I was bullied in school. It’s not something I’m proud of or talk about because I was always afraid that if people found out, they’d see me as an easy target.
Though I wasn’t teased or shoved, I was hit where I was most vulnerable: with the threat of losing a friend. Whenever my so-called best friend wanted something, she’d ask me to do it or else she wouldn’t “friend” me anymore. It got so bad that I was afraid of her and followed anything she said.
Today, I am afraid the same thing might happen to my daughter. If someone even attempts to bully my child, I don’t know what I would do.
What is bullying?
There are so many forms of bullying. But the bottom line is, if your child’s self-esteem is affected and if she is repeatedly harassed by another child, then she is being bullied.
According to Herald Cruz, head of the parenting cluster of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) of the Ateneo de Manila University, bullying is teasing or hurting on a regular basis.
How to spot it
If you have a good relationship with your child, she will come to you for help. A friend told me that in grade school, a few girls tried to make her do something she didn’t want to. So she ran home to tell her mom, who joined the school committee for parents the very next day.
However, if your child doesn’t usually share sensitive topics with you, Cruz suggests observing her behavior. If there is a change, then that’s a red flag. “If normally, your child is always happy and smiling then all of a sudden there is a change, look at that as the possibility of something happening in school,” he says.
Bring in the school
Once you notice that your child may be in trouble, alert the school right away. “The school should address the issue of bullying because they’re the ones who are there and the parents have entrusted their children to them,” Cruz says.
Find out what the school’s policy is on bullying. How have they dealt with similar issues in the past? It is important to communicate with the school and make sure they stay on top of things.
Talk to your child
When your child comes to you about her concerns, listen and do not judge or get angry right away. You might scare her off.
Cruz says it is important to get to the bottom of the situation. “Discuss exactly what’s happening,” he says. Find out what kind of bullying is taking place. “Is it physical, verbal? Is it connected with a form of teasing? Sometimes, children say it’s not bullying but their understanding is limited.”
If you notice that your child is constantly being bullied, ask yourself why your child is attracting this kind of treatment. Cruz says, “You have to see if your child’s self-esteem is very low. Look at the patterns in your child’s behavior.” If you notice that your child’s self-esteem needs work, then Cruz suggests seeking professional help. You must give your child the proper tools to defend herself against other kids who want to take advantage her weaknesses.
Keep your cool
“Most parents aren’t skilled in handling issues like this,” shares Cruz. “They go to the school and make a scene. They have to realize that they have to help the child learn to fight his own battles.”
I totally understand why a parent would wage war against a child who is bullying their kid. However, this wouldn’t work. Another friend of mine found out his daughter was being bullied, so he also signed up for the parent committee and befriended the bullies. He told me that if he scared them, they could have taken it out on his daughter when he wasn’t around. So he was nice and friendly, and the bullies eventually became nice to his daughter.
Another knee-jerk reaction is to confront the parents of the bully. However, Cruz advises against this. “It can create a bigger problem,” he explains. “It’s wise to use the existing structure of the school. If there is a need to talk to the parents, it should be within the authority of the school. Or else the situation will be dirtier.”
Being bullied can be a very painful time in a child’s life, but know that you can be your child’s strongest ally. I hope that if my daughter ever finds herself in this kind of situation, I will remember what to do and she and I will come out of it better, stronger people.
Yahoo! SHE asks: What do you think is the best way to deal with bullies?
For parenting inquiries, contact: The Center for Family Ministries (CeFaM) Spiritual Pastoral Center at the Ateneo de Manila University Campus, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. You may also get in touch with them via telefax: 426-4285 or through their telephone nos. 426-4289 up to 92. E-mail: email@example.com
Olivia Yao has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet.
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