How can parents help kids cope with bully?
Ryan is a 13 year old boy who struggles with his academic and physical disabilities. He has speech, language and motor skills development problems which led him to receiving special education services from preschool till primary school. This problem made him the regular target of a particular bully at school. One day, a fight between Ryan and the bully ended the harassment and this led to a made-up friendship. The two began communicating online regularly via Facebook. However, after a while, the ex-bully began saying he didn’t want to be friends anymore, and he posted unpleasant messages on the social media. The messages became harsher when the bully concluded by telling Ryan, “The world would be a better place without you.”
Ryan’s father, Aidan, grew up with Zain in a small town in Pahang. He was one of a number of boys who would mercilessly bully Zain. One day, Ryan was talking with Aidan. Ryan asked his father if he has ever bullied anyone and sadly, Aidan said “yes” and told his story. Ryan then shared his problems. Aidan’s advice to his son, “Son, it’s not your fault. Bullying says more about the bully than the victim. You are not alone Ryan, a lot of people get bullied at some point. We will figure out what to do together”.
Aidan then posted an apology message to Zain in his Facebook:
Hi Zain! I was recently discussing with my teenage son about bullies. He asked me if I ever bullied anyone and sadly I had to say “yes”. What came to mind is how mean I was to you when we were in school. I want to say sorry. If we lived in the same state I would apologize to you face to face. I don’t even know if you can remember what I did to you, but I do and I am truly sorry.
Surprisingly, Aidan received a reply from Zain:
I’m quite moved by this. Thank you and I accept your apology. In 25 years you are the only person to apologize for being a bully to me when we were younger. I hope you can proudly tell your son that you have also apologized for it, and that we are good. It’s amazing what 25 years and children can do to us. Thank you again, and I hope you stand up to bullying anytime you see it. Have a good day! – Zain
Ways to help your kids deal with bully:
- Discuss about bullying with your kids and offer support. Consult with the school’s principal and teachers to address the situation.
- Tell your kids not to be alone, especially where bullies may hang out.
- Encourage your kids not to bring money or expensive devices that may attract bullies.
- If faced with a bully, tell your child to keep calm, ignore painful remarks and walk away.
- Discuss the issue with the bully’s parents in school with the presence of teachers, principal and counsellor. Try not to take matters into your own hands.
- Keep a close watch on your children and not depend on schools to ensure their safety and psychological well-being.