27 September 2013

Bullying, Providing Support for your Child

Bullying isn’t something new, it has always been around. Instead of nasty texts when I was in school, it was notes passed around in class. However, what makes bullying in the 21st century so different, is that those notes wouldn’t follow me home, or I wouldn’t be sent new ones at home. Today, texts, messages, tweets, and posts follow where ever one goes. Our children are so connected with their friends and peers that they seem to be always communicating, even when home from school.

Now, I am not saying throw out the cell-phone, delete Facebook and Twitter accounts. It just seems that we as parents, when we hear that our child is being bullied at school, we tend to have a knee-jerk reaction. That is we go into the “rescue our child from harm” model; and we contact the school principal, the teachers, and sometimes even other parents. We want to see, and take action to protect our children or teenager from further danger.

What’s even more unfortunate is that sometimes we don’t hear about bullying until damage has been done. Typically what is happening is that we are not there when our children are ready to talk about bullying, we expect to hear about it during the scheduled after school drilling: “What did you do today?” “What did you learn today?” “Who were you with?” But often teenagers and children are still decompressing what happened at school and are not ready to talk about it.

Plus, I have often heard that teens don’t want their parents to put on the suit and cape and protect them, they want to be heard, listened to and loved. So here are some ways for parents to provide opportunities for their child to be heard, listened and loved:

  • Try to have a meal together. It has always been popular to say have dinner together, but having breakfast together as a family is better than not having any meal together.
  • Take time each day to listen to your child when they are ready to talk. If you are busy when they are ready and you can’t drop everything to listen, schedule or setup a time with them immediately afterward to chat.
  • Let your child know that you love them, in their love language. Some children like to be hugged, others told that they are loved, while others want to do things with their parents.
  • Understand their world. Don’t control their world of social media, but learn why social media is important to them so you can journey with them through the internet.
  • Be involved in the bedtime routine, in an age appropriate way. A lot of open and vulnerable conversations can happen at night.

But remember most of all; be there for your children. When they need a shoulder to cry on, be there. When they need someone to talk to, listen. When they need to yell about life, hear them. When they need to know that they are loved, let them know.