As summer is approaching fast, you have probably started to plan activities for your kids. Some kids will go to camp (click here for a comprehensive list of local summer camps), others may have summer jobs or summer school. It’s important that even during summer activities, we’re aware of any potential bullying situations.
When kids are no longer in a school environment for the summer, most kids hope that they will be safe from bullying. Whether they are attending summer camp or any other activities, it is the hope that kids will have less overall stress on them during the summer and not have the day-to-day routine or worries.
However, if your child is still around a peer group, we want to make sure that they are able to have positive friendships.
What can you do if your child is being bullied at any outside activity during the summer?
Ask what’s going on.
The first thing to do is to speak directly to your child and determine if this is truly bullying. Bullying is a situation where a peer is repeatedly having power over someone else. It is important for the parent to allow their child to tell them how much bullying may be going on and the extent of this. The easiest way to address bullying is to ask the open-ended questions allowing them to say that there is bullying going on. For example, you could say “When I dropped you off today, I saw someone pushing you. I’m wondering if this is a regular occurrence or happened only this one time.” This is an open-ended question that allows you to hopefully learn more about whether your child is being bullied.
Address bullying with the 3 E’s.
If your child admits that there is bullying. it is important to help them come up with a plan of action using the idea of the Three E’s: Empathy, Empowerment and Engagement.
Empathy is asking them to tell you how they feel. It is working to truly understand the perspective of how your child may feel. “I am wondering if you are feeling embarrassed.” Please let your child tell you how they are feeling, given this is summer and they are still experiencing some of the same behavior from others.
Empowerment is giving them the power to come up with a plan of action for how to address the bullying. What would they like to do? Talk to the other peers themselves, find better coping strategies, or ask from assistance from the summer staff at their activity? It is important that you as the parent empower your child to decide how they want to handle the situation, assuming there is not true danger for your child.
Engagement is the follow-up of the plan and making sure that the bullying stops. It is important as the parent to let your child know that even at a fun summer activity it is never ok for any other peer to bully them.
Keep your eyes open.
When you have put the 3 E’s in action, it is important to follow up and continue to check in. In the same way, if your child does not feel that there’s bullying going on or is not open to discussing it, it is important as the parent that you continue to watch and check in to make sure there is not any continued pattern of behavior.
As parents, we hope when we send kids to summer activities that this is a time of enjoyment for all. A break with freedom from pressures at school. However, there are times where bullying behavior can still happen and it is important to utilize the Three E’s to handle any bullying that may arise.
Please feel free to contact Danielle Matthew at the Empowerment Space if you’re concerned that your child is being bullied: (818) 267-4282. You can also learn more about the Empowerment Space program at www.empowerment.space.