How I Helped My Child Overcome a Cyberbully

You’re never prepared to find out that your child is being bullied. When you find out that it’s mostly happening online, it’s even more of a shock. You hear about cyber bullies and how they’re becoming more prevalent among today’s youth, but you just don’t imagine that it would happen to your kid. At least that was my experience. We had just moved to a new city and I thought to myself do we have to move again? What do I do? As a parent, the first thing to realize is that you’re not alone. About 1 in 4 kids become the victim of cyberbullying at some point.

It’s been about two years since I first found out about my son’s cyberbully and I’m happy to report that the situation has been resolved. From my own experience, here are some of the best ways to help your child overcome a cyberbully.

Create an environment of judgment-free communication

Many kids who are being cyberbullied will hide it from their parents. Often they are embarrassed, or they fear that their parents will be mad at them for some reason. My son, for example, didn’t come out and tell me on his own. I found the evidence myself. He wasn’t very forthcoming at first, but the more I told him that it’s not his fault and that he can tell me anything, and I won’t judge, the more open he became. After a few weeks, I had convinced him to tell me the whole story – the context around who this bully was and how long the bullying had been going on.

Your first point of contact should be your child’s school

You may think that the logical first step is to contact the cyberbully’s parents. They will be reasonable, right? Not exactly. In my experience, parents tend to become incredibly defensive of their children, even if they are presented with direct evidence of their child’s cyberbullying. Cyberbullying.org agrees that instead of contacting the aggressor’s parents directly, your first move should be to contact the school. Most schools have resources dedicated to address bullying, and cyberbullying falls into that purview. StompOutBullying.org notes that if the bullying is incredibly serious, as in threats are being made or personal information has been compromised, it’s well within your right and duty as a parent to contact the police.

Encourage and facilitate the development of new friends

Moving to a new town is hard on kids, and being cyberbullied makes many kids want to isolate themselves. I found that encouraging and facilitating new relationships with good friends was key to helping my son overcome his anxiety. Redfin.com suggests being available to drive your child to social activities, hosting friends over at your home, and even facilitating their connection with old friends from your old home.

You should also encourage your child to become involved in community activities, local groups, sports, church groups, or any other thing where they can find new friends that they can trust.

Make sure the home environment is as stress-free as possible

I found that one thing I could control was the home environment. I wanted it to be as stress-free as I could make it. One way I did this was to institute a “no technology hour” where phones, laptops, gaming systems, and iPads were all turned off – that meant everyone in the home! This hour was used for family time. I also found that simple tricks like opening windows and letting in natural light and stocking the home with beautiful houseplants really made a difference in my son’s stress level. Here are some more tips for a stress-free home.

It’s difficult to know what to do when your child falls victim to a cyberbully, but I found that you must focus on the things you can control, as the outbursts of a troubled teenager surely isn’t one of them. You can control how you talk to your child, the kind of home environment you create, and how you go about dealing with the issue – which should be calm, measured, and supportive.

By: Laura Pearson

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