Daddy Directions - How to Help Kids Deal With Online Bullies
One of the most complicated parenting duties for me as a father was dealing with online bullying where my kids were concerned. Not only did I have the problem itself, but I also had a learning curve as far as social media and the modern teenager. My kids only had minor problems with it, but I dove into the problem as though it were major. I know how things can quickly and decidedly escalate in this type of social arena.
That said, here are the tips I came up with from a Daddy’s point of view:
Be Present from Day One
It is really common sense, but many parents never seem to make the connection. The biggest thing we can do is be there for any problem a teenager or child might experience. That means, being there to talk to, being there to hug and yes….being there on social media.
If you commit to being around on their social media accounts from the start, that will be the norm. This will not stop all bullying by any means, but it will stop some. There will be the occasional situation where a bully sees your presence and decides to move on to someone easier. Be present in every way for your kid.
Build Trust and Make Them Accountable First
Explain right up front that there are rules to their social media use and that you will be occasionally enforcing and double checking. This is a good thing for you both.
Here are the basics:
* Commit to never looking at private messages unless you announce you are doing so. No sneak attacks unless you have a very good reason to do so. This way they can have a reasonable amount of privacy.
* Explain to them that you will do occasional spot checks to make sure they are doing the right thing. This is the price for privacy and trust. Again, you will always let them know you are doing it.
* Make sure they understand that if they would not want mom and dad to see it, they should not be posting it….period. If they do anyway, that will be on them.
As for the bullies, this trust will allow you to stay informed and not be totally on the outside looking in. Never step in unless your kid is totally aware. This can lead to major escalation and should only be done when there is little else to try.
Keep the Computer Out Front
This is a simple step that will mitigate at least a little bit of what should not be happening. They are much less likely to post things they shouldn’t if you could be standing there watching.
Another good thing about a public computer is that you will often see when something upsets your child. Knowledge is power folks and knowing your kid is sad and not knowing why is still infinitely better than not knowing anything. Take every tiny advantage you can.
Don’t be Afraid to Make Some Noise
Many times parents are afraid to go to the school, go to parents or stand up for themselves and their kid because they are afraid of retaliation. If the kid is being bullied now, that is the problem you should be worried about. Bullies like the easy victim… Make bullying your kid difficult for them.
Coach Your Kid on How to Respond
Again, a bully that pesters a kid and gets no response at all is a bully that will eventually get bored. This is not always true, but the vast majority of the time it is. Ignoring a bully is the number one way to disarm them. Take away their fun and they generally move on. Make sure your kid is nice to them and that they “pass right over” the rest of their nonsense. If the bully gets physical, it is time to go to the school, the parents and even the police.