When your child is being bullied it really affects the entire family not just the kid. Trying to manage daily life can be overwhelming, when you add the stress of monitoring bullying and you can be thrown into a tailspin.
Most of us are doing our best as a parents just to get through the day, and when someone targets your child, it is heartbreaking and probably one of the most stressful parenting situations you can experience.
Parents feel powerless when a child is bullied
You love your child and you want to help them solve this problem with the bully. Since you haven’t been through this before, often you aren’t sure how to navigate the situation or where the goal posts are.
One of the most frustrating things about your child being bullied is it can feel out of your control, leaving you feeling powerless as a parent.
It’s true that you can’t control what the bully does to your child day to day. However, you are not powerless, and can change how your family reacts to the situation.
You can take action by empowering your child to speak up and verbally defend themselves. The web site www.ishouldhavesaid.net has great comebacks that kids can use when a bully tries to target and embarrass them in front of other others.
You can also contact the school and let them know what has been going on, and take firm actions to shut down the bullies.
Feeling like you have let your child down
When your child is being bullied, you may mentally beat yourself up, feeling like you have failed to protect or bully proof your child. You may wonder how you missed both the signs of bullying and the changes in your child’s behaviour. And question why you didn’t catch on to what has been going on sooner.
Berating yourself isn’t going to help you or your child. Stop being so unkind to yourself immediately! Often children can’t process or imagine what has fully been going on (from the hidden behavior) so there is little chance you would have been able to figure it out without clues or kids disclosures. A lot of the time, relational bullying happens away from teachers and parents. (read more here).
Driving yourself crazy overthinking the situation
When your child is bullied and you send them to school, you may feel like a nervous wreck at home or work wondering if they are safe. The bullying situation may consume your thoughts. It’s common to also overthink the situation, causing yourself extreme anxiety.
One mom I know, became so obsessive she made the situation worse by driving her family crazy. Adrianna would want to know every detail of what happened at school daily, and would say hateful things about the mean kid. It got to the point her husband and children had to tell her to calm down and limit sharing all of the details with her. Over-reacting to every detail doesn’t help your child.
Capture what happened to your child, and report it to the school and then let it go.Stop going over everything in your mind a 100 times. Turn your focus to ways to empower your child and what they are doing well.
Thinking hateful thoughts towards your child’s bully
If you are feeling resentful thoughts towards the bully, you are not alone. When someone threatens the well-being of your child it brings out the protective mama or papa bear. It’s common to feel a range of emotions including extreme anger.
Make sure you control your emotions when you go to the school, parents have been given restraining orders for threatening their child’s bully directly, or can lose respect and buy-in by the principal or teachers or counsellors then limiting school actions.
The challenging thing about feeling these kind of emotions, is its’ not easy to vent the way you feel to others. Express to trusted family members in private, but don’t march around the school ground proclaiming some kid is a piece of rubbish (even if you feel that it’s true).
Bullying can affect other relationships at the school
If you are family friends with parents at the school this can turn things upside down when you report a bully. Our son’s former best friend tried to turn every boy in the grade five class against our son, unbeknownst to us and him. After we found out what was going on, we immediately reported the kid to the school.
We had been friends with the bully’s family, which included dinners and camping trips. The bully’s family had been at our house for supper, and the next week in class trying to get kids to hunt our son on the playground. The bully’s mom tried to rebalance the situation as small potatoes, and sweep it under the table like it was no big deal.
Our family we decided we could no longer be friends with a bully’s family, whose son had clandestinely led a two month hate campaign against our son behind his back. It may not be a big deal for their family, but we had to undo all the damage their son had done to our kid’s temporary self-esteem and fractured friendships.
There will be some kind of silver lining
Our family went through a severe bullying ordeal, I would not say that I am glad that it happened, but what I will say is that I am really very happy who my son has become as an end result of what he went through. Jake is able now to stand up to people’s bad behavior, and judo verbal attacks. He is no longer a target, in fact he is an incredibly confident young man.
We navigated the bullying situation as a family, helped our son through the situation. He went on to show up the bully and turn the tables in every possible way.
By the end of the year, he beat the bully in many subjects academically and class debates, out ran him in track (and in fact came first ahead of all the associates of the bully), thrashed him at swimming and had a bigger friend group. Our son filled out into a strong young man, while the bully looked like an anorexic pixie, and his allies were confounded by how our son’s status kept increasing in spite of what happened.
Jake changed his friend group, and was selected to a school with higher achievers. Would this have happened if his former best friend didn’t turn against him? Probably, however overcoming adversity gave him a new confidence and independence, that he didn’t have before.
(Please note all names have been changed to protect privacy).