A helpful article contributed by Herb Tannenbaum, director of Harbor Hills Day Camp, on the topic of Bullying, and some do's and don'ts when dealing with the situation.
As elected officials in New Jersey complicate the topic of anti-bullying by battling over legislation and who has to pay for it, we should remind ourselves that sometimes there are solutions to problems that can be found much more easily than others.
As director of Harbor Hills Day Camp, one of New Jersey’s leading summer day camps for children and teens, I have seen my fair share of bullying incidents. While we have a talented and competent staff of counselors who are trained to handle the issue as it happens, correcting the behavior ultimately comes down to how a child’s parents react to the situation.
For the past decade, I have seen several hundred children come walking through our doors each summer. Ultimately, this means that I have observed hundreds, if not thousands, of parents and how they respond to certain situations. In the case of bullying, I have seen parents be strategic and intentional in their intervention, and I have seen parents overreact and exacerbate the situation.
If you notice that your child is exhibiting signs of being bullied, or has come right out and told you of specific instances, here are some do’s and don’ts to remember when dealing with the situation:
- Normalize the situation – let your child know that it happens to the best of us.
- Listen carefully to what your child tells you, mirroring back what you hear and not reacting or judging what your child is sharing.
- Comfort, empathize and soothe your child.
- Engage in empowering your child by brainstorming possible solutions to the problem.
- If your child is having trouble making and maintaining friendships, build your child’s self-esteem by helping him/her become more competent in a skill (sports, music art, etc.).
- Role-play and practice various scenarios for dealing with your child’s bully (practice things such as an ‘emotional shrug’ or walking away from situations).
- Be vigilant of the situation and if you feel it has gotten out of hand, notify teachers, principals and other relevant adults.
- Teach your child that there is no shame in asking for help.
- Do not reprimand your child for admitting that he or she has been bullied.
- Do not place blame or judgment on your child for being bullied.
- Do not encourage bad behavior or retribution.
- You may want to notify the aggressor’s parents about the situation, but do not analyze their child’s behavior or use derogatory names to describe the child.
As parents, we cannot create a perfect world for our children, but we can help them make sense of what goes on. Help your child digest the situation and understand what is happening. Most importantly, remember that there are no problems, only solutions!
Harbor Hills Day Camp
75 Doby Road
Mendham, NJ 07945