The Family Project: Daughter is bullied
Q. My daughter is only seven-years-old and she is already being bullied. I thought that kids didn’t start this until middle school. She is being teased on the bus for everything from her backpack to her clothes. Almost every day she comes home crying, and now she does not want to ride the bus anymore. What can I do to help her stand up for herself?
The panelists began with some questions of their own.
Erin Stalsitz asked what the mother has done to address the bullying. “We also need to get a clearer picture of the type of bullying and teasing that is involved,” Stalsitz said.
“Is the bullying only happening on the bus?” panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo asked.
Because a school bus is involved, panelist Pam Wallace said the proper school official should be notified. “Teachers need to be aware of the situation, and a counselor should bring the students who are involved together to have a discussion,” said Wallace.
A guidance counselor has the tools to help the daughter, said Stalsitz, who noted that the daughter might not be the only one who is being bullied.
Addressing ways to help the daughter defend herself against bullying, panelist Denise Continenza suggested that the mother work with the girl to develop positive responses to the teasing. For example, the girl could say, “I really like my backpack. Don’t you wish you had one like it?”
Wallace said that bullying behavior often comes from a person who doesn’t feel good about himself or herself, or from someone who may be jealous. Sharing this with the daughter might help her take the teasing less seriously.
When the child being bullied starts to cry or act out, Continenza said the child is giving the bullies what they want. “The mother and the guidance counselor could teach the child more effective reactions to the bullying.”
Other suggestions were to ask to have the daughter’s assigned bus seat changed, or to give the girl an option of not riding the bus for a few weeks while the mother helps her daughter build up her self-esteem.
One way to do this, Continenza said, would be for the mom to create opportunities at home to give the daughter a pat on the back.
Wallace suggested getting the girl involved in sports or a school extracurricular or community activity that she is good at so that she receives positive feedback from others and makes new friends.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, educator and former school administrator; Denise Continenza, extension educator, Penn State Extension, and Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh County Children and Youth Casework Supervisor.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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