Adolescents

How to Deal with Bullying and Teasing

  • If you learn that someone is being bullied or teased, do something to help. Talk to the teacher, principle, teacher aid, yard duty teacher, etc.
  • If you are concerned that someone may be experiencing bullying talk it over with a teacher.
  • Work with teachers to make school a safer happier place, volunteer class room or playground time, offer to read the children a book about teasing, help children complete hypothetical situation stories.
  • If the school is unresponsive, don’t give up. Look up other resources, find library books, internet information, peer conflict resolution programs, etc.
  • Give your support and understanding (not rage, retaliation and victim-hood) to anyone in your home experiencing being bullied. Listen without judging (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Faber & Mazlish) give verbal and physical support.
  • Do everything you can to help children value themselves. Have them tell you things they are proud of at the end of the day, praise them.  Give 5 compliments to every directive.  Let them overhear you praising them to others.  Model expressions of being proud of oneself.
  • As an adult, if you witness bullying give attention to the victim not the bully.
  • If you are a teacher intervene. Children believe teasing and taunting are okay if teachers ignore it.
  • Tell children if they see teasing or bullying happening to tell a teacher or a parent.
  • Tell children who are being bullied that it is not their fault.
  • Let a child who is being bullied know that he/she is not alone and that you believe them and will support them.
  • Rather than responding with, “you should…” or “just ignore…” ask the child for his/her ideas.  Ask what action he/she would like to take.  Let the child express feelings and wants.
  • Label inappropriate or belittling behavior when you see it. “That is a put down, and we don’t accept put down here.”  Do not address bullying with physical punishment.  Bullies already feel very bad about themselves and have shame and low self esteem.
  • Don’t model humiliation, belittlement, getting what you want through force, or shaming. Model stating directly without judgement, whining or making others wrong.
  • “Failure by a school to implement an effective, active anti-bullying policy is a breach of duty of care” UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line.
  • Educate children as to what bullying is. Verbal, emotional, psychological, and physical. And let them know it is always unacceptable.
  • Stop bullying and teasing right away. “Nip it in the bud”, don’t wait until the victim exhibits significant discomfort.
  • Help bullies learn more appropriate ways of interacting while keeping them supervised.
  • Teach all children how to be assertive, problem solve and express themselves appropriately.
  • Teach children how to spot bullying, how to intercede and report inappropriate behavior.
  • Encourage children to help both the target and the bully.
  • Bullies come from all socioeconomic classes. Almost always, however, bullies come from dysfunctional aggressive home environments where they learn by example.
  • The “reason” a child is picked on is irrelevant. They are excuses set up by the bully and those trying to justify abusive behaviors, envy is a strong motivator for bullies.
  • Severe incidences or chronic subjection to bullying can lead to symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including anxiety, anger, reactive depression, tearfulness, disbelief, panic attacks, fatigue, low energy, hypervigilance, sleep disorders, headaches, stomach aches, joint and muscle pain, excessive guilt, loss of self-esteem and self confidence, suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  • Addressing bullying needs to be multifaceted including educating children, parents, teachers and those supervising children’s activities. Outlining what is abusive behavior, letting victims know what they can do.  Teaching Bullies assertion techniques and self-esteem building.  Increased supervision and appropriate modeling at home and at school.  Keep the adults supervising your children aware of your observations and concerns.

 

© 2008, Dr. Lois Nightingale, PSY9503 Psychologist 714-993-5343