Fighting school bullies

My 14-year-old son is being bullied in school as well as on social media by few of his classmates and some senior students. So in effect, it feels like he is being bullied 24/7. He has become more aggressive. How can I help him? — Sheetal Malik, Pune

Bullying is a very complex problem and as parents, you need to tread carefully to ensure that you don’t escalate it. Have a one-on-one conversation with him to find out how he is coping with the situation and brainstorm solutions. To cope with bullying, your son needs to develop assertiveness and must also learn to pick his battles wisely.

Bullies thrive on provoking others to react. Encourageyour son to hang out with small groups of friends as bullies often target lone individuals. Avoid the temptation to take things into your own hands and confront the bully as this may increase provocation. Counsel him that if he is assertive, the bully loses power. Most bullying starts with verbal taunting. Advise him not to argue and that it’s best to ignore jibes and move on. If bullying has affected a large number of students please report it to the school management through your PTA.

Why are male children hopelessly addicted to video games? And why is it that every time I try to stop my 12-year-old son from playing on Playstation 4 or the mobile, we literally come to blows? I have tried banning video games but that just makes him more adamant. I have also noticed that whenever he plays video games, he tends to eat a lot of junk food. Is this a phase, will he outgrow it when he turns 15 years? Please advise. — Saranya Gopalan, Chennai

Don’t indulge in self-rationalisation. Video gaming addiction is not a phase. Unless you step in with rules and regulations to restrict usage and/or discard the gaming device, it will only increase. Gaming addiction has been equated with cocaine addiction! But before you jettison the gaming devices from the house, please ensure that all family members are in agreement and will not give in to his entreaties. Stop buying gadgets and don’t use them as incentives for good behaviour. I also suggest that you make special efforts to sign up your son for sports and fitness classes or any other hobby that interests him. If you are unable to achieve success, please seek professional help. It usually takes six-eight months for positive behaviour changes to set in.

I’m a divorced single mother who works long hours. Therefore I’m forced to depend on my mother to take care of my 10-year-old daughter. But she has very different ideas about raising children, and I don’t want my daughter to grow up with old-fashioned values about what women should or should not do. How do I cope with this situation? — Mini M, Bangalore

You and your mother need to set certain basic ground rules for parenting. Choose a time when both of you are calm and willing to receive feedback from each other. Start small and work on issues on which there is mutual agreement before you move to disputed subjects. I also highly recommend that you spend quality one-on-one time with your daughter, engaging in activities which both of you enjoy. This will help balance out some of the negative views she has heard. Use this time to bond with your daughter, support and listen to her points of view, and please don’t denigrate your mother.

Your child needs to understand and appreciate that each person has differing world views. Your mother has stepped in to support you in the way she knows best, though it is not ideal. Thank your mother often and let her know that though you have differing opinions, you value her support.

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EducationWorld December 2019
ParentsWorld November 2019

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