Written by Karli Steenkamp
As parents, we need different skills for different roles and stages in our children’s lives. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual and when our children go through trying times, we want to fight their battles for them and deal with anyone that does them harm. The sad reality is that we need to teach our kids to be tough and stand up for themselves. Every child is going to encounter peer pressure or bullying at some point in their lives. Bullying affects about 27 % of Australian kids according to the National Centre Against Bullying. It is important to identify what is peer pressure and bullying and how as parents to deal with it when our kids experience this and how to guide our children through it.
Peer Pressure and Bullying, there is a very fine difference between these two terms. It is necessary to know the difference as each one can be dealt with differently.
Peer pressure is when you are influenced by others to do something that you normally wouldn’t do. This is because you either feel pressured to do so or have a need to fit in with your peers. Peer pressure can be positive or negative. Sometimes your child is surrounded by learners that have a positive influence on them, like studying or doing nice acts for others or volunteering. Other times it can be negative, like smoking, drinking or disobeying rules.
Bullying is a repeated act of someone misusing their power over someone and making them feel powerless. There are different types of bullying. These are social, physical and verbal bullying.
- Social bullying is when someone purposefully excludes someone from an activity or sends images that can harm someone’s reputation; cyber bullying can also fall under this type.
- Physical bullying is hitting, shoving and even stealing from someone.
- Last but not least is Verbal bullying is name calling or insulting someone.
It is important to remember that bullying is an ongoing act and no form of it is okay.
Signs That Your Child Is Being Bullied
As a parent, you need to be aware of signs that your child might be bullied or struggles under peer pressure. You need to have an open relationship with your child. Ask him or her how the school day has been and what they did and who they hang out with. If you are concerned about your child’s friends, invite them over to your house for a play date to get to know them. Usually children that are being bullied will withdraw themselves from activities that he or she usually loved. They can become quiet and hide away. When they start talking about not being worthwhile, then there is a serious cause for concern.
How to deal with peer pressure and bullying
It is important to let your child know that it is okay to say no. If you don’t want to do something, say no. You don’t always have to be liked and it can be worthwhile to find friends that share their beliefs. Peer pressure in many cases has to do with self confidence. Children with high self esteem are less likely to succumb to peer-pressure.
Your first instinct as a parent will probably be that you want to go to school and speak to the teachers or the child’s parents of the bully. However sometimes that can make a situation worse and then your child can be teased. It can work, but then there might be another bully down the line and what do you do then. Rather teach your child skills to deal with bullies themselves. Teach your child that everyone is unique and special in their own way. If they are being teased about how they look and act, let them also laugh with the bully. As soon as a bully loses its power over someone they will stop. It is not fun anymore.
Obviously, there are situations which get worse and then it is necessary to seek help. There are many websites that can give you as a parent, advice.
Growing up can be hard. Have a transparent relationship with your child so that your child has the freedom to speak to you about anything. Make time for your child to ensure that you are aware what your child is going through. Be interested in the school and activities. The more you as a parent know the more you will see the important signs and issues can be addressed early on. There are websites you can go on that will give you advice on what to do, if your child is bullied. With lots of love and care from you, your child will get through this.
National Centre Against Bullying, Reach out.com, Bullying No way!