By OICA CEO Joe Dorman

It is almost time for more than 700,000 children in Oklahoma to return to school!  With the return of the school year, anxiety can run high, sometimes leading to some traumatic issues.  One of the most stressful situations children face is how to deal with bullying.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some good suggestions on how to deal with bullying issues. Bullying, or the modern form of cyberbullying, is when one child or more picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school or on a school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or on computers and smart phones.

When your child is bullied, it is best to alert school officials to the problems and work with them for solutions.  You should teach your child how and when to ask a trusted adult for help. It is important to recognize the serious nature of bullying and acknowledge your child’s feelings about being bullied. This will likely be one of the most traumatic situations they will face in their young life, so do not take the situation lightly even if it seems minor to you.  Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to look a bully in the eye, stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation, and walk away without increasing the likelihood of violent actions.

Other tips on how to help overcome situations should include encouraging your child to make friends with other children and supporting activities that interest your child. As a parent, being an active part of your child’s life will play a significant part in his or her social development.

If the situation appears to be more than a one-time event, make sure an adult at school who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there. It is also important to monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.

Sometimes the bullying situation comes from the opposite perspective and it might be your child who is the bully.  If this is the case, be sure your child knows that bullying is never okay.  Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior. You should also be a positive role model and show the child they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.  It is also recommended to use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges in a situation, and to develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, school social workers or psychologists, and parents of the children your child has bullied.

If your child observes bullying, encourage them to tell a trusted adult about the bullying. You should also encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop. The best scenario is for children to help support other children who may be bullied. Encourage your child to include these children in activities as this will often reduce the likelihood of bullying.

As adults, we can play a significant part in reducing bullying.  Hopefully these tips can help improve the lives of the children close to you.

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