It only take 37 seconds to make a bully and a victim; and in every seven minutes that passes, a child somewhere in America is being bullied. In fact, 1 out of every 4 kids falls prey to the claws of a bully, or worse, a group of bullies. In the same saddening note, 1 out of every 4 teachers think that bullying is normal, or not at all wrong. As if this is not enough to shock you, some 160,000 students skip school every day for the simple yet inarguable reason that they fear the idea of being a butt of the bully’s jokes. Bullying Statistics revealed that while 71% of students strongly believe that bullying is a pressing concern in their schools, teachers will intervene with this concern only 4% of the time.
Now, you wonder, how on earth will mere playgrounds come to save the bullied child’s tragic day?
While playgrounds are usually perceived as breeding grounds for the bullies and the victims, recent studies commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland discovered that if playgrounds are redesigned to encourage children to relearn the basics of ethics, bullying incidences can decrease by up to 64%. Indeed, playgrounds of all forms – be it plastic, those that are found in the backyard alongside a tree house, or those that fall under the classic wooden wonders department – help develop children in a more real, practical and beneficial way.
As parents and security blankets of our kids, it is both a right and an obligation to ensure that we are raising a new generation bound by compassion amidst the pangs of consumerism and the pitfalls of the modern day narcissistic, “selfie-centric” generation. With these practical playtime parenting tips, take part in making your children run and walk with their heads high one playground visit at a time.
1. Check your child’s academic performance. Bullied children are more likely to suffer withdrawal from the crowd as they feel highly insecure about themselves.
2. Experiencing upset stomach and headache are twice as likely to bullied kids. While these may be mistaken for normal health conditions after a tirelessly running around the ground, these “hardly there” signs may help you and your kid, too.
3. Child spending more time alone in the playground. The next time you see your kid like alone, get a little help from his or her chummy buddy. Let them sit on an affordable plastic bench as they open up to each other, and learn a thing or two about how easy it is to make friends in a very light-hearted manner.
4. Remember that one of the factors of being a bully is the longing to fit in a group. The best way to deal with bullied children is to educate them about what bullies are made of –kids who may have been bullied, too. Just make sure not to let them feel that revenge is the best way to combat the bullies.
5. A bully usually coerces the rules of the game. The next time you see a kid or a group of kids huddling and hogging the spiral slide or heedlessly sneering while having a “harmless” seesaw session, subtly check on the kid or on the group. Adult intervention is the best way to address bullying issues.
6. A playground is social construct that serves as a stage for dominance and submission. During the formative years of your children, make sure that they are equipped with how to deal with their playmates –when to give in, and when to put their foot down. This golden nugget is a foundation for empowering kids as they get older.
7. A bullying episode can be ignited with an innocent shove while having a grand time on playground slides or merely running over another kid. In between water breaks, give your kid this hypothetical situation and see how s/he responds to it. Don’t forget to affirm or gently yet firmly negate his/her opinions. This is another way to educate your child without going overboard.
8. Dads who are tasked as volunteers to oversee orderliness prove to be effective authority figures who have warded off bullies. If you have the chance, get in touch with school personnel and take part in battling the bullying while ensuring your kid’s safety by simply devoting a few hours of your time.
9. Volunteer in your child’s school and you can easily meet more parents and check on your child at the same time. This way, you get a real feel of how your child’s second home is.
10. The Bully Free Program reported that bullying starts at the tender age of three or four years old. Indoor playgrounds must be conducive for adults, so that they can have a bite of nostalgia in their younger days. You may even share your own stories that may inspire your child to see the ray of light in spite the clouds of grey in his/her school time and even the well-loved break time.
11. Take inspiration from the trusty wooden playground. Inject the joys of your yesteryears with infusing you and your child’s bonding time with traditional games done best in the playground. Hopscotch anyone? Did you know that relieving happy childhood memories does wonders for your emotional and mental health, too?
12. Other telltale signs of a bullied kid includes sleeping difficulties and unexplainable aggression towards others. When left unaddressed, these would later develop to violent tendencies once the victim reaches adolescence and adulthood. Sadly, we live in a world where bully bosses and power-driven leaders abound; and this harsh reality is tolerated and even permitted by no less than parents and teachers, too.
13. Bullied kids crave attention, too. They sometimes feel that being the center of attention is equated to being the apple of the bully’s eye. More often than not, bullied kids even reach out to bullies in the hopes of gaining a friend, but fail to do so.
14. Vandalism is another way in which the bullies mark their territories. Sturdy equipment for play time that come with worry-free guarantee is your safest and best bet to put a stop to the seemingly tireless kids who always look around for double or triple double.
Make your next playtime a “No to Bullying” game time. Take the lead to bring your child to a safer, happier and a more compassionate future, today. Infuse their play with battling the bully’s lean and mean ways.