In the challenging sphere of parenthood, observing the ruthless side of children, particularly when it’s targeted at our own, can be a sobering experience. But it’s inspiring to see your proactive approach, questioning how do I help my child learn how to stand up for themselves? This indicates your willingness to shape positive peer interactions early on. Given your child’s tender age, it’s still the perfect window to instigate positive changes, and rest assured, you’re not short of strategies to address this issue.
Understand the Pandemic Issue
For youngsters, the loss of everyday social interactions is a sad side effect of the pandemic. You may be witnessing persistent issues because he has yet to be in a regular setting where he can keep developing these abilities naturally. While online communities have helped many kids keep in touch, they can’t replace face-to-face contact, especially for the youngest kids. This is something to think about while you consider alternative solutions. You should seek out opportunities for him to interact with peers in person when you feel comfortable doing so that he may maintain his real-world practice.
Encourage Your Child to Make Friends
An intriguing aspect of your inquiry is “bullied and hit by his friends.” This is not the sort of thing you’d expect from a friend. Young toddlers have a hard time conceptualizing what friendship entails beyond “we both like Legos,” so you must teach your son the importance of friendship. I know many kids who would never “bully and hit” a friend, so maybe he should switch up his social circle. Maybe he just needs to hang out with a different crowd to gain some self-assurance and see what it’s like to have genuine pals.
Raise Their Level of Assertiveness
If you’re still worried about your son “learning to protect himself,” training children in assertiveness should be your first defense against bullying. The difference between being forceful and being aggressive is crucial. Being assertive implies speaking up for oneself, whereas being aggressive means intentionally harming another person. These are the foundational components of assertiveness:
- If a youngster is abusive, tell them to “Stop calling me those names.”
- In order to get what you want, start with an “I” statement like, “I don’t like when you tease me like that.”
- Leave if the rude behavior persists.
Teaching children to be more assertive helps them do so across the board, not just in challenging circumstances. It’s possible that your son needs to practice speaking up in social situations in general so that he may gain the confidence he needs to handle the more trying, unfavorable exchanges. This can take the form of him voicing his thoughts and feelings, expressing his desires and needs, and asserting his autonomy by saying “no” when he does not want to participate in a certain activity.
Learn the Dangers of Bullying
What might be leaving your son open to these hostile interactions is another essential factor to think about in his position. This in no way holds him responsible for the actions of others, but we do know that certain traits, such as lack of confidence and passivity, make some children more susceptible to bullying. The Boston Children’s Hospital has compiled this helpful guide about bullying for those who want to learn more.
Communicate with the Institution
Your son is just starting out in elementary school, a time when both his social skills and the dynamics of his friendships are fast evolving. In this formative stage of development, the interactions he experiences now lay the groundwork for the years to come; therefore, the more positive they can be, the better for him. Given the importance of this matter, it may be worthwhile to contact the school’s support staff if your parent coaching does not have the desired effect (this is typical as children reach primary school age).
Bullying studies have shown that modifying school and community culture is more effective than focusing on individual behavior change in reducing bullying. Get in touch with the school to find out whether they offer a social and emotional learning program (most schools do these days) and who would be a suitable point person to keep an eye on your son and provide him with extra support if needed.
Give Appropriate Helping Hands
Children who are having difficulties interacting with others may benefit greatly from participating in a social skills group. Again, you can find these at many different schools or see what else is out there. If you’re looking for a group that focuses on “social skills,” be sure it emphasizes confidence and the ability to make and keep friends.
Finally, you could have your kid examined by a child mental health specialist if these interventions aren’t helpful enough or if you feel he could benefit from additional support. Even though depression in children this age is less common, it does occur, and poor peer interactions can both cause and worsen a child’s low self-esteem. Individual therapy is the most effective method for addressing underlying emotional and self-esteem issues that may be contributing to social difficulties.
Despite our beliefs that children should learn social skills independently, adult instruction and assistance is often necessary, especially when children are being bullied. Your son’s age gives him plenty of opportunities to develop the characteristics that will help him make and keep good mates. He also benefits greatly from having attentive and caring parents who are interested in guiding him through this challenging period so that he can learn to advocate for himself, take care of himself, and thrive socially.
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