Bullies have many shapes. Children can be bullied by another relative, another child or even another adult.
When Boo was 8 or 9, she was pushed around by another child at AWANA (church kids’ club) of all places!! Fortunately, Boo had taken taekwondo and used a defensive move to stop the bully, who never bothered Boo again.
As we all know, there is an unwritten “code” in elementary school that telling a teacher is “tattling” and tattletales are usually ostracized by the other kids. So what is the best way to deal with bullying? That depends on the type, but here are some suggestions that have worked for our family:
Make sure your child does not walk places alone
If he or she is old enough to not need an adult with them, make sure they always have a friend or two. Bullies rarely target a group (although I have seen a group of bullies chase a group of kids, but that’s another story.)Teach your child to treat the bully as an equal not a better. Your child should always look the bully in the eye and speak in a calm, even tone. Practice with them if possible since this is hard even if you are an adult in a difficult situation.
Consider self-defense classes
Taekwondo and other martial arts classes for kids teach children to only use the moves they have learned in self-defense, never as the aggressor. I have heard multiple senseis tell their students if they ever used their moves as the aggressor they would be kicked out of the class. That being said, sometimes when a child is backed up against the wall all they can do is fight back and self-defense will teach them how to defuse the situation with out harming the bully.
Encourage your child to tell you whenever they are being bullied
There is only so much a child can do to protect themselves from being bullied. It is up to us, as their parents and guardians, to advocate on their behalf. If the teacher won’t listen to you, go to the principal. If the principal won’t listen, go to the school board. If necessary, go to the police. Let your child know that you take his or her concerns and safety seriously.
Document every incident
Each time you approach the school, don’t just mention the current incident, but all previous incidents as well. If a police report is warranted, make it, and be sure to include all bullying incidents every time you report. This establishes a pattern of abuse which can be very important if you need to get a restraining order.
If an adult is the bully
go over that person’s head as soon as possible, to their supervisor or the police if necessary.
Consider a support group
or someone for your child to talk to (a minister, therapist, etc.) to express their feelings of fear and anger if they are not comfortable discussing the situation with you.