Undoubtedly there aren’t many things more frustrating for a parent than seeing their child struggle with bullying and peer pressure. It makes many parents feel powerless, as so much seems to happen under their radar. Many children, especially teens, are reluctant to share what’s going on in their social lives.
Let us take a look at some important ways in which you, as a Muslim parent, can help your child:
1. Recognize the Signs
Not every child will take the initiative to come up to you and tell you that he is being bullied. In fact, a lot of children wouldn’t. Be observant of your child, so you will notice when something changes in his behavior or expression.
Signs can include:
- Your child waits with using bathroom until he gets home from school. School bathrooms can be bully-hot spots.
- He often gets home hungry even though you have packed enough lunch or given enough money.
- Belongings get damaged or ‘lost’ more frequently.
- Your child feels more negatively about himself. He may think he’s not good enough, or blames himself a lot.
- Social withdrawal, especially when your child stops socializing with his usual friends.
2. Listen, Don’t Judge
One of the most valuable skills as a parent is to be able to listen to your child. Really listen, that is, without judging. Let your child talk, without giving your opinion, offering solutions or getting upset. As important as it is for kids to stay cool, the same goes for parents. Getting upset, or at the other end, downplaying your child’s feelings do not empower him to deal with the situation effectively, and will keep him from telling you about his issues in the future. It is natural for a parent to feel emotional and to want to react to what your child says, but be patient, listen carefully, and think things over before you rush to judgment.
3. Create a Strong Bond
Having a good relationship with your parents is something that gives child a feeling of security and well-being that can protect against the negative effects of bullying. This means spending time with your child, making your child feel loved and valued. As Muslims, spending time with your child and strengthening your relationship should also be about helping each other get closer to our Creator. Rituals like salah, fasting, reading Qur’an and attending lectures are excellent opportunities to spend time together while growing in the deen at the same time.
4. Support Network
You as a parent will also need a network of supporting people, whom you can talk to and get advice from. Family members and brothers or sisters from the local community should naturally be a part of this, but also try to maintain good relationships with other adults who play a role in your child’s life, such as teachers, school officials, and friends’ parents.
5. Boost Self-Confidence
Try to increase your child’s self-confidence and sense of accomplishment by seeking out hobbies or activities that he is good at. These could include a variety of things, so it is important to do this together with your child and take into account his personality and talents. Every child has natural abilities, whether athletic, artistic, social or otherwise, and being able to do something you are good at will boost self-esteem and give a sense of empowerment which can help him to stand up against bullying and peer pressure.
6. Be an Example
Parents serve as role models for the behavior that they want to see in their children. So, if you would like your child to be able to solve conflicts effectively, confidently and Islamically, you should set the example. Do not retaliate, use insulting language, backbite, or let your emotions get the better of you. Instead speak with truth and justice, show forgiveness and patience, and keep your emotions in check.
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak the truth.” [Qur'an: Chapter 33, Verse 70]
Abu Hurairah reported that a man said to the Prophet , “Advise me! “The Prophet said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.” [Sahih Bukhari]
7. Coach Your Child
Chances are that your child could use some day-to-day coaching to deal with bullying and peer pressure effectively, and you as a parent are in an excellent position to fulfil that role. So, look at the tips for dealing with bullying and peer pressure from the previous posts, talk about them and help your child on a practical level to implement those things that are useful in your situation. Come up with ideas of things to say or to do, help find beneficial activities, and facilitate healthy social contacts. And most importantly, keep motivating your child to do the right things and put their trust in Allah .
“And whosoever fears Allah, He will prepare for him a way out.” [Qur'an: Chapter 65, Verse 2]
This was the third and last article in the series “Let’s Beat Bullying.” I hope you benefited from reading. Please feel free to share your experiences and tips on how to help your child deal with bullying and peer pressure in the ‘Comments’ section!