Parental Considerations and Responses to Bullying

Bullying pic

Bullying
Image: verywell.com

Though Herb Tannenbaum, PhD, has built most of his career on relationship counseling for couples, he has also established his expertise in child psychology. Dr. Herb Tannenbaum has served for several years as the director of a children’s day camp and has been invited to offer lectures and lead workshops on various aspects of child development, including the persistent problem of bullying.

Exact statistics can vary because of differing definitions of “bullying” and methods of reporting, but in general, traditional bullying has seen a decrease only to be replaced by cyberbullying. Regardless of its form, however, it’s a critical issue because those targeted by bullies are more likely to engage in violence, bring weapons to school, struggle academically, and experience both physical and mental health issues.

Parental response is a key element in addressing bullying. Helpful actions include informing the child that bullying is not uncommon nor the fault of the child, listening to the child’s concerns without offering judgment or reaction, and building the child’s self-confidence through developing extracurricular skills and talents. Actions a parent should avoid include scolding the child, assigning blame, or encouraging any form of retribution. In the event that it becomes necessary to speak to the parents of the bully, offering analysis or judgment of their child is almost certain to cause offense and exacerbate the situation.

For those who discover their child is the bully in this situation, several common factors need to be considered. Many children who bully others do so because they are subjected to disrespect or disregard at home, acting out in order to gain a sense of power or draw attention. Children who are accustomed to leniency and unused to strict restraints might bully out of a sense of entitlement. In some cases, the child has trouble feeling empathy despite coming from a loving home and active parenting. In any case, it’s important to remember that a bully is still a child in need of guidance.

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Techniques for Parents Whose Child Is Experiencing Bullying

 

Bullying pic

Bullying
Image: parents.com

Serving as the Executive Director of the Center for Effective Living, psychologist Dr. Herbert (“Herb”) Tannenbaum has worked with couples, teenagers, and children. Consequently, Dr. Herb Tannenbaum knows some of the best techniques for managing children who are bullied.

When a child experiences bullying, parents can help by responding strategically and intervening intentionally, but by overreacting, for example, they can also exacerbate the problem. Parents who judge or blame their child for being bullied or for talking about it may further the child’s experience of shame and prevent him or her from asking for help in the future. Calling for retribution or lashing out at the parents of the bullying child can also worsen the cycle of bullying.

Listening with empathy and soothing a bullied child, on the other hand, teaches him or her that it’s okay to ask for help and talk about his or her experiences. It may also help the child to know that bullying can happen to anyone and that he or she is not being targeted on account of some shortcoming or something of that nature. Brainstorming solutions with the child can engender a sense of empowerment, and focusing attention on cultivating the skills from which he or she derives pleasure can boost self-esteem and expand social networks.

Responding to bullying in this way can help a child manage the situation and feel supported and empowered by parents rather than further ashamed or afraid. These techniques may help him or her come through this unfortunately common situation in a healthy way.