Playgrounds are typically a source of care-free physical activity for children. However, when a child is the victim of playground bullying, what used to be a haven for fun becomes a place of exclusion. No parent wants to hear their child say that they are being bullied, but being proactive about a situation like this can be the determining factor of how your child handles herself when faced with conflict.
International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Voice of Play want to keep the playground an enjoyable place for the development of critical physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. A great source for suggestions on how to help your child respond to bullies – and not just those out on the playground – is Parenting.com. Keep in mind that not every tactic will work with every bully, so make sure your child has a few different approaches up her sleeve.
- Tell your child to stand his ground. Kids often bully others to get a reaction, so being brave and showing the bully that he doesn’t bother him could end the problem.
- Ignore the bully. Similar to number one, bullies are often seeking attention from others. If your child isn’t giving the bully the attention he is seeking, there is no point in him continuing.
- Meet new friends. With younger children, it is not uncommon for a bully to have once been your child’s friend. If you notice her friend is repeatedly putting her down verbally, physically hurting her in some way or causing your child to be rejected from other kids, it is necessary to show her that real friends don’t treat others this way.
- Play in a group. Bullies like to isolate their victims, so playing with a group of other children can make it less likely for a bully to approach your child. This is a great way for your child to meet new people, as well, but isn’t always an option when it comes to resolving a conflict with a bully.
- Last but not least, tell an adult. Make sure your child knows that telling an adult when they are being hurt in some way is not just tattling. When you aren’t around, encourage your child to talk to a teacher if a problem arises. Role-playing is a great way to help her become more comfortable with this approach.
Wanting to resolve the problem yourself is a natural response, but is not always the best one. Teaching your children how to deal with bullies at a young age helps prepare them for resolving all kinds of conflicts – both now on the playground and later in life. For expert advice on bullying, or understanding the national epidemic of bullying, visit Parenting.com.
Keep the ‘play’ in playground. Help your child understand why bullies act the way they do and teach them how to resolve a problem with a bully in a safe way.