Bullying, a pervasive issue often observed in school settings, is a concern that no parent, caregiver, or guardian takes lightly. But what exactly constitutes bullying, and how can we, as adults, effectively address and empower our children when faced with this distressing experience?
Bullying is defined as the deliberate and persistent misuse of power through repeated verbal, physical, social, or online behaviors with the intent to harm. While a solitary negative encounter may not meet the criteria for bullying, it can still be emotionally challenging and warrant professional or personal support. On the other hand, when a child experiences a pattern of repetitive interactions as a victim of bullying, it necessitates immediate intervention, thoughtful processing, and collective attention from all facets of a child’s life.
According to St. Petersburg child therapist Juli Hindsley, the first crucial step in assisting a bullied child is to believe them unequivocally. Hindsley emphasizes, “It’s essential to resist the urge to immediately ‘fix’ the situation. Instead, validate your child’s experience and assure them that they are safe and brave for sharing their feelings with you.”
To gain a comprehensive understanding of your child’s experience, Hindsley recommends asking specific questions such as where the incidents occurred, the duration of the bullying, whether it took place online or in person, whether other adults are aware of the situation, and whether the person responsible for the bullying poses any danger. For older children, involving them in decision-making can be empowering. You might ask them about their preferences for the next steps, including whether they want you to speak with a teacher or counselor at school, if they would like to engage with a therapist, and what safety measures, both in-person and online, should be implemented during this period.
Hindsley emphasizes the importance of open communication and collaboration, saying, “Your child has entrusted you with sensitive information, so it’s vital to avoid jumping to conclusions or rushing into actions that could disrupt the safe space you’ve cultivated together.”
Rebuilding self-confidence is often the most challenging aspect for a child affected by bullying. Daily affirmation exercises can provide an accessible and effective starting point. However, many children can greatly benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapeutic approach that equips them with valuable coping skills and bolsters their self-esteem.
At Child & Family Therapy Center, we understand the profound impact bullying can have on children and their families. Our experienced therapists offer support and guidance to empower your child to navigate this challenging experience. If you are seeking additional resources or St. Petersburg children’s counseling services, please don’t hesitate to visit our Contact page. Your child’s emotional well-being is our utmost priority, and we are here to assist you every step of the way.