Bullying at school is a serious issue. Sad stories of bullying and schools taking preventative steps against the problem are in the news constantly. A child with special needs is often a target for bullying, which can affect school performance, behavior, and, perhaps most importantly, self-confidence.
Bullying is more than just teasing. It’s an intentional act, targeting classmates who seem different or vulnerable. And the worst part of bullying is that it is usually a recurrent experience for the child being bullied. The best way to address bullying behavior is to identify it as bullying and put a stop to it right away. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
Check Your School’s Anti-Bullying Policies
All 50 states have passed anti-bullying policies for schools. You child’s school is required to have an anti-bullying policy. Ask for a copy of the policy so that you can familiarize yourself with it. You can also check your school’s website and handbook for where to report bullying. If there’s no way to report bullying, be sure to let the principal know.
Many children don’t come to parents about issues of bullying because they’re afraid that the parents will insist that the bully is punished, causing retaliation from the bully. Reassure your child that you will diffuse the situation, but remember that it’s still important to let an authority know about the bullying.
Explain Bullying Behavior
A child who is being targeted by a bully often will not understand why or what to do. Explain to your child that a bully often picks on others in order to feel stronger or better about themselves and that they thrive on emotional reactions. Give your child a mantra to repeat in their head whenever a bully taunts them, such as “I don’t deserve this” or “Stay cool”. This form of self-regulation can help your child to stay calm in the face of bullying and not engage in behavior that could encourage the bullying or spark a fight.
Make a Plan
Bullying often happens at the same place and the same time. Help your child find ways to avoid being in the location of the bullying. So, if your child is being bullied in the back of the bus, urge them to sit in the front. If the bullying is happening on the playground, tell them to stay close to a supervisor.
You can also teach your child positive ways to react to bullying that may avert the bully. Saying things like “Stop that” or “Cut it out” loudly enough for an adult to hear may dissuade the bully from continuing the behavior.
Surround Your Child With Support
Make sure your child knows which of their teachers and friends they can go to for support when experiencing bullying at school. A good support system can help your child to cope with bullying at school until the issue is resolved!
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.