by Samanth Booth, Counseling Intern
October is Bullying prevention month. Bullying has become a pressure point over the last decade or so. It can sometimes be confusing what is teasing and what is true bullying. Most kids get teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. And it's not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, and both kids find it funny. But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop.
Bullying is when peers intentionally use physical, verbal, or psychological ways to torment someone else, using a real or perceived power imbalance between the bully and the victim. Bullying can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them. Others use social media or electronic messaging to taunt others or hurt their feelings.
Here are some ways to navigate talking to a child about being bullied and helping them build resilience and confidence.
1. Listen calmly and offer comfort and support. Kids are often reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it's happening, or worry that their parents will be disappointed, upset, angry, or reactive.
2. Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that they're not alone. Reassure them that you will figure out what to do about it together.
3. Offer Solutions. Some methods that can be effective include: Ask an adult close by for help, firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, then walk away, or talk to someone they trust.
Dealing with bullying can hurt a child's confidence. Encourage your kids to spend time with friends who have a positive influence. Participation in clubs, sports, or other enjoyable activities builds strength and friendships. It can also be helpful to help your child to think about the good parts of their day and what they are excited about or thankful for.
We have competent and caring therapists in all four of our locations: River Counseling Services in Platte, Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Stronghold Counseling Services in Sioux Falls and in Yankton -who will meet you where you are, offering hope. That is our mission. You may schedule an appointment at the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your computer, smartphone, or in person at any of our clinics. To schedule an appointment, please call 605-334-2696.