In a Philadelphia suburb on March 3, 2013, a young boy died a day after his twelfth birthday, the victim of bullying. Unfortunately, his sad story is not an isolated incident. Around the country, other children have become victims of bullying.
Parents and teachers can begin to break this cycle by helping children understand the nature of a bully. And then offer these explanations:
- Bullies behave that way because they want attention. By walking away, you deny them the attention they want.
- The only attention a bully gets at home is generally negative attention. To change the bully's attitude, everyone must begin to give him attention for the good things that he or she does. It may be hard to find that spark of goodness, but it's worth the effort to help the bully feel needed and wanted for something in his or her young life.
- Sometimes it isn't enough to ignore the bully. Occasionally, the bullied child needs to gently and respectfully confront the bully by saying, "Why do you want to do that to me? What did I do to deserve that?" When the response is also negative, the bullied child should walk away, leaving the bully to consider the questions.
- Humor defuses most situations. Teach your child to laugh and say, "Hey that was funny! But don't do it again." The bully will likely take one step backwards and then go the other direction!
What you DON'T want your child to do is confront the bully with more anger and more negative attention. That will almost always lead to a fight where someone gets hurt. Bullying is a real problem in schools, but with education and practice at home, your child can have the emotional armor to protect him or herself from the inevitable bullies.
It is the goal of Entelechy Education, LLC to educate children, parents, and teachers about ways to be more caring about others. Each of our books on STEM topics includes a character component. In the newly released Where's Green?, one of the rainbow colors feels so isolated from the group that he volunarily leaves to avoid conflict. The EnteleTrons™ teach all the colors about the meaning of cooperation and understanding to create a harmonious group.