Bully Prevention: What Is a Parent To Do When a Child Does Not Stand Up For Themselves?

When your child comes home from school everyday with a story about being picked on by someone on the bus, in the classroom, on the playground it is very upsetting.  Many times we see parents who have raised these very mild mannered, sweet children who have no desire or what seems to no ability to mean to others and would rather just let these things go.  As a parent though we know that they must learn to stand up for themselves.

What do we mean by “stand up for themselves”?  When a child is “teased, chided, or picked on”, there is a little piece of them inside that is damaged, even if it is not readily visible.  This damage may very well stick with them for a very long time – well into adulthood.  For them it is important to learn to speak up and let the other person know that what they are saying or doing is not acceptable to the target.   As a parent we know that and we may even tell our child “Stand up for yourself.”

In fact as parents, we may become frustrated with our child for being unwilling to do just that.  We may tell our child do what you need to do to stand up to them, I will not be upset with you no matter what.  In effect we are saying if you need to hit them I am giving you permission to do so – because we want to see them make a stand.

Please consider the following though in regard to our mild mannered, sweet child.  If they are coming home to you and are willing to speak to you about what is going on at school and tell you how they feel about it – you are a very fortunate parent.  The problem is that if the child begins to feel your frustration with his/her unwillingness or inability to stand up for themselves, they may become unwilling to share these experiences with you, not wanting to disappoint you in any way.

What is a parent to do?

When they tell you what is going on – LISTEN without judgement.  ASK them how they handled it.  Ask them if they think there may be other ways of dealing with this situation.  Continue the conversation and see if the child can come up with more than one way they may deal with the teasing or other activity.  Once you have several options (that the child has come up with) ask them which one they would like to try.  Now is the time for you and your child to role play using the option they have come up with.  Role play, role play, role play.  Continue to do this, giving them feedback or demonstrating yourself, till you see them doing what they came up with confidence.  Debrief them the next day and continue to work on the same or new options as needed allowing your child to be in control of choosing the options.

The key to this is not losing the communication with your child.  Losing their trust and communication leads to very serious problems and issues.  Let them see you as an ally, while allowing them to make their own choices and teaching them how to implement their choice.

One Reply to “Bully Prevention: What Is a Parent To Do When a Child Does Not Stand Up For Themselves?”

  1. I respect the fact that you are helping to bring awareness to parents about the dangers of bullying. I currently blog for blogaboutbullies.com and have been trying to educate parents about certain programs that are available to help protect children in the cyber world. Personally I use a free service called Mousemail, but there are many that parents that are not techonologically savvy. Blogs like yours will help spread awareness to a threat that many parent are unaware of.

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