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Chapter Twenty-Five: How to Deal with Cyberbullying and Cyberbullying Attempts – Implementing Trust and Self-Empowerment in Your Child’s Life
Cyberbullying can take a drastic toll on your child. Educating your children on how to deal with cyberbullying can help them cope with difficult situations if they arise, as well as guide them on how to avoid such situations in general. Implementing and encouraging trust and self-empowerment in your relationship early on can help you and your child protect themselves and have a greater feeling of self-worth that bullies will shy away from.
Establishing open relationship with your child
From a young age, it is a good idea to establish an open and supportive dialogue between you and your child. Children thrive off of love and support from their parents and those close to them, so developing this type of relationship from the beginning is a good way to get your child to not be afraid of opening up to you later in life. Most importantly, this can even help save them from potential sexual predators and cyberbullies in the future. These evil menaces thrive off of insecure and lonely children, but if you and your child have an open, educative support system, they will become less likely to become involved in dangerous situations.
The good news is that it is never too late to begin a relationship like that with your child, especially when you suspect something is wrong. If you notice the warning signs and believe your child is being cyberbullied, it is important that you take charge and begin implementing tactics to help your child cope with the mental and emotional aftermath of being bullied and support them and their decisions.
Cyberbullying can lead children to become depressed and even suicidal. Something as simple as changing a child’s outlook on one aspect of life can change their state of mind completely. Parents can encourage their children to remind themselves of their self-worth and that they should think of themselves as desirable and loved by many. This outlook on life and on themselves can help them not only to avoid becoming a cyberbully, but to avoid the person/situation entirely. Parents can teach their child that the cyberbully is usually unhappy themselves. They are usually frustrated people who want to control your child’s emotions and get them to feel as negative and as bad as they do. It is important to teach your child that the best thing to do is to not give the bully the satisfaction of their attention. If parents encourage their children to think of themselves as worthy and loved, they are less likely to be as deeply affected by a bully’s tactics. Many children with this outlook on themselves usually escape the situation as a whole by not getting involved.
Activities and Hobbies
Parents can also help their children cope with cyberbullying or help avoid cyberbullying altogether by implementing activities that deal with improving their child’s stress levels. Such activities include sports, positive self-talk, and even breathing exercises. With these activities and hobbies, children can learn to de-stress and not become overwhelmed by everything going on around them. Not to mention that keeping a child busy and off of the computer entirely is another positive aspect of engaging them in after-school activities. It is widely known that children who pursue afterschool activities with their school or outside of their school are bullied less, have better stress levels, are safer, and actually do better in the classroom. After-school programs help keep children safe and away from negative influences such as drugs and alcohol, as well as help them achieve a higher sense of self-worth. Providing them with the opportunity to establish a good friend group with like-minded individuals, and helping them gain social skills help children feel better about themselves, and they are more likely to avoid the pressures of bullying. In addition to helping protect them, kids who engage in sports or other afterschool activities, statistically speaking, have a higher chance of attending college and becoming more successful in life.
Children who are the bullies or cyberbullies themselves tend to have voids in their own lives that need to be addressed in order for them to actually stop bullying others. If you notice signs and suspect that your child is a cyberbully, it is important to talk to them about what they are doing and why. Bullies may not fully understand that consequences of their actions, so explaining and breaking down their behaviors and their significance can help these bullies realize the pain they are causing others. Dealing with children who are the bullies themselves may be tough, but they essentially need the same love and support that victims need, as they too have voids that need to be addressed.
Staging interventions or setting up one-on-one meetings (under parental supervision) with your child and their victims of cyberbullying, or even in-school bullying, can be a good step in helping you and your child deal with cyberbullying. With this, children learn first-hand the consequences of their actions and actually get a feel for what their victims go through. However, it is extremely important to find the right time and place for an event such as this. Remember to check if your child is old enough and mature enough to understand something this monumental. Many schools and outside programs can help parents and children set up meetings like this and deal with issues such as these.
If it is your child who is the cyberbully, it is important to not directly lay blame on them, for he or she may then get visibly upset. This may lead to them being reluctant to discuss the issue with you, or they can even lash out at you or their victim(s). Make sure to establish open dialogue between you and your child so that you can find out their motives for bullying others, and this way you can help resolve any issues directly and together.
Instituting support systems and showing interest in your child’s well-being can be all that they need. Plan activities and interactions that are community based and teach them about helping animals, adults, and other kids. Focus on doing good deeds for others, and the feelings of satisfaction you get after doing so. Don’t directly blame them from the get-go, but rather figure out ways to positively help your child learn that bullying is not acceptable. Helping children understand the consequences of their actions is sometimes just enough to stop kids from bullying others. If talking one-on-one is not enough, there are many different interventions parents can stage for their kids with school educators, or even the victim(s) themselves, to help parents and children alike.
How to talk to your child about bullying
Here is a quick guide in general:
- Explain to them what bullying is – give them a definition below, or one they can understand better. "Bullying: when someone repeatedly and purposely says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending him or herself."
- Talk about safe ways for them to stand up to their bullies:
- Teach them confidence and how to say, "No!" or "Stop!" firmly.
- Have them use humor and tell them not to show the bully they are scared or upset in any way.
- Tell them to act as if they don’t care what the bully says – if they ignore them by doing something else, the bully won’t get the satisfaction they want.
- One of the most important things to teach your child is to tell them not to respond to bullying with anger or with their own bullying in return.
- As discussed before, keep communication lines open and fully understand your children’s concerns. Find an approach to prevent or stop bullying together.
- Tell them that they can actually avoid being bullied entirely by playing in safe places where adults are always near or staying with a buddy or group of friends at all times.
- Role-play conversations with bullies to help them prepare for any situation that may come up when they are confronted by one.
- Tell them about bullying experiences you may have had as a child to make them feel better. Explain how you resolved your issues – without anger or bullying.
Assure your child that no matter what, you can figure out a solution to their problems together. Be calm, loving, and understanding, and make sure they know that you are there to help protect them from any harm.