BULLY-PROOF your CHILD: How to raise confident sensitive children - 6 essential tips
Updated: Mar 5
Hello everyone, did you ever wonder why some kids are bullied and others are not? Well, it is a very complex question, and as I have mentioned in my previous article, I was bullied at high school, but it made me tough, and not care about what other people think of me. I can say that I coped with my feelings. However, I know that this kind of harassment has a massive impact on people’s self-esteem, mainly in young children, and it can be tragic if a child is sensitive. Sadly, we have to bear in mind that currently, bullying is a critical social issue that affects many people, and it can happen anywhere: at school, online or in other social circle.
Before I go more in-depth on this topic, I would like to explain that some children are not just sensitive; in the beginning, only a few parents and teachers can understand this trait; the book "The Highly Sensitive Child" the best-selling author Elaine Aron, Ph.D., defines a sensitive child as one who has "a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything." In an article posted by Psychology Today, Dr Aron explains that it is primarily parenting that decides whether the expression of sensitivity will be an advantage or a source of anxiety." And specialists say that sensitive children tend to be more creative kind, generous among other positive personal characteristics.
However, while the benefits of sensitive children abound, there are challenges that can overwhelm both child and parent. Sensitive children may become easily overwhelmed or fearful in many situations, and they may react in ways that can make them easy targets for bullies. Their natural personality doesn’t come with any armour. They also don’t typically fight back. Then, as parents, you have to demonstrate compassion when they need your support, and for that, you must teach your sensitive children how to avoid being targets. Sadly, bullying is on the rise, and according to Department of Education (UK) boys and younger children (those aged 10 to 12 years old) were more likely to experience physical bullying than other groups. That's the bad news. The good news is that you can help your child develop the skills to stand up to bullying behavior, and you can keep him from becoming a bully. How?
I have some effective recommendations from psychologists and specialists. It might help you to teach your child how to handle a bully, besides the title refers to sensitive children, all of these tips are also applicable for every children and also have a look at my second article Bully Proof Your Child (Without Being a Helicopter Parent):
1- STAY CONNECTED: Dr Signe Whitson (Psycology Today) explains that bullies operate by making their victims feel alone and powerless. Children reclaim their power when they make and maintain connections with faithful friends and supportive adults.
2- CREATE AWARENESS: Dr Whitson also points out that sometimes kids feel like adults never do anything so why even bother to tell them about the incidence of bullying? While there are cases when adults fail to acknowledge the seriousness of a situation, it is more often the case that grown-ups are not aware of what is going on. Bullies use relational aggression to inflict their violence in subtle, socially acceptable ways that tend not to register on an adult's radar. Teach your children that it is their job to create awareness: "Raise your hand if you need help 😉 I got your back".
3- KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN: The American Organization StopBullying says that you have to encourage your kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Encourage the child to report bullying if it happens. Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help. Also, start conversations about daily life and feelings with questions like these: “What was one good thing that happened today?” “Any bad things?” There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to encourage kids to answer them honestly.
4- RAISE A COMPETENT, CONFIDENT CHILD: There are no simple and effective techniques and advice on how to boost your child’s self-confidence. So it’s true that they learn from overcoming challenges, but they also learn best when they experience success, which motivates them to tackle more difficult challenges. Dr Laura Markham Ph.D (Psychology Today) explains that all humans need encouragement. Encouraging your kids not only keep their feelings more positive and motivated, but it also gives them an inner voice that will help them to encourage themselves for the rest of their lives. Give your child maxims to repeat as mantras when the going gets tough. But it is important to mention that sometimes as parents are over-protecting our children, so they don't gain confidence from learning to handle things for themselves.
5- MODEL HOW TO TREAT OTHERS WITH KINDNESS AND RESPECT: The specialist Jenifer DeMattia in the article "Raising A Highly Sensitive Child" points out that being emotionally sensitive is not a problem to be solved. It’s not a disorder or an issue of high alert. What would you do if someone told you not to feel what you were feeling? It’s almost impossible. These children don’t just feel emotions; they feel things deeply. Their empathy is through the roof. They are the ones who want to help solve problems. And they will eventually learn how to better deal with their emotions as they grow and continue to be encouraged and supported by those they love.
6- EMPOWER YOUR CHILD TO ASK FOR HELP: And again (and again) explain to your children that they don't have to be afraid to tell you if something happens to them and they don't need to suffer in silence. Dr Signe Whitson (Psycology Today) explains that it is essential to be clear in teaching your children that telling an adult about bullying is not a mark of cowardice, but rather a bold, powerful move. When the bully realizes that their intended victim is brave enough to connect with others, they lose their stronghold.
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WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED:
Don't be afraid to report bullying or harassment to the police department or another relevant sector (depends on your case) example: school, community centre or another social organization. And if you do not feel comfortable to talk with them, you can find support in a different way, there are several non-governmental organizations that can provide you with support, for example, The International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA) you will be taken seriously, they deal with this regularly and can offer you help and guidance. What you tell them will be dealt with sensitively and professionally. Don't be afraid to tell someone and don't suffer in silence. If you think that it is necessary please contact the police and they will investigate reports of serious incidents of physical bullying or harassment. If you do not want to report it to the police, contact a support agency. Have a look at this page. Also have a look at another previous article: "16 Signs your child is being bullied cyber or in real life"
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