Many kids will encounter cyberbullying at one time or another, and one group which may be inordinately targeted by cyberbullies is those who have recently moved to a new hometown. It is imperative that recently-located parents take ample time to instill in their children strong skills through even stronger communication.
Family Communication is Key!
The Virginia Cooperative Extension highlights the incalculable value of communication within the family, as these verbal and nonverbal ways in which families exchange information serve as the building blocks for a child’s ability to socialize outside of the home. Mental health website Healthy Place explains that effective listening – an integral aspect of good communication – boosts self-esteem, as it establishes positive behaviors that engender a child to their peers.
For a child new to a town and school, the first impression he or she makes can be crucially important
to avoiding ostracism. Displaying positive communication skills, and therefore a sense of confidence, will allow that child to quickly establish him or herself as a student not to be trifled with.
Bullies, particularly the kind that hide behind online anonymity, feed on those who they suspect will be most affected by their harsh words, rumor-spreading, and general vitriol. If a child is unable to communicate effectively, the bully will continually pick on that child with impunity. The ability to respond maturely and confidently to the bully arises from true communication skills, which must first be taught in the home. Creating a stress-free home environment is also important for the overall well-being of the child.
Edutopia provides a guide to teaching communication skills to students, a set of tips which also can be utilized by parents who may be unsure of how well they are fostering good communication in the household. Behaviors such as strong eye-contact often project strength and confidence, two traits that ward off bullies. After all, bullies often have greater insecurity than their victims, and the prospect of somebody more confident than they is often repellent.
Parents who promote genuine communication will find that their children take the time, even if the parents must insist, to share their thoughts and experiences, both good and bad. This can be invaluable in a case where the child has been bullied and requires a parent’s advice to solve the problem.
If Bullying Arises…
While government-backed sites such as Stop Bullying provide examples of how children can fight back against bullies, not as many resources exist for parents. The dilemma of who to approach, call, or yell at can quickly present itself when a parent finds out their child has been on the receiving end of cyberbullying.
Parents who have moved to a new town may lack the social network to feel comfortable calling the parent of a bully to inform them of the problem. Still, they should call, as many parents are sympathetic to the plight of bullying targets and often are the most effective source to cease the bullying.
If this does not work or is simply not feasible, contacting school administrators – preferably with evidence of bullying in hand – is the next best step. It is also crucially important to continue informing the child that the bully is taking out his own insecurities, and that he or she is a well-liked, worthy person who must block out the negativity.
Parenting encompasses a number of responsibilities, and preparing a child to face bullies is a very important one. The ability to fend for oneself is rooted in a child’s personality and ability to communicate emotions, ideas, or other verbal cues aimed at shutting a bully down in a public forum. The key to establishing a child’s verbal and emotional self-defense mechanisms lies in consistent, uncompromising dedication to family communication. This will allow a child to develop genuine self-confidence and also the know-how to avoid persistent victimization.
About Daniel Sherwin: Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.