The simple statement to a child of “You are weird” cannot only hurt feelings but also self esteem. True, many girls use verbal jabs to bully and ostracize certain girls in the class. Bullying doesn’t have to be hurting another child or taking lunch money, it can also be verbal assaults about the child’s differences. How do teachers and parents put a stop to this and teach the child how to handle this verbal bullying?
How to prevent bullying in the classroom:
From the start, teachers and administrators need to have firm rules in place so all children know what to expect in terms of behavior. Respecting everyone, teachers and other children, is a good place to start. Send out hand-outs on bullying prevention and behavior expectations. Have a do-tell stance on any type of bullying or disrespect. It is true that teachers can’t be everywhere at all times, overseeing if children are on their best behavior, but other kids can bring bullying to the teacher’s attention right away before it gets out of hand. There should be no tattle-telling punishment as teachers need to know if bullying is taking place. A suggestion box can be placed in each hallway outside of classrooms so children can secretly call out the bullying offenders anonymously. No three strikes and you are out type of punishment system either…bullying is a one strike offense and you are severely punished with mandatory counseling will nip the problem in the bud quickly.
Also every classroom should discuss differences and how this makes the world a more interesting place. Have material on how people in different parts of the world dress, behave, and look. Discuss how those differences make the people unique and interesting…not weird. An open dialogue when a child has a difference such as a limp or a lisp will make the child more accessible and less weird to the other children in class.
How to talk to children who are bullied:
Children who are assaulted verbally for their differences and bullied routinely will have issues with low self esteem and depression over time. Once this starts, more children will ostracize them. So have discussions with the child over how they are unique and how they are not unique. Sure Sammy has a scar but he also plays softball well as the other boys in class. Discuss what makes adults in the child’s life “weird”. Maybe Aunt Sally has six toes or his mother has a fear of swimming. If you look closely, we all have differences that make us unique from other people.
The child should be himself no matter what and not try to make others like him by changing. Talk about what he loves to do and how other kids probably have that same hobby. Making friends in clubs after school is a great way to find kids who like to do the same things.
The child who is being bullied may need counseling if it has gone on for a long time. He needs to be reassured that there is nothing wrong with him. Ask how he would feel if a good friend or sibling was being treated this way. It would be wrong as it is wrong for children to bully him.
What parents can do about bullying:
Parents should ban all name-calling from the beginning. It may seem harmless when your child is very young but as they grow up, you don’t want them to use name-calling for bullying. Teach your child to be respectful even when upset or mad at someone. Even kidding around with your child, calling him “Tubby” for his round belly, can begin the spiral into bullying for your child. It seems innocent enough but name-calling quickly can get out of control. It harms children’s self esteem and how they see themselves over time.
If your child is being bullied at school, talk to teachers and principals. If that gets you nowhere and the bullying continues, ask to move your child into a different classroom. Write a letter and send a copy to the school board, this will hopefully make the school take action to protect your child while he is at school. Long term problems could be solved by changing schools. Your child is not learning if he is constantly barraged by teasing, name-calling, and bullying. The school should be a bully-free zone so kids can be educated. Your child should feel safe at school, on the playground, and on the school bus. Don’t stop trying to get action for your child.