Practical Tips to Bully-Proof Your Children at School

By Madz G. Barcelona

Face-to-face classes have started.  Who knows if your child is being bullied in school?

Bullying can exist in many forms: it can be physical (pushing, punching, or hitting), verbal (name-calling or threats), psychological, or emotional (spreading rumors or excluding someone from a conversation or activity).

Let’s learn how some of our colleagues guide their children in dealing with bullies.

Atty. Cris Funelas, Asst. Vice President, Corporate Legal Services & Special Projects, has three children – two boys and one girl. Her eldest, who is a boy, is 17 years old (Grade 12). Her only daughter is 16 (Grade 11), and her youngest is 14 (Grade 9).

When asked how she explains to their kids what bullying is, she replied, “I recall in their elementary years that this was a topic taught in school. There were programs on what bullying is. So, I know that they know what a bully is.  “I do not recall ever specifically discussing with them what bullying is. But I remember listening to them when they feel offended and hurt by someone in school. We discuss what happened and what they should have done. If they are offended and hurt by someone without any reason but purely to display power over them, I talk to the teacher/adviser. This is when they know that I have their backs when it comes to bullying. I have three children in one school then and I think they have supported each other when it comes to bullies.  I recall one instance when my daughter, who was then in Grade 4, went to the Discipline Office because a Grade 5 pupil stomped on her sand drawings at the school playground. She bravely complained and told the teacher that she was being bullied. The school had a good response and called the Grade 5 pupil the next day to ask him to say sorry. He said sorry and did not think it was bullying. The school handled that well because there was immediate action, and the children understood their actions, especially the Grade 5 pupils. For my daughter, she felt that there was a response and support.”

Atty. Cris shared she had a lot of experience with bullies, especially with her eldest. She made sure that she always listened to her eldest every day. “The key is the uwian. You can catch the moods of your children when you fetch them from school. They may be irritated, happy, talkative, hungry, and sometimes, sad. Therefore I made it a point to be their tagasundo. It is during these times that I sense whether there is a problem in school. A parent can always sense it. Especially mothers. You just must up your antenna to know.”

“When they are bothered or sad, and you are there at that perfect moment, they will speak to you. And then you can guide them on how they should deal with the problem. If it is a bully, I let them talk and ask what happened and check what they did, if any, to trigger such a reaction from their classmate. I always look at the situation from a holistic view. This is just to allow my children to also self-examine without making them feel guilty. Because it is also possible that the other child was offended by my child. However, when I sense that my child is really hurt, and knowing that they did not do anything bad, I tell them that I will talk to the teacher next day to know what happened. I do not talk to the co-parent but to the teacher to avoid misunderstandings. My mom said that it is important that the feelings of my child are addressed immediately. So, I make it a point to discuss it with the teacher the next day or as soon as possible, After that, I tell my child that the teacher will take some steps and that he/she should not be afraid to tell the teacher. This is important.” she added.

Atty. Cris also teaches her kids self-defense, saying, “while I do not encourage violence, I also tell my children that If push comes to shove, they should not allow themselves to be hurt. They can always fight back if necessary to protect themselves and I will be their lawyer.”

She also tells her children that bullies are sad people. She thinks this has an effect because her children do not feel victimized but instead feel pity for the bully.

Here are Atty. Cris’ personal tips to bully-proof your kids:

  1. Encourage your children to speak out and make sure that when they do, you are there to listen.
  2. Build self-confidence. Don’t make them stoop to the level of the bully by encouraging them to use unnecessary violence. However, tell them as well that they should defend themselves, but they should not be on the offense.
  3. If your child is the bully, talk to him/her and determine why he/she is doing it. You may need to also seek professional assistance – for yourself and for your child. Do not be ashamed to do this. There is always an advice that can change the way you deal with your child.Seek the help of the class adviser or the guidance office of your child’s school. They can monitor the children when they are in school. And ask for feedback when you notice that something happened. This should be immediate. Do not allow days to pass by without addressing it.  
  4. Always be on the lookout for a change in behavior. Be ready to talk to them without being pushy. Do not disregard their feelings and say that it was their fault and that they should just fight back. Just listen and understand how they are feeling.

Lastly, she mentioned, “Connect with your children during their sad moments to guide them to sort out their feelings. And make them hear that you will always be their lawyer who will fight fairly on their behalf.”

Ms. Tere Dorado, Senior Manager, HR Shared Services, has two children. Her eldest boy is 11 years old, and in grade 6.  Her daughter is 5 years old, and in kindergarten.

She explained to her kids what bullying is whenever they watch TV programs or videos together, she asks them how they feel or what they think about the scenarios that involve bullying.  She does the same if they are telling stories about their friends or classmates or about their school activities.   She gives affirmations if the way they feel or think is appropriate, otherwise, she must correct them instantly. She tells them that bullying happens in different forms like verbal bullying (taunting, teasing, name-calling), physical bullying (hitting, taking, or breaking someone’s things), and social bullying (embarrassing, spreading rumors, or telling others not to be friends with someone).  She also tells them that bullying can happen anywhere, either in school, in the playground, or even in the neighborhood and on social media. She also added, “Bullying often comes from a mindset that it is okay to act and behave that way, and no one is correcting them.  Sometimes, the children who bully don’t even know that what they are doing is bullying behavior, or they are not aware how much hurt and anxiety they cause.”

