If your child is being bullied, or is confronting social cruelty, it can be difficult to know what to do and what to say. Shorecrest, as I assume most schools do, strongly encourages parents to inform school staff whenever bullying is suspected. However, even after sharing information with the school, many parents feel at a loss as to how to support their child at home.
If your child reports bullying, or if you suspect that your child is being bullied, always provide them with a listening ear so that they can talk about it. In the past, many families felt that it was best to ignore bullying and teasing, or to let their child handle it independently. Research suggests, however, that true bullying is a situation that requires adult intervention. Encourage your child to talk about what is going on and how they feel about it. Offer empathy. Praise your child for having the courage to talk about it.
On the other hand, try to resist the temptation to blame your child by asking what they did to cause the bullying or otherwise implying that they were at fault. Likewise, don’t criticize his or her response to the bullying even if you don’t agree with how they handled it. Children often don’t know how best to respond in such an emotionally charged moment.
Perhaps most importantly, try to avoid becoming emotionally overwrought yourself. A parent’s protective instincts will naturally cause strong feelings to come up in you but it is important that you a.) model confidence that the situation will be resolved and that your child can get through it and b.) take time to step back, cool off, and consider your next steps carefully. Children are watching us carefully as we navigate these situations and it’s important that we model appropriate emotion and conflict resolution strategies.When working with children, I encourage them to stay S.A.F.E. from bullying. The acronym S.A.F.E. stands for:
Ask for Help
Find a Friend
Exit the Area
refers to a student telling another student how they feel about how they are being treated. Sometimes a direct approach (“stop calling me names or I will get the teacher”) is best. Other times using humor or agreeing with the bully (“thanks for noticing!”) is effective. You can role-play different responses with your child until their planned response to an unkind peer is automatic.
“Ask for Help”
refers to telling an adult at home or at school about the bullying. This is too big a problem for children to handle alone.
“Find a Friend”
refers to finding a friendly child or friendly group of children to join. It is much harder to bully a group than it is to bully a solitary individual.
“Exit the Area”
refers to establishing as much distance from the bully as possible, especially if the student feels that he/she might cry. Bullies feed on the reaction of those they bully. Denying them the reaction can often make them less interested in continuing the bullying.
Making our school a safe and welcoming space for all students is a goal that requires teamwork and communication between home and school.
At Shorecrest, please make informing school faculty or staff your first step and please join us as partners in addressing these situations. As Shorecrest Headmaster Mr. Murphy often tells the Lower School students, let’s make Shorecrest the kindest school in America!
Social-emotional support, character education, and the Core Values of Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Knowledge and Compassion are embedded into all facets of the Shorecrest curriculum. Visit our campus to learn more.