Help your child beat bullies

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By Matt Overing


A kid named Robert bullied me in elementary school.
Robert would always break my pencils. He’d laugh about it and just walk away.
My dad told me to punch him. He said to sock him in the mouth and he’ll back off. He knew I’d get in trouble, but he wanted me to stand up to a bully without the help of a teacher or parent.
I didn’t know it then, but my dad was teaching me to fight my own battles. He wasn’t going to be the one to call my teacher and complain that his child was being bullied.
Children today may be in the same boat. Some people say that bullying has increased over the years, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that a “growing awareness” of bullying may lead to a “perceived” increase.
I agree, but the avenues of bullying have changed. Cyber bullying is new and it’s difficult to deal with.
With the school year ending, parents may think that the bullying threat has ended. Don’t be that parent.
Sure, kids like Robert can’t break pencils poolside or at summer camp. But they can still bully.
This summer, talk to your kids about bullying. Prepare your kids for whatever they may do this summer, whether it is enjoying days by the pool or going to summer camp.
I have worked summer camps. I’ve worked as a basketball basic skills teacher at the YMCA. I know there are some kids that are passive and others that are more aggressive.
As a parent, it’s your job to make sure your child is comfortable wherever they go this summer. It’s also your job to make sure your child isn’t the one dishing out the bullying – too many times have I seen parents turn a blind eye to their child’s malfeasance because they think their child is a spitting image of their perfect selves.
Don’t be that parent.
I’m in no place to give advice. But, as a former teenager in the information era, I can offer a different perspective.
Be a parent that is active with your child’s development. Learn to walk the fine line between letting them fight their own battles and helping them out.
It’s essential for you to communicate with your children. Understand their situation. Guide them through the challenges that they face.
My dad told me that it’s harder being a child now than it ever has been. That’s true, and it will continue to be true in the future.