In her book Queen Bees and Wannabes, Rosalind Wiseman looks at the cliques, gossip, and new realities of being a teenage girl in today’s society. “What I say to young people is you’re going to have conflicts with people and there are going to be times when people abuse their power. Part of growing is navigating that and how to handle it,” says Wiseman. “Bullying is a repeated power. It attacks a kid’s essence.”
Bullying is a common issue that can happen to anyone—popular or not. So parents should learn how to deal with bullying and remember that each situation may be addressed differently. “Sometimes you’re going to want to handle it on your own and other times you’re going to need an adult to be involved. The reason I’m saying this is at times parents are involved way too much. If you rush in and get involved you’re not empowering your child to go through the messy experience because if you go in there and freak out, your child is way less likely to go to their parents again,” says Wiseman. She encourages parents to explain to their children that these things might happen and, as they get older, conflicts might happen more frequently. Sometimes children perceive hurt feelings and being excluded as bullying, however, it’s not. Oftentimes, children are overly sensitive and can take things out of proportion. It’s important to be aware and educated of the difference.
Wiseman believes parents should encourage their children to think of the things that could happen and how to handle them. Take the time to talk through potential scenarios and provide feedback they may need. Also, it’s equally as important to thank your child for coming to you. Being appreciative of the communication lines that your child opens is a key element to a healthy parent and child relationship.
Most parents want definitive warning signs that alert them of potential bullying situations—whether their child is being bullied or is doing the bullying. Since each child is different, a parent will have to be proactive and be involved in their child’s life. “It’s hard to have simple answers to these things because your child has such different social dynamics with [other children]. I have one kid who is very much a social butterfly and one that’s not,” says Wiseman. “A child that is very social tends to have different social context and it will look differently opposed to children who only have one or two friends. The bullying oftentimes comes from the clique. It can be present in places most parents don’t think about, like texting and Snapchat.”
Bullying is often a big part of school cliques and so can be hard to avoid. And that’s one of the biggest misconceptions among parents—thinking some school programs will never have a bullying problem. “Every group of people has the capacity to lift your child up and take your child down. There’s no immunity of keeping your child from nasty cliquey stuff that happens for girls and boys. Coaches talk in sound bites and are not the solution,” says Wiseman.
Being proactive is key! Bullying should be discussed on an ongoing basis—it is not a one-time conversation. “It’s going to be messy, annoying, and our kids are going to fight us every step of the way and that’s okay,” says Wiseman. Giving our children the tools to handle life will help them to build independence and confidence that will carry them toward a bright future.
Has your child had trouble with bullying at school? Tell us how you have addressed it in the comments section.
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To help in the fight against bullying, join with us for our 31 Simple Acts of Kindness challenge. Print out our calendar and then use #SimpleActsK12 to share pictures and stories of you and your students doing these daily Simple Acts. Together, we can use kindness to #SayNoToBullying![/schedule]