My Daughter's Getting Bullied: Now What?
By: Michael Meeley
No father would ever want his daughter to experience bullying. Naturally, when your daughter is getting bullied, all you want to do is make it stop immediately. As times have progressed, so has the intensity of bullying.
Today, bullying exists in many forms. From verbal, psychological, and emotional to physical bullying, children are bullied across the country in varied forms. With the prevalent use of social media, there are high chances of bullying after school as well.
Here are steps that you can take after you’ve realized that your daughter is being bullied.
Address the situation as soon as possible
Oftentimes, coming face to face with the fact that your child is being bullied can send any parent into a spin.
They can be agitated, angry, or frustrated. But the kids don’t want you to overreact. The way you address this situation is also a way of teaching your daughter how she is supposed to feel or react. Therefore, keep your emotions in check and talk about what happened as soon as you notice any signs of bullying.
Listen to what your daughter explains carefully
Let your daughter talk about her experience without interfering with her or asking multiple questions midway. Listen in a non-judgmental and supportive way, so your daughter knows you are there to help her.
Plus, it is always a good idea to find out more about the bully once she is done explaining her part. And any specific ways she is experiencing the bullying behavior at school, on social media, or any other platform.
Try not to personalize
If you were bullied too as a child, such incidents with your daughter could bring up painful memories. However, try to remember not to personalize her experience as your own.
Instead, try to remember the responses you received from others that were useful, or not so much, for you to combat bullying. Use the ones that were helpful and avoid what may have been hurtful to you.
Avoid retaliation against the bully or their family
You will be tempted to take matters into your own hands and teach a lesson to the bully yourself. That is a bad idea. Again, how you react in a situation like this is setting an example for your daughter as well. Rather than taking any abrupt actions, think about how you can help your daughter feel better and deal better in the future with bullying.
Teach your daughter how to deal with bullying
There are several ways you can teach your daughter how to react to and deal with bullying.
Practice phrases with your daughter to tell someone to stop the bullying behavior. For example, “Leave me alone,” “Back off,” or even “Yeah, whatever.” The key is to use phrases that aren’t a put-down, as that may aggravate the bully more.
Role-play scenarios are an excellent way to build confidence and empower your daughter. You can enact different responses to bullying until your daughter feels confident handling any stressful situation.
Teach how to project confidence in a calm and steady voice in front of the bully. For example, if someone calls her names, she should say, “I don’t like you calling me all these names. I want you to start calling me by my real name.”
Promote confident behavior and body language like looking at the color of the eye of their bully or switching to her brave face. This way, she will look straight up and appear stronger. Although this won’t necessarily stop the bullying behavior, confidence can be empowering in troublesome situations.
Work on building your daughter’s confidence by encouraging hobbies, extracurricular activities, and social situations that make her feel the absolute best. This will reinforce positive behavior, build her self-esteem, and prevent any potential bullying situations.
Find help at school
Ultimately, it is up to you to help your daughter combat the bullies. If the bullying behavior is branching from school, then go with your daughter to talk to a teacher, guidance counselor, school administrator, or principal. It is important to stay on top of the matter by learning about the school’s policy on bullying and the actions being taken to prevent bullying. When necessary, you should also get help from family, a therapist, community resources, or a police officer to stop repeated and severe bullying.
Encourage your daughter to be an upstander
Being an upstander means taking an active and positive action when they see another student or friend being bullied. Talk to your daughter about how she feels when someone stands up for her and how she can make a difference.
Bullies have a need for control and power over others. And they lack self-control and sensitivity toward others. But most bullies will not interfere with someone who is strong.
Teach coping skills
If your daughter is getting bullied, first of all, remind her that it’s not her fault and she shouldn’t feel any less worthy because of this incident.
Acknowledge her experience and let her know that she is not alone and that you are there to help her every step of the way. Moreover, look into ways that may help her be more confident and more empowered.
Taking a break from social media, and investing in self-care are great ways to boost a healthy self-image.
Contact the offender’s parents
Getting the parents involved is only suitable if the acts of bullying are persistent and you feel that the parents are sensible enough to understand the problems and may be willing to work with you cooperatively and respectfully.
Try to communicate with the parent in the most non-confrontational way and bring up the matter of bullying.
Enroll your Daughter in Self-Defense Class
Sometimes, bullies don’t go away, no matter how much we want them to, and no matter what you have done to protect you child, they should be armed with a self-defense class, in case the bully takes things to another level.
Not all kids admit that they are being bullied. It can be embarrassing and soul-crushing for many. Plus, not everybody knows how to react to bullying. Therefore, it is essential that you keep a close eye on any signs of bullying and always maintain healthy communication so that your daughter knows she can come up to you anytime.
Michael Meely is a writer out of Seattle. He is a father to one year-old Stacey and has been married to his wife, Cindy, for seven years.