It appears that bullying has become an epidemic lately. It is not uncommon to turn on the news and hear about another incident in which a child has turned to suicide due to bullying. Although it may seem that this is a new phenomenon, it is not. Figures differ from study to study, from country to country, and from school to school; but anywhere from 20-30 percent of children are involved in bullying, either as bullies or as victims.
The American Psychological Association defines bullying as a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. These aggressive behaviors can be direct, occurring in the presence of the victim, or indirect, through the spreading of rumors. Bullying can be seen as physical, verbal, relational, and as damage to property. It can happen in a number of places, such as school, home, public locations, online, or through a cellphone.
As parents, we can help reduce the risk that our children will become involved in this hurtful behavior either as bullies or as victims by:
- Teaching children about empathy. Parents need to listen empathically to children in order for them to know that they will be heard and that their feelings are important. Empathic listening also helps children mature emotionally through learning to correctly repair moments of anger and misunderstanding. This teaches them that the needs and feelings of others are also important.
- Teaching children the importance of helping others. This teaches children that they have something to offer, and allows them to experience what it feels like to be appreciated by others.
- Teaching children how to solve problems through dialogue and compromise. Through dialogue, children learn mutual understanding and are able to reach creative solutions instead of becoming defensive and ending up with a more aggressive problem.
- Teaching children about forgiveness. Children are more likely to be caring, empathic, helpful, and forgiving toward others if they observe this behavior from parents.
If you find your child struggling with abuse from a bully or behaving like a bully himself, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.
Bullying. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/
Facts About Bullying. Retrieved from http://www.stopbullying.gov/news/media/facts/#listing