Red Heads and Teasing / Bullying
The following parenting advice is offered in the hope that it will help adults dealing with this issue.
(You CAN help someone else...Would you share with us YOUR advice about handling teasing?...If so, please just click HERE to go to my "Advice" page.)
-- IF YOUR RED HEAD IS A VICTIM OF TEASING or BULLYING:
This parenting advice is from a book Teasing by L.S. Feinberg as well as other personal experiences.
- Really listen to your child. Acknowledge their feelings of anger, fear, embarrassment, and being out of control. Tell them you’d be scared if happened to you too. Be sure to let them share at their own pace.
- Be supportive. Let the child know others have had this experience too and is not alone -- that you understand (maybe happened to you too when younger). Let the child know you will stick by him to help get through this hard time. Don’t criticize! This was one of the best parenting advice tips for me.
- Adopt a positive attitude. Tell them you are confident the problem will work out successfully to lessen their fears.
- Help them to love themselves.. Point out their talents, assets, good things about them, uniqueness so they have a strong sense of self-love and self-esteem regardless of what others say. Develop good habits and activities to strengthen their self-image like daily exercise, good food choices, good skin care, and hair care.
- Don’t be fooled if the child acts really brave on the outside but is really struggling on the inside.
- Get accurate information from the child about what really happened. Find out who, what, where, when, and why in case the harassment continues and you need to document it.
- Try to determine the problem. Is the child worried about what the bully himself and what he’ll DO to him, or is the child upset about what the bully SAID? Make sure your child knows exactly what the remarks actually mean. Reassure the child these statements are untrue, if applicable. If true what was said (as in really does have ‘red hair’, then turn the statement around in a positive light).
- If your child was insulted by a deliberately mean remark, try to demonstrate positive reinforcement with ‘self-talk’ and say to himself that what the other child said isn’t true and he’s the one with the problem.
- Try to determine how vulnerable your child may be to certain types of teasing.
- Allow your child to do as much of the thinking about the problem and possible solutions. This helps restore some control that was lost during the taunting plus helps self-confidence.
- Many parents tell the child to ignore the matter. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work and the child gets frustrated, so explain to him this may or may not work.
- Advise your child to avoid the teasers as much as possible. He can choose to ‘not play with you right now’ or ask the teacher to change your child’s seat in the classroom or on the bus to diffuse a volatile situation. Discuss the option of walking away from a confrontation if possible.
- Role-play with your child what the bully/teaser said or did and the possible responses and actions. Practice 2 to 3 possible options like a little play so is comfortable with what to say and do. Role-play brief clear commands, said with confidence.
- Discuss the option of talking the matter over with school counselor at school.
- Consider help from the neighborhood with support of older children, parents.
- Emphasize the power of laughter. Can your child laugh at himself? (in a positive way and not putting self down) This will rob the bully of the pleasure of making someone feel bad.
- Teach your child to acquire an air of authority. "I don’t like that. Why did you do that?" Use an assertive voice; then the bully doesn’t succeed in his mission. Tell the child to warn the teaser that if he keeps it up, he will inform teacher. This is not tattling but wisdom to protect himself and other kids.
- Explain to your child why is important to tell the school about behaviors that are dangerous. Again, important parenting advice, given some school environments.
- Help your child understand the motivations of the bully: to humiliate someone and make them feel bad. When a bully acts tough, he gains power and control.
- Remind your young child that other young children are fickle and quickly change their minds. The bully on Monday may be the victim on Tues.
- Encourage your child to make friends at school. Bullies usually direct their comments at loners.
- If the child continues to be a victim of bullying or in other settings, some individual therapy or group sessions may be helpful.
- Make them feel extra special with a personalized gift anytime but especially for birthday, graduation, or celebrations.
(Visit my "Shopping Mall" page and checkout "PersonalCreations.com" with their unique gifts -- I've sent my redheads some of their personalized items and they loved the personal touch, i.e., red hair, their name on it, etc.)
-- WHAT NOT TO DO (for parents):
- Never assume tormenting and bullying is a natural rite of passage – IT ISN’T!
- Don’t unwittingly set their child up for being teased (avoid giving a child a name or nickname that other kids can make fun of)
- Don’t criticize your child or call him a bad name in front of his friends. Correct their behavior in private. (You’d feel that way too!)
- Respect their child’s own taste in clothes. (one of few things they can control)
- Never assume that this taunting is no big deal and their child ought to be able to handle this problem alone. Help the child come up with a plan to combat the taunting and practice it.
- Never assume that physical threats by bullies are empty threats.
- Never encourage children to fight, although it can be a tempting choice or sometimes is just unavoidable and is a matter of self-defense. Unfortunately, physical violence typically escalates. (Differing views on this one!)
- The parents should never confront the child who is bullying their child (or the parents of the bully) but ask for help from the school officials or a third party to resolve the issue.
- Parents should not expect perfect behavior from their children or their friends, especially young children.
-- PARENTS ENCOURAGE BULLYING IN THEIR KIDS BY:(Adapted from book Jay McGraw's Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies.)
- Exercise absolute control over the child
- Threaten the child with spankings or other violence
- Attempt to humiliate or embarrass the child as a way to punish them
- Rule by fear
- Push competition and contest too much
- Teach their child that mistakes are unacceptable
- Tell their child what to say, do, or think
-- IF YOUR CHILD IS BULLYING, TEASING OTHER KIDS:
- Do not be his enabler (who helps him continue the behavior).
- Teach them to bear the responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences of inappropriate behavior.
- If your child is modeling your own bullying behavior, end your own bullying. Maybe you’re not aware that you’re doing it. Family therapy may be needed.
- Parents should avoid leaving their children unsupervised if they have a problem bullying others.
- Don’t enable your children to be bullies by teaching them to feel superior to others, especially because of how we look,
our RED hair color, skin color, religion, sex, or how we act.Hey, let's ENJOY and embrace our differences!
-- WHAT THE COMMUNITY CAN DO:
See what you can do....One person CAN make a difference!
- Get everyone on board.
- Get the entire school to start a program that has zero tolerance for teasing and bullies and make school grounds, busses, etc., a bully-free, teasing-free zone.
- Get parents to meet with school officials, counselors, teachers, staff, and students to implement ideas.
- It takes more than just an assembly or signs. EVERYONE must help.
- School staff and students have to put the words and ideas into action.
- Help teachers, parents, staff discuss how they handle bullying when they see it.
- For students, discuss learning more about kids at your school, especially those who are different. Sometimes a bully picks on a kid just because they are different race, different culture, look different, has learning problem.
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