During the 2009-2010 school year, 23 percent of public schools reported that bullying occurred on a daily or weekly basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But bullying doesn't have to take over your child's life. While children shouldn't always be expected to deal with bullies on their own, helping your child stand up to bullying can provide a number of important benefits to his self-esteem and overall well-being.
One of the most psychologically damaging effects of bullying on victims is an increased sense of powerlessness and weakness. Kids who are bullied often feel angry, helpless and guilty, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. When children learn effective ways of standing up to bullies, they might develop an increased sense of empowerment and self-efficacy. Kids who stand up to bullies learn that they don't have to be victims. They learn they can have an effect on what happens to them and reclaim their power as individuals.
Assertiveness and feelings of empowerment often go hand-in-hand. Children who are victims of bullying are often picked on because they lack assertiveness skills. The bully picks on the victim because he senses that he won't get a response, or that he can get away with his behavior because the victim won't stand up for himself. Children who stand up to bullies learn to be assertive, says licensed social worker Signe Whitson in an article for "Psychology Today." They learn to navigate the waters between aggressive confrontation and passive acceptance. This can lead to the development of assertiveness, a skill that will provide benefits for the rest of their lives.
Self-esteem is a sense of pride and self-worth in who you are and what you accomplish in life. It's the way people value and respect themselves and how they perceive their value to the world. Assertive, confident children "repel bullying situations," says Karen Stephens, director of Illinois State University's Child Care Center in an article for the "Parenting Exchange." Children who stand up to bullies learn to take responsibility for what happens to them and that they don't have to feel like victims. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, children who stand up to bullies develop the confidence to stand up for what they believe in.
Children who stand up to bullies often learn to develop better communication skills, such as maintaining positive body language, making eye contact, and how to effectively and honestly communicate their needs and feelings. They learn that they don't need to rely on force or aggression to communicate with others, say psychologists Arthur M. Horne, Dawn A. Newman-Carlson and Christi L. Bartolomucci in their book, "Bully Busters." Learning effective communication skills at an early age can provide lifelong benefits and help children develop positive, healthier relationships with others.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Understanding Bullying
- National Crime Prevention Council: Bullying: What to Teach Kids About Bullying
- Psychology Today: 7 Skills for Teaching Your Child to Stand-Up to Bullies
- Parenting Exchange: Bullying Among Peers: Managing Bullying Behavior and Helping Kids Stand Up for Their Rights
- National Crime Prevention Council: Bullying: What Parents Can Do
- Bully Busters: Arthur M. Horne, Dawn A. Newman-Carlson and Christi L. Bartolomucci
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