Some parents may imagine a bully as the big tough boy who hits smaller children and steals lunch money. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Girls can bully too. Dr. Sabrina Brinson with Crisis Prevention points out that girl bullies often go unreported, especially when their victims are boys. The fact is, every child deserves to feel safe, regardless of gender. Helping boys deal with girl bullies is an important way to support your son’s development.
Understand the problem, as this is the first step to dealing with bullying girls. Brinson notes that while adults constantly remind boys not to bully girls, the issue of girls bullying boys is rarely, if ever, discussed. This lack of recognition gives many children the idea that it really isn’t a problem for girls to bully boys. In our culture, boys are supposed to be stronger than girls, not their victims. These common misconceptions often cause boys to hide the problem and hope it will go away.
Recognize the warning signs. Your son may show signs of physical or emotional abuse. StopBullying.gov lists several physical indicators of bullying such as bruises, torn clothing and loss of money, books or electronics. However, not all Bullying is physical. Many girls resort to cyber bullying, according to Girlshealth.gov. Girls may spread rumors or insults through social networking. The victim may receive email, text or instant messages filled with accusations or rumors. This may cause physical and emotional symptoms like headaches, nightmares or a sense of anxiety.
Talk to your child. Let him know that bullies are wrong, regardless of their gender. Listen to his side of the story and his experiences. Praise him for coming to an adult to ask for help rather than just fighting back. Let him know that it isn’t his fault. Bullies act out for a wide range of reasons. However, the bully has made the wrong choice, not the victim.
Practice ways to handle the bullying group. Help your son come up with statements or behaviors that defuse the bullying situation. For example, when the group of girls confronts him, he might roll his eyes and say something like, “I really don’t have time for this today” as he walks away. Brainstorm other fun and clever sayings that can defuse the situation and give him a sense of control.
Talk to your son’s teacher or principal. Many schools have programs to stop or discourage bullying and may be able to help not only your child, but also the bullying group. While the school may not be able to stop all cyber bullying, the administration can deal with any email sent through the school's system.
Encourage your son to use the buddy system. Going through his day with a trusted friend not only gives him support during a tough time, but also gives him some protection from the bullying group of girls.
Help your son rebuild his confidence. Let him spend time with trusted and positive friends that will help restore his self-esteem. Encourage him to participate in sports, music or other activities that give him a sense of self-worth.
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- When you talk about bullying, try to use gender-neutral pronouns or use both masculine and feminine forms to ensure that your child knows girls can be bullies too.
- If your child seems depressed, doesn't eat or sleep or loses interest in normal activities, seek professional help immediately. The stress of bullying can lead to depression and tragic results.
Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.
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