Fathers can help their children put school bullying in perspective with just a few simple tools. Just like with your toolbox in your garage, not every tool works in every circumstance which involved bullying, but one or more of these tools will help your children understand bullying (and its technology variation cyberbullying), deal with it when it happens, and be less likely to be a victim when the bullies come to call.
Remember that it is not about your child. Bullies don't target children for bullying because the child somehow invites it. Bullies are bullies because they have a problem, not because the victims do. Whether your child is different in some way from the mainstream or not, the bullies are operating out of their own problems and challenges, not your child's. Help them externalize the bullying experience by helping them see that bullying is something children do because they don't have healthy ways or paths available to them.
Partner with an adult. Bullies generally stop when an adult intervenes. If your child has been the victim of bullying and is afraid to go back to where the bullies are, engage a teacher, principal, playground monitor or other adults in the battle. Make sure that your child feels safe reporting the bullying and having a responsible adult intervene.
Take your child's side with the system. Sometimes adults are reluctant to intervene or maybe they don't see the problem. Get involved at school and find an adult that is able and willing to help. Don't just gloss over the issue, but help your child navigate the troubled waters at school. Keep going until you find someone that will help.
Have a safe place of retreat. Teach your child to find and maintain a safe place. Maybe she should play at recess near the playground monitor. Or perhaps she will be safer if she is in a large group of children rather than playing off on her own where she is an easier target. Talk to the school and see what they recommend in terms of a place of safety. Maybe just a little hopscotch on the sidewalk outside the office door would be a good strategy.
Plan out a response. When your child has a plan, and you work with them on implementing the plan and even acting our scenarios, they will be better equipped to handle the situation when it comes up. Use a family night to talk about bullying and then act out some scenarios where your child responds appropriately. A little imagination can go a long way in helping them remember what to do when they find themselves in a hard circumstance.
Share stories. Granted, bullying today can be a lot more sophisticated and scary than it was when we were children. But having your child hear stories about how others (cousins, siblings, friends) handled bullying effectively can give them both tools to handle it and hope that it can be done. Seek out parents whose children got through the ordeal and invite them over to your home for a barbeque and talk about what worked for them.
Stand up then walk away. One element that seems to work wiht bullies is to not be intimidated. We might think that the bully will "up the ante" but usually they just go and look for a weaker victim. Suggest that your child tell the bully to stop and then just walk away and ignore them. It takes a lot of bravery to make the first step, but your child will build a brave character one challenge at a time.
Don't be alone with the bully. Make sure that your child knows that bullying happens less when a person is in a group than when he or she is alone. Have a friend with whom you sit on the bus or at lunch together. If a bully pursues your child, have them head off to a group of people rather than trying to get away from others.
Avoid responding violently. While it may be a common defense mechanism to respond to bullying with a physical confrontation, it almost never works. Trying to take the bully out only provokes further escalation of the bullying behavior. Children are better advised to try to stand up, walk away and ignore strategy. If a child is physically assaulted by a bully, that behavior should be reported to a responsible adult immediately.
Try some of the good online, interactive anti-bullying resources. There are many good online resources that parents can use to have a good discussion about bullying and what to do about it. Take a look at these web sites.
Fathers can do a lot to help their children learn how to deal with school bullying and can give them some excellent tools to address these bullying issues. Help them understand bullying, to be brave when bullied and to use all the resources they have to stay safe and positive.