Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dealing with Bullies

Bigger, meaner kids who pick on littler nicer kids are all too common today, as they have been in the past. Make it clear to your kids that they never have to put up with physical abuse. If they’re slapped, pinched, or pushed around in any way, they must tell either you or their teachers, and then it’s up to the adults to take care of the situation. (You might want to consider one of those martial-arts training programs that are so popular with children in first grade or older. The good ones emphasize selfdefense as opposed to aggressive behavior, and they tend to develop self-confidence.) Let your child know why bullies act the way they do. The main points you want to make are
  • Bullies use threats and force to try to control people by making them afraid. It is the only way they have of gaining acceptance or status.
  • Bullies have no real friends.
  • No matter what they say or do, their behavior is a reflection of their problems, not yours.
  • Don’t try to please or placate the bully or his clique. This is not the kind of group you want to be accepted by. Find others at school who feel the same way; they are the people you want for friends.
While we’re on the subject of bullies, also let your children know that they do not have to share their lunch if they don’t want to. Your child should simply say no, and if someone tries to get it from him or her by threats or force, the child should tell both you and his or her teacher.
Last, it is not abusive, but instead considered part of the school tradition, for older students to treat younger students as second-class citizens. For example, sixth and seventh graders may confine fifth graders to a certain part of the cafeteria or playground. Your child should accept this practice as cheerfully as possible and wait until she becomes a sixth grader. It’s not just older students entirely, but tradition.

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