8 Steps To Stop Your Child’s Cyberbully
By Janice Miller
Being the ‘new kid’ seems to invite bullying, and while every school in America claims to enforce a no tolerance policy, parents know all too well that it still happens. What’s more is that as children get older, social media introduces new high-tech ways for kids to cyberbully. If your child has recently transferred schools and attracted the attention of a cyberbully, there are steps you can take to end the digital abuse.
Resist The Urge To Respond Or Retaliate
Responding or arguing with a cyberbully only encourages them to continue. It may be tempting for your child to retaliate, trying to one-up the bully, in which case they will likely set off a chain reaction of hurtful words. Instead, do not engage the cyberbully. Finding that their provocations don’t elicit a reaction may be reason enough for them to stop.
Document The Bullying
If things do escalate and you have to contact the authorities or school officials, you’ll thank yourself for saving and documenting the cyberbullying. Screenshot, save, and print any online altercations and offences. You may never need them, but if you do, you’ll be glad you did.
If there are threats of physical violence, it’s time to enlist the help of the police and school officials, should your child and the cyberbully attend the same school. You can also report any threats to the app or social media service used to make them. If your child feels isolated, a support group for victims of cyberbullying may help him or her connect with new, supportive friends, giving their self-esteem a much-needed boost.
Block The Bully
Blocking the cyberbully on social media may not resolve the situation but it will give your child a reprieve from ongoing attacks. It will also remove the temptation to respond to any further provocation which may make the situation worse.
Keep Passwords Secret
If the bullying involves an ex-friend with access to your child’s social media, it’s time to reset the passwords or consider closing the account and opening a new one. Make sure your child knows the importance of keeping their passwords secret. One tiff between friends can lead to embarrassing or degrading posts in your child’s name.
Be A Teammate
As tempting as it might be to take the reins on stopping your child’s bully, working together is important for success. Not only will your child be able to give you insight into the situation, but, ultimately, letting your child play a part in identifying a solution will empower him or her – something much-needed in the face of degradation. Working with your child also means doing what you can to make sure they have positive interactions on social media in the future.
Approach The Parents
If you and your child have decided that approaching the cyberbully’s parents is necessary, it should be up to our child whether they are in attendance. Bring print-outs of the digital altercations but be prepared for some balking or outright denial. Most parents don’t want to believe that their child is, in fact, bullying someone else but there is also the chance that the parents will step in and end the behavior, or better yet, suspend the bully’s online privileges.
Support Your Child With A Stress-Free, Supportive Home
Dealing with a cyberbully is incredibly stressful for a young adult and your child will need all the support from you he or she can get. Resist adding extra stress to this already turbulent time by being considerate of your child’s moods and feelings. Create a stress-free home environment for your child by being mindful of your tone of voice and avoiding criticism of their failures – even the small ones like forgetting to take out the garbage. Instead, make sure your child knows that they are loved and supported no matter what and if you do find yourself badgering or belittling, stop immediately, apologize, and start a conversation that addresses the underlying cause of your frustration.
Since bullying wears down self-esteem, suggest activities that will challenge your child but grant him or her small victories, which will help rebuild your child’s confidence. Joining a club, taking up music or dance lessons, discovering a new hobby, even caring for a new pet can boost self-confidence.
While every parent hopes that the bullying of their child will be dealt with swiftly and decisively, cyberbullying can be difficult to guard and defend against. Schools and authorities can be less than helpful, chalking it up to typical teenage drama. Enlist help if needed, for you and your child, then remind your child that bullying isn’t forever and they’re not alone.