by Gerry Garcia
Assertive Parenting – Coach, Behavioral Specialist
What is Bullying? Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and treasured possessions.
This week, a distraught mother, Suzie, came into my parent coaching class in Bakersfield California to report that the high school grades of her son, Derek had been gradually dropping due to being bullied for the past several months. She expressed a great deal of shock because she didn’t know it was happening. As Suzie described Derek’s situation, it was quite obvious that she felt guilty for being unaware for a few months of how hurt he had been. “I didn’t even know that he was getting teased and picked on by these kids. I also couldn’t figure out why he was suddenly being so mean with his younger siblings.”
Once I helped Suzie to finally understand that bullying derives most of its power out of secrecy, she realized that if she would begin listening to Derek more, he would begin to share more of his feelings. I asked her to use an acknowledgement strategy which praised him every time he spoke the truth about his bully behaviors. Within one week, the mother came back into the class with a big smile on her face. I asked what was working in her home. She stated “Derek is sharing openly about his school happenings and no longer hurting his younger siblings. He is actually apologizing about his mean behaviors towards his brothers.” I expressed to Suzie and the rest of the class that if they used these seven easy steps that I am about to share with you, just like Suzie and Derek’s family, they too can apply these steps to help their child go from victim to victor.
In just 1 week, 1 mother used these steps and permanently stopped the bullying in her son’s life. This could be your story. Here’s how:
• Become a Sherlock Holmes – Start the investigative process: The solution for noticing bullying is for the parent to observe a noticeable change in behavior, such as dropping of grades and bullying behaviors in the home. Keep your eyes open for abrupt behavioral issues with your child that seems to come out of nowhere.
• During this investigative process, the parent needs to be understanding and affirming. “I really understand how you had to be brave when they were picking on you.”
• Identify the Problem – During this investigative process, the parent needs to identify the problem with open ended questions similar to these: “Can you tell mom or dad who the kids are?” “Can you tell me more how they hurt you?”
• Learn to listen – You must develop a new set of listening skills that would encourage your child to share his/her feelings. In the sharing of his/her feelings, the bully mistreatment can come out of your child.
• Expose the Bully – When you expose a bully, you take away their power to intimidate. Bullying is usually done secretly while adults are not looking. Your child has not yet developed a set of coping skills that would expose the bully. So here’s where you come in. Talk with your child to help them think through how much bullying is not only affecting them but is affecting the people around them. Teach your child to go to an adult when they’re being bullied.
• Stand Up for your Child – The parent must become a stronger advocate for the child. An example would be a parent that sets up a meeting with a teacher or counselor at the school and addresses the problem with those in authority. The parent can request a meeting with the bully and the bully’s parents. This gives a clear demonstration to the child of how to stand up for his/her self.
• Teach an Alternative Response – The parent needs to give the child a totally new and different response to the bullies. The child also needs to practice an alternative response to his younger siblings that he has bullied. The parents are describing and role modeling a new response with him until he masters this behavior automatically. The parent can coach the child with such phrases as: “I can show you how to walk away from those kids when they begin to bully you.” “Let me show you how to be humorous when they begin to pick on you.” “Let me show you how to defend yourself.”
• Affirm your Child to Become a Protector – The parent must consistently give the child new Affirmations such as: “I know you love your little sister or brother.” “I know you can protect them from kids that would mistreat them.” “I really understand how you had to be brave when they were picking on you.”
In Summary, all bullying behavior can be reduced by very effective interventions.
Please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org – 661-332-9204