Creative Child

Relational Bullying - How to Handle Mean Girls

by Deborah Song on Aug 15th, 2014

Continued...

If you suspect that your child is the target of relational bullying, here are some tips to help your child cope and hopefully nip this type of bullying in the bud.

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Pay attention to signs.

Since most kids shy away from telling anyone, look for telltale signs: staying in their rooms for long periods of time, not playing with friends they used to, or not wanting to go to school.

Open up communication.

If your child is exhibiting any of these signs or just behaving differently, gently approach him without blame. Don't be quick to provide solutions. Just listen. Let them know they don't deserve it and that it's not their fault.

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Develop a game plan.

Make this a joint effort between you and your child. Something as simple as walking away or saying "this isn't fun, lets go play a game," can be an easy way to avert the situation. Bullies get off on seeing a reaction. So encourage your child to stay cool, calm and collected.

Teach Forgiveness and Empathy.

As tempting as it may be, don't retaliate by throwing a dirty look the next time you see the bully, or ring in an angry phone call to the kid's parents. At least not right away. Keep in mind that many bullies are victims too. Often times they're projecting some form of aggression in their own lives. And many bullies are minions of other bullies who are themselves being bullied. (Yes, it's an organized network of crime). They may be afraid that if they don't play along, they'll be made targets too. Rather, encourage pro-social behaviors in your child. Teach your child not to hold a grudge and to play with everyone, even those being ostracized. They'll soon form an alliance, making them less likely to be a target in the future.

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Seek outside help.

Involve a school administrator or teacher. But don't settle for someone that the school has assigned if they aren't showing much interest in the situation. Reach out to someone who really seems to care. The more you can get involved in your child's school, the easier it will be to find someone to reach out to.

Have multiple social groups.

One of the best defenses against the damaging effects of relational bullying is for a child to have different groups of friends. Whether your child is participating in sports, a church youth group, art class or drama class, these different sources of social interaction builds a child's confidence and allows a child not to put all of their social eggs in one basket.

Develop a strong sense of self.

If your child feels good about himself most of the time, they'll be less hurt by bullying and less likely to bully as a means for group approval. Involve them in activities they enjoy and that they're good at. And don't forget to provide an environment of love and acceptance at home.

Deborah Song is a Los Angeles-based writer and the mother of two girls. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University and writes about parenting, business and kid entrepreneurship. You can read more of her work at lemonadepost.com.

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