims and their families with The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program. Author of Amazon Best-Seller, The Empowered Child, Danielle educates and consults about the bullying epidemic.
Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on FOX, ABC and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio.