If you have ever seen the movie “Back to the Future,” you know that fictional character Biff Tannen was well known as the town bully. Poor George McFly suffered the wrath of Biff’s bullying and mean ways throughout the films. Unfortunately, however, bullying isn’t just a thing in the movies. It has been a problem and a concern for parents for generations, but it is only in recent years that the impacts of bullying have truly been understood.
Preventing bullying starts at home.
Though schools play a significant role in preventing bullying, the most critical prevention steps and measures occur right at home. Parents can help teach their children how to deal with bullies, and they can help their children manage any stress related to bullying situations. If your child has been the subject of in-school or neighborhood bullying, it is essential to know that there are ways parents can help their students deal with it.
1. Preventing bullying requires open communication between parent and child.
Parents who practice open communication with their child will help provide the much-needed support that their child needs. Parents should regularly encourage their children to tell them about any bullying and for children to share their concerns and experiences with bullying with the teacher, school counselors, and school administrators as appropriate. Further, parents should communicate with school officials so that the bully’s parents can be looped in. Kids who have the freedom to name and share their emotions positively will come out stronger than those who hide or live in fear.
2. Responding to bullying starts by walking away.
In addition to talking openly about bullying, parents can help teach their children how to respond appropriately. Responding to bullying is not about fighting back; instead, it is about walking away, telling the bully to “stop,” and taking the time to cool off before engaging in a fight response. After the bullying incident occurs, children should tell their friends, parents, or trusted adults. Children should not be expected to manage it on their own.
3. Children can and should develop confidence.
Confident children, in other words, those who know that they are valuable and loved, tend to handle bullying situations better than those who do not have a supportive or loving home or who have not been taught that they are strong and valuable. Parents should instill confidence in their children, show them how to make wise decisions, and understand the difference between right and wrong.
4. Parents can reinforce the appropriate responses to bullying.
As children share their experiences with bullying, parents can further assist by praising children for all reasonable attempts and successes in dealing with them. This means that parents can and should reinforce when their children have followed the best methods in responding to bullying. It also means that constructive reinforcement can be given when their child could have made a wiser decision. However, by no means should a parent negatively discipline a child to respond to bullying, as this can backfire and make a bad situation even worse.
5. Help children make positive friendships.
Your child interacts with many kids during their school years, but not all of these kids make great friends. The best of friends will stand up for each other during a confrontation or bullying situation. This doesn’t mean, however, that a best friend should take a punch, throw a punch, or exercise any other violence. It does, however, mean that the right friends will help their bullied friend know when to walk away and when to loop in a trusted adult or parent.
6. Stress from bullying can have negative consequences on your child’s overall health.
Bullying creates serious stress on a child and, as one can imagine, can have severe consequences for the child’s overall health. Stress can cause difficulty in sleeping, anxiety, trouble concentrating at school, and even bruxism (teeth grinding). If your child is experiencing teeth clenching or teeth grinding at night, a night guard can help to reduce the tension and protect the teeth. In addition to managing bruxism, there are other things you can do to help manage stress in kids, especially if the stress has been brought on by bullying. Practicing open communication, encouraging self-care, and teaching your child some relaxation techniques are just a few.
Valley Dental Clinic can help your child with bruxism brought on by the stress of bullying.
If your child is having trouble sleeping or clenching their teeth at night, parents should know that a night guard can be tremendously helpful. Not only will a night guard help protect your child’s teeth and jaw, but it can help them get a better night’s sleep as well. Though treating your child’s bruxism isn’t the only thing that needs to happen to help your child deal with stress, it is a critical component. If you believe that a night guard will help your child get a better night’s sleep, be sure to request an appointment. The Valley Dental Clinic team is ready to show you why we are an excellent family dentist near Anchorage, Alaska.