Bully...someone who gets pleasure from inflicting physical or emotional pain on another. Throughout this 4 Part Series we've discussed who a bully is and realized that there are no stereotypes of exactly who can be a bully. We also discovered the reasons why people bully. Now, I want to discuss what to do if your child is the victim of bullying OR if your child is a bully.

Let's get honest here. Nobody wants to admit or even hear that their child is bullying someone. Personally, it would devastate me to learn that one of my children were doing this. However, after knowing why kids bully, it's empowering to know you can do something about it. The key thing to do here is to create some quiet time to reflect on the four basic needs I talked about in part three of this series. Which one (or more) of their needs are not being met? Then, take the easy action steps to fulfill that need. You may also have a conversation with them about getting out of a group or friendship that is not serving them. Just remember, it is not possible for a truly happy child to bully; it just wouldn't occur to them. The NEED wouldn't be there.

Now, the more tricky situation is when your child is the victim of bullying. The answer or solution is not simple, nor easy, but I want to give you a variety of things you can do to empower your child, so that the bully's words or actions do not make a lasting impression upon your child's subconscious.

1) Be sure they have a friend. For children, having a good, consistent friend is so important. To them a good friend is someone they spend a lot of time together, it's not as deep as we adults feel about it. Therefore, with the teacher's help, facilitate a friendship. Create play dates, invite over for dinner etc. Knowing they have a special friend who DOES like them is very important for them to feel safe and good about themselves.

2) Put your child in a group. Swim, soccer, drama, choir or music groups give people a sense of belonging, therefore choose one that suits your child's abilities and interests and watch them flourish as they work together with others toward a common goal. (by the way, this is a good idea if your child is a bully as well since they will learn to work with others as a team; they can't exclude anyone here).

3) Spend some one-on-one time making an All About Me Poster. As part of your regular one-on-one time tell your child that you have a great idea for an activity you could do together. Come prepared as you present this idea with magazine, cool paper, stencils, foam stick-ons, stickers, markers, etc. Each of you make a poster titled, "All About Me". After the poster is complete with images, words, etc. Write a sentence that paraphrases what the poster shows. For example, "I am a kind, sporty, cool dressing, train-loving, family loving boy." Then hang this poster in your child's room so they see it often and can reflect on what they love or like about themselves. The fact that you'll be making one too will encourage them to do this properly.

4) Role Play. It is important that your child practices how to handle situations where they feel uncomfortable. Having the words and the plan beforehand is very empowering to a child. So, take a situation and discuss what they could do or say in return. Make this light-hearted. I did this with my son the other day. He was complaining that a boy kept yanking his hand really hard and wouldn't stop even when my son asked him to stop. I gave him an idea of what he could say to the boy and you should have seen what happened. He went from a sullen face and hunched over back to a perky, exuberant child saying, "That is an awesome idea, Mom! High five!!" He felt instantly empowered and I haven't heard anything since.

5) Read books. Reading to your child is not only a bonding experience between the two of you, it is such an opportunity to teach values or lessons. Children identify with characters in stories, especially if they are the same age. While reading books about bullying your child will realize that bullying is real, it exists and that it’s not only they who are experiencing the negativity. Here are some of my favourite books to read with your child.

-The Juice Box Bully (younger school aged)
-The Hundred Dresses (for older kids)
-Stick Up For Yourself (8-12 years old)
-The Recess Queen (younger school aged)
-The English Roses Collection (8-14 years old)

6)Speak to your Child’s School and Teacher. In order to eliminate bullying, it needs to become socially unacceptable. Remember when it was cool to smoke? Now it is socially looked down upon. We need to get our schools to take a stand on bullying and help make it absolutely unacceptable at any school.

There is a fantastic campaign called, “The Pink T-Shirt Campaign” started by a group of Vancouver teens. (http://www.standupday.com/08/participants/index.php?target=pages&page_id...) Share this campaign with your principals and head teachers so that they can get on board. International STAND UP Bullying Day is Feb.24th this year.

In order for bullying to stop, all children need to be educated on who a bully is and why someone bullies. Then, there needs to be a zero tolerance policy in every school. If everyone is clear, then there can be no unanswered questions and I believe bullying can be something that is written about in history books.

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.