When asked how she guides her kids in dealing with bullies, Ms. Tere explains, “I always tell my kids to let me know or their teacher if there are instances that they are not comfortable with. If somebody bullies them in school, don’t fight with the bully kid/s.  They should immediately call the attention or inform their teacher about it and let me know once they are home.  Bullying is bad and harmful, and they should not allow it to happen to them or to other children.  If they will not report it, surely, the other kids will keep on doing it. Bullying is not their fault, it’s the bully child/ren who has a problem; thus, they should not be afraid reporting it.  Moreover, if they witness any bullying, they should report it as well.”

Here are Ms. Tere’s personal tips to bully-proof your kids:

  1. Always initiate talks with the kids and ask open-ended questions about their day or activities.  Let them feel comfortable sharing
  2. Listen to them diligently and ensure to act on their sharing, if necessary.
  3. Pay attention to their emotional needs, vulnerabilities, and tendencies.
  4. Observe non-verbal cues or body language.  If you suspect a problem or if your child has vocalized a problem, press for more details.
  5. Establish open communication with their teachers and always inquire about your child’s progress and well-being in school
  6. Connect with the parents of your child’s classmates.  Oftentimes, children tell stories to their parents about their classmates.  If you have a good relationship with the other parents, they will let you know if they think that your child is being bullied.
  7. At an early age, do not allow the kids to post any message or picture on their social media accounts without the parents/guardians checking it first
  8. Practice role-playing “what if” scenarios to prepare the kids on what to do in case somebody tries to bully them and to speak up for themselves.

Ms. Leslie Lorenzo, Senior Manager, Accounting Department, has two children.  Her eldest who is a boy is 19 years old, and in 2nd Year College.  Her daughter is 16 years old, in grade 11.

She explains to her children when they were younger that other kids might call them names or tease them, get or hide their things or even get their “baon”.  She told her kids that if ever they will encounter bullies in school, they should immediately tell their teachers because she did not want them to hurt others physically. Their teachers are the most qualified persons to handle those kids.

Ms. Leslie mentioned, “Kids should feel that they are loved, and they should have the confidence to face other kids. The tendency of bully kids is to target those kids who show that they are weak. Our kids should be friendly enough but also know when they are being abused.”

Ms. Elaine Madrid, Toll Operations Manager has two children. Her eldest girl is 15 years old and in grade 9.  Her son is 11 years old, and in grade 6.

She explains to her kids that bullying happens when someone is doing something that is not right to them.  She guides her kids and tells them to be kind and friendly with everyone and if ever they encounter bullying kids, they must share it with her and inform their teacher too. Her

Her personal tips are she takes time to talk to her kids and asks how they are at school. She lets them share what activities they do with their classmates, and she knows their friends.

Ms. Geraldine Mangali, Business Process Excellence Senior Specialist, has two children. Her eldest is already 15 years old while her youngest is 6 years old. One is in 9th Grade and the other one is in 1st Grade.

She explains to her kids that bullying is something that some people do when they purposely and intentionally hurt others either through their actions or words. She also makes them understand the difference between teasing from bullying wherein it becomes bullying when it becomes hurtful.

When asked how she guides her kids to deal with bullies, she answered, “I guide my kids in dealing with bullies by practicing at home the importance of speaking and by encouraging them to be vulnerable. Also, by expressing gentleness in dealing with different problems and emotions that they encounter, making myself safe enough for them to open with no judgment.

“One of my important and major tips to bully-proof your kids are by having a loving, safe, and open relationship with them and reassuring them that they can confide with us, their parents. Another is by giving them the confidence to speak up, and lastly, by educating them,” she added.

Mr. Gibson Repomanta, Pipeline Project Manager, has two children. His daughter is 10 years old and in Grade 5 and his son is two years old.

He cites examples to his daughter so he may effectively explain what bullying is. He explains the feelings of being bullied and that it is a bad attitude.

Gibson shares, “Dealing with bullies will depend on the location and situation. In school, I reminded my daughter to approach her teacher if she is being bullied. In our community, they can approach us (parents) so that we are the ones to deal with bullies or talk to their parents. I will educate them on what bullying is and teach them not to bully”.

Here are his personal tips to bully-proof your kids:

  1. Talk to your kids often about their friends and classmates. Encourage them to talk openly.
  2. Educate them about bullying. Mindset them to respect others so that others will observe good behavior and pick up this as a good habit.
  3. They choose the proper words in dealing with others.
  4. You set an example. What they observe might be imitated by your kids.
  5. In case they are bullied, teach them to walk away and don’t react.
  6. They should choose carefully the people who surround them.
  7. Ask for help depending on location and situation. Speak to us (parents), teachers, and any adult that they trust.
  8. Boost their confidence and bullying must be reported.

Let us always remember, a child that can stand up to bullying can stand up to anything.

Madz G. Barcelona, Human Resources and Administration. She considers herself as a team player who brings out the best in every person. She enjoys organizing things to make them simpler and better. Madz always gives her best in serving others especially her loved ones.

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