Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Epidemic of Bullying - Part 3

* This is Part 3 in a five part series on Bullying

Today let's talk about how to help your child cope with their feelings about being bullied.

Coping with Feelings: As a psychologist, this is the one area I probably deal with the most. I encourage children to share how they are feeling about their experience and validate those feelings. One of the most damaging things we can do as adults is fail to validate a child's feelings. Let them know that it is okay to feel sad, angry, scared, or frustrated. Which brings me to another important point, children feel various ways regarding bullying and we should not place our own feelings onto them. We may also need to help the child recognize and label those feelings.

Once we have helped the child label feelings and have validated them, we now need to help them cope with the situation. There are the immediate coping skills of telling the bully to stop, walking away, and telling an adult. Then there are the coping skills that come after.

We need to encourage our children to express their feelings. They can do this verbally (i.e. talking to an adult), written (i.e. journaling, writing down negative emotions and ripping the paper up, creative writing), and/or physically (i.e. crying, hitting a pillow, screaming into a pillow, squeezing a stress ball). The point is to take whatever the emotion is and get it out of your head and body. When we bottle up emotions, they eventually have to come out, and typically when they do it is not in a constructive or appropriate manner.

As a bit of a side note, sometimes parents/adults get freaked out or don't know how to handle it when their child expresses their feelings in a somewhat angry or violent manner. As long as it is appropriate (i.e. writing, drawing, hitting a pillow) you don't have to be too concerned. How many of us have been upset and thought about or said we wanted to punch someone or something? The feeling is normal, but impulse control and a sense of right and wrong keeps us from doing so. The same goes for children. It is normal for them to write about hurting their bully or draw a picture of them beating up the bully, and in cases like that adults need to empathize with those feelings and then talk about why it wouldn't be okay to act on those feelings/impulses, and continue to encourage them to share those feelings. Obviously if this anger and violence is being directed at someone or at themselves then you need to intervene and help them find a more appropriate way to cope. You also have to look at how violent the response is. A drawing of them beating up their bully is not as significant as a drawing of them going on a shooting spree. If in doubt, take them to a counselor to help them express their feelings. Everyone could benefit from counseling at some point in their life.

For additional resources on bullying check the U.S. Government's website.


Talli Roland said...

An important post - thank you.

Bookblogger said...

Very informative segment I look forward to reading them.

N. R. Williams said...

I agree with you.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, Special .99 through April 30

Draven Ames said...

Came here for the blogfest, but you have some interesting points about bullies. If you have questions, a psychologist can help, but the biggest things that can change our child's life is us. I am a firm believer that time with our children can change them forever. So can time in front of an Xbox or TV.

Draven Ames

CCH said...

amen sista!