Mean Girls & Bullying Boys: How Parents Can Help

Bullies of Today

The world of social media is increasing at the speed of light—especially with Facebook, Twitter, iPhones and more! We can’t deny that the new and improved methods of social networking have changed the way we live as adults. We also can’t deny that our children will grow up in a different world than we did, with such huge expansions of social media changing the ways children express and relate to each other.

So many of the ways children and teens communicate today (typing away on the Internet and texting away on their cell phones) don’t involve adult supervision thus making it difficult to monitor for good behavior and treatment of others. Girls and boys can now post mean messages and threats to each other via web pages only their peers can see and never be held accountable. This indirect form of aggression is more likely in girls, who show bullying behaviors in very different ways than boys. Boys may be more likely to demonstrate overt physical aggression, while girls tend to use hurtful words and enforce social hierarchies.

What is a Bully?

“Mean” girls and boys demonstrate underdeveloped empathy skills and compassion for others. Typical demonstrations of what we call “bullying” include, but are not limited to: verbal threats or name-calling, intimidation (that may be reinforced by a group of peers or instigated independently), and physically aggressive behaviors. Aggressive behaviors can range in level of intensity from mild grabbing, pushing or breaking a possession or toy to more severe acts like hitting, kicking, screaming or punching.

The Effects Bullying Has On All Children Involved

Their victims’ self-esteem may be decreasing slowly and eventually may affect all areas of their healthy functioning (academic, social, emotional and family life). The bullies themselves are also suffering in these areas and need support from helpful adults. There is so much you can do at home and in your family to strengthen your child’s ability to cope effectively and prevent some of the social, emotional and behavioral ramifications of facing bullies (or being a bully).

You can help by teaching your child to:

  • Be part of a “Feelings Family” that encourages open expression of emotions, fears, pressures and problems
  • Identify a trusted teacher, counselor or principal that they can talk to in the case of a physical or emotional situation at school
  • Understand the difference between telling and tattling
  • Develop friendships with good hearted children who stick up for each other
  • Exude confidence in many different ways—how they act, what they say, how they hold their posture, etc.
  • Identify their favorite ways to channel stress into physical exercise (ex: after school sports, art, dancing, etc.)
  • Keep their focus on what they can be responsible for (their own positive behaviors and good choices)
  • Develop battle plans for good problem-solving skills
  • Value friends that are respectful, kind, honest and trustworthy
  • Role play and model for your child how you would handle difficult social situations

If your child could benefit from participating in a social group that targets these issues and teaches these skills, please contact NSPT at (847) 486-4140. Our Professionals help children and teens boost their self-esteem and learn how to navigate a sometimes very confusing and stressful social world. Your child can benefit from learning new social, emotional and behavioral skills in either a group or individual setting.

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