Parents often get riled up when they learn their children are being bullied at school. But there must be a healthy and trusting parent-child relationship first before they can handle the situation effectively.
When they notice their kids displaying unusual behavior or emotions, parents tend to make snap judgments or jump to conclusions.
But they should try to keep calm and listen attentively to what their children have to say in order to get the whole story.
It would be best to express empathy by saying, “I would be equally upset if I were you.” It is also important to reassure children that everything will turn out fine.
If the situation is complicated, parents should notify the teachers and come up with solutions together.
What if their children are the bullies rather than the ones being bullied?
Parents should understand that bullying can be a gesture of seeking help in disguise. As such, it is not recommended for parents or teachers to punish the offending party right away.
Children who express their anger through violence should be taught that the harm they inflict on others is unwanted.
Meanwhile, parents should try to find out the reasons why their kids behave that way. Instead of lecturing them, parents should make their kids feel that they are understood, cared for and supported.
When children express regret for what they have done, parents should tell them that they are still loved. Parents should work with teachers to help the kids rectify their behavior.
Tell them there is no justification for violence, and teach them the social skills they need.
If the bullying behavior continues, parents should not hesitate to seek professional help from a social worker or psychologist.
Aside from parents, the school also plays an important role in combating bullying on the campus. Punishment alone is not an ideal method because bullies may not be able to see their fault while victims will not learn to protect themselves.
When the two parties meet after a hasty punishment is given, their relationship can turn worse as the conflict has not been settled.
Mediation is a great way for teachers to get the parties involved reconciled. It allows the victims to bravely articulate their feelings so that when the bullies realize the pain they have inflicted on their victims, they may see that they have been wrong all along.
It is only when the bullies sincerely feel sorry for their behavior will harmony and good relationship among children be rebuilt.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 1.
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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