Dr. Renee Clauselle, a practicing child psychologist with a private practice in Franklin Square, New York, and Director of School Mental Health Services at St. John’s University, gives tips on how to empower children and adolescents to overcome bullying.
According to Dr. Clauselle, there are certain children who are more likely to be bullied. The character profiles for victims are typically passive or submissive types. These children usually have the following characteristics:
• Cautious, sensitive, quiet, withdrawn and shy
• Are often anxious, insecure, unhappy and have low self-esteem
• May be depressed and/or obsessed with thoughts of suicide much more often than their peers
• Often do not have a single good friend and relate better to adults than to peers
• If they are boys, they may be physically weaker than their peers
• Often kids with learning or attention problems are targeted, especially if the class perceives that the teacher may not like the child
“In order to reduce your child’s chances of being victimized, it is important to help them appear less likely to be an easy target,” Dr. Clauselle said. “Helping your children with the following things — assertiveness training, problem solving, confidence and self-esteem building and resiliency training — can help.”
According to Dr. Clauselle, parents should have open conversations about various social issues with their children before any problems begin. She encourages parents to make these conversations commonplace in the home. This can be done by:
• Role playing different possible scenarios with your child and have them practice being more assertive in their response
• Have your child practice their response in front of a mirror so they are aware of their facial expressions, posture and body language
• Have your child make an audio recording of their voice so they are aware of how they sound to others. Listen with your child: Are their statements strong, believable and firm?
• Send your child to school with a “toolbox” they can use to solve or negotiate social concerns
• Make sure your child knows when to get an adult involved
• Show off your problem-solving and negotiation skills by modeling for your child an appropriate, respectful, but assertive way of dealing with a social issue
“Parents should be very involved in making their children resilient, self-confident people but they should also teach their children to stand up for themselves without being overly aggressive,” Dr. Clauselle said.
If parents or children need more help in overcoming social abuse, Child and Family Psychology, located in Franklin Square, New York will be holding Assertiveness Training and Confidence Building workshops for children, tweens and teens. Please go to www.psychologists4kids.com and sign up for the “Bully-proof My Kid” workshops. Additionally, a parent series will be offered to parents looking to build resiliency and confidence in their children.