What makes a child a likely target for bullying? As we know, the main characteristic a bully seeks for in a victim is vulnerability, that is the likeliness that the bully can hurt this child without a retributory hurtful action from this child.
If your child is a victim of bullying, it is helpful to determine what makes him or her seem vulnerable so that you can think of a way of changing what can be changed regarding that specific quality.
How can my child stop being perceived as vulnerable? In terms of what others perceive of a person, body language is a key element, so help your child have an assertive body language by looking confident.
This can be achieved through:
* Posture by standing tall with shoulders back and holding arms an legs in a relaxed
and confident way.
* Facial expression, by hiding scared looks, as well as upset and/or angry feelings.
Keeping a cool expression.
* Looking at people when they talk, especially the bully
* Answering back assertively, using “I” statements with a firm and strong voice,
always being respectful and showing strength.
* Leaving for safety, walking in a confident way towards someone that can help.
What is the best way to approach my child? To have a conversation with your child you must generate empathy, take your child’s words seriously paying attention and really understanding what he or she is saying, please don’t get to conversation-ending statements like “there’s nothing to be afraid of” or “it will go away”.
Remember, bullied children have many reasons for not telling, so you might need to help your child express his or her situation through questions.
Make sure that your child is being bullied and not just bothered in a non-recurring way. You can achieve this also through questions, getting facts about each event. Take notes about those facts, they will be helpful in determining how to approach the situation.
Having had a thorough conversation in which you both understand the situation, you and your child should develop a plan of action in which you both agree. Please do not act without your child’s agreement, your child’s opinion is extremely important.
Remember to be supportive all along, helping your child stay safe through plans and strategies that work.
Specific recommendations are found in the Caregiver Instructions Manual of our Bullying programs.