• A practical faith-based approach to dealing with bullies

    dealing with bullies

    Many parents struggle with knowing how to deal with the situation when their children are being bullied. We have this fear that intervening in the wrong way, may only make the current circumstance worse for them.

    However, we do not want to let the spirit of our children be crushed by allowing them to fend for themselves. It is extremely important to keep the conversation open and equip your children with the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with bullies.

    How can you help your children with bullies? Here are 5 practical anti-bullying strategies to use:

    1. Get all the details

    This might seem simple, but I can’t emphasise this point enough. Be sure to get all the details before taking any action to address the bullying. Too many times parents get the short story and rush into a situation to defend their children, only to find out, there is another side.

    Remember bullying is a repeated action, not just once off. Find out:

    • When the bullying started
    • Where it takes place
    • Who else is involved

    It’s very important that your child feels comfortable to bring you into the situation, so ask lots of pro-active questions to get the full picture.

    2. Role-play different circumstances

    One of the best ways to help your children with bullies is to role-play different scenarios with them at home. The key to this strategy is understanding how your child feels when it occurs. Knowing this will help you communicate the best course of action for each scenario and will also help your children apply it.

    Before the bullying is likely to take place again, talk through individual scenarios and different responses your child can give. Home is the safest place to prepare for any real-world circumstance.

    3. Talk to the adult in charge

    Even if the bullying is verbal rather than physical, it has the potential to escalate. To ensure that your child’s safety is not threatened, let your children know that it is appropriate for them to talk to the adult in charge.

    Help them pinpoint who that adult might be, so if the situation does arise they know exactly who to look for. For example, if the bullying occurs at school on the playground, they can look for the teacher on duty.

    4. Pray specifically for the bully

    Although this might sound odd, it’s probably one of the most important things you can teach your children, when facing any encounter with another person. God wants us to rely on him (see Proverbs 3:5). In Matthew 5:43 it says, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

    Jesus actually commands us to pray for those who persecute us. Persecution can mean pursuing or pressing on, to oppress or harass. Bullying is a form of oppression and harassment, so teach your children as the Bible commands. Lift the situation to God and pray specifically for the bully.

    5. Take a stand

    If you’re responding to direct continuous bullying, teach your children to stand up for themselves in an appropriate manner.

    Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

    Encourage your children with this verse, explaining that God always walks with them and is always by their side. You can practice phrases they can use during these situations such as “that’s not cool” and “please don’t do that”.

    Teach your children to look directly into the bullies eyes when responding. However, ensure that there is enough space between you and your child when practicing. You want your child to be clear and direct, but not threatening. You don’t want the bully to get the impression that your child wants to escalate the encounter into a fight.

    Equipping our children

    As a parent, it’s our job to equip our children with the right skills and attitude to be able to hand real-life situations with confidence. Remember to talk through each situation, discuss all available options and practice at home.

    Make it interesting and engaging, so the practice doesn’t turn into a high pressure situation for them. Rather, create an opportunity for your children to learn and thrive!

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