Don’t underestimate the alarming potential effects of an established cyber-bullying relationship between your child and a cyber-bully. According to a Suicide Prevention Resource Center study, both victims and bullies are at a higher risk for suicide after a prolonged bullying relationship – a life-threatening situation that should concern any parent.
However, what if your family has also recently moved to another city and state, and are still coping with the psychological effects of the move? How does a parent help his or her child become more resilient to cyber-bullying when the big change of moving – with all its connected problems and issues for the child or teen – has yet to be assimilated?
Create a Supportive Home Environment
Providing a loving, stress-free home is key to helping your child find an oasis of calm when they are constantly being assailed by cyberbullying messages via the Internet or smartphone. When they receive such messages, your kid experiences a spike of stress, anxiety and even dark thoughts. By optimizing home experiences that strengthen their ability to adjust, cope or recover from such adversity, you are helping them become a “survivor” of the experience, and, eventually, a “thriver.”
In turn, when the child is exposed to neglect, rejection or a violent environment at home, the effects of the cyberbullying is magnified, which leads to depression, anger and withdrawal, and maybe even drug or alcohol abuse and thoughts of suicide.
Establishing a nurturing family environment at home will also do a lot to buffer your child against the effects of the long-distance move, such as insecurity, low self-esteem, and anger at having been uprooted. To learn how you, the parent, can tune up the loving frequency of your home, consider the following three tips:
Inspire Joyful Emotions
It’s common to be so caught up with parenting chores, such as asking your child to clean up after themselves, set the table, do their homework and brush their teeth, that you forget to set aside time to say kind words to them that make them feel loved and appreciated. Now more than ever, as your child is being cyberbullied, try to organize family projects that instill humor and pleasure in life. Make it a point to ask about their day, find out how things at their new school are going, and follow-up about any new friends they’ve mentioned. Show genuine interest in their life and reinforce the notion that you are (and always will be) a non-judgmental listening ear if they ever need it.
Encourage Social Support
While you and your spouse are doing your best to provide a loving space at home, encourage extended family members or adult friends of yours to step up to the plate and bond with your bullied child more. Many kids aren’t comfortable talking to their parents about what they are going through, but being able to connect with that “cool” relative or family friend can encourage them to open up and talk about their experiences. The same holds true for your kid’s budding friendships, or even old friendships, from the town you left behind. Nurture and encourage these relationships to flourish.
If your child is still at the stage of making friends in the new community, help them along with the task. Take them to community events, sign them up for classes with kids of their own age, or have them volunteer in after-school activities. Remember to support the formation of such valuable friendships without being overbearing or critical.
Help Them Discover a New Hobby
Now that your kid is in a new school and town environment, do your best to help them get a taste of what is offered by the new community in terms of new activities or hobbies. From equine activities, to that acrobatic class, to even signing up for electronic music composition, have them enjoy a series of activities that allow them to explore their interests. Eventually, they’ll settle for one or two that will pull them away from the dark emotions of the cyberbullying, while doing a lot to build confidence, and hence, a sense of resilience against their cyber-bullying situation.
Helping your child become more resilient in the face of cyber-bullying attacks requires that you be more supportive of them as they navigate through this difficult time. It’s more important that they find this inner strength on their own, rather than just being told to become more resilient by you or your spouse. By following the above tips, you and your mate should have a clearer idea as to what can be done to build your child’s toughness against self-esteem-destroying bullying tactics.