Emergency Phone Numbers:
- Children Youth and Families Addiction and Mental Health Intake: 780 342-2701
- Mobile Response Team: 780 427-4491
- The Support Network, Edmonton Distress Line: 780 482-HELP (4357)
- Kids Help Phone: 1 800-668-6868
This month we focus on positive relationships and dealing with bullying.
Through positive interactions and positive, deliberate learning opportunities, children and youth in healthy families develop the self-regulation, social, and coping skills that enable them to develop in healthy ways.
Bullying is a form of abuse at the hands of peers that can take different forms at different ages. It is targeted and repeated. It preys on vulnerability on exposes both children who bully and those who are bullied, to a number of social and mental health problems and lifetime pattern of abuse.
What is it?
Part of being a young person is exploring new relationships. This is exciting for kids, but can be scary for parents, who don't want to see their kids get hurt. Relationships can be supportive and help people learn more about themselves. They can also be difficult, frustrating, and even unhealthy. Your child needs your help learning about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Defining characteristics of a healthy relationship include:
- Seeing your friend/partner as trustworthy
- Being supported
- Feeling physically and emotionally secure
- Having the ability to be completely honest
- Frequently expressing appreciation
- Feeling respected which includes treating oneself with respect
- Being true to oneself and not changing so someone will like you more.
Unhealthy relationships do the exact opposite. When someone is in an unhealthy relationship, they can feel confused, anxious, and unsure. Knowing the differences between a healthy and not-so-healthy relationship will help in making good choices around relationships and friendships
Bullying is a form of abuse at the hands of peers that can take different forms at different ages. It is targeted and repeated. It involves power, aggression, intimidation and shame. It preys on vulnerability on exposes both children who bully and those who are bullied, to a number of social and mental health problems and lifetime pattern of abuse.
- 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying
- 87% of Canadian students in Grades 8-10 reported witnessing school bullying in the past year. (Stats Can, 2012)
Signs of Being Bullied
Because bullying is foremost a relationship problem, adults must look for signs of bullying or victimization within the child's relationship.
Emotional and Behavioral Signs of Being Bullied:
- Afraid to go to school or other activities
- Appears anxious or fearful
- Low self-esteem and makes negative comments about oneself
- Complains of feeling unwell (headaches and stomachaches)
- Lower interest in activities and lower performance at school
- Loses things, needs money, reports being hungry after school.
- Injuries, bruising, damaged clothes or articles.
- Appears unhappy, irritable
- Trouble sleeping, nightmares
- Threats to hurt themselves or others
- May appear isolated from their peer group
is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, laptops, tablets, social media sites, text, chat and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include hurtful text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social media, embarrassing pictures, videos, websites or fake profiles.
- Cyber bullying can happen 24 hrs a day 7 days a week and reach a child/youth even when they are alone.
- Cyberbullying can be done anonymously and distributed to a wide audience
- Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages or pictures is extremely difficult once they've been posted or sent.
What to do about it?
Healthy Relationships Start at Home
Healthy development depends on healthy relationships and it starts at home. Children who form secure attachments and feel a
loving bond with a caregiver fare well in terms of many measures of health and wellbeing and those whose attachments are insecure or disorganized fare more poorly. This discrepancy demonstrates the need for adults involved in the care of children to establish healthy relationships with them and provide a balance of warmth and control aligned with the children's developmental capacities.
Healthy habits start to develop early. Through positive interactions and positive, deliberate learning opportunities, children and youth in healthy families develop the self regulation, social, and coping skills that enable them to develop in healthy ways.
Children and youth who grow up in healthy family relationships develop relationship skills that form the foundation or healthy relationships through adolescence and into adulthood. A substantial proportion of Canadian youth do not develop the capacity for healthy relationships. Nearly a quarter of Canadian youth report having experienced aggression with a dating partner (Connolly et al., 2010). Both girls and boys who are involved in an aggressive romantic relationship have a range of emotional and behaviour problems that have a potentially strong and negative impact on health and wellbeing as they move into adulthood
(Wolfe et al., 2003).
Talk to your Children/Youth about Relationships
- Share your values. You can help your children understand what it means to be in a healthy relationship. By talking to them about respect, healthy relationships, and what they wants out of his/her relationships, you can help them stay away from or get out of an unhealthy relationship.
- Talk with your child/youth about what you want for him/her. "I want you to have relationships where you feel respected", " I want you to have relationships where you feel comfortable", "I want you to enjoy your relationships and feel fulfilled because you have people in your life that care about you".
- Listen and be supportive. When talking to your child, be supportive. If they do open up, it's important to be a good listener. Your child may feel ashamed of what's happening in their relationship. Many teens fear that their parents may overreact, blame them or be disappointed. Others worry that parents won't believe them or understand. If they do come to you to talk, let it be on their terms, and meet them with understanding, not judgment. Ask questions and encourage open discussion. Make sure you listen to your son or daughter, giving them a chance to speak. Avoid analyzing, interrupting, lecturing or accusing
- Talk about dating abuse and how to recognize unhealthy relationships. Include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual coercion, digital abuse and financial abuse.
- Keep it low key. Don't push if your child is not ready to talk. Try again another time.
- Encourage other relationships. Encourage your child to meet new people through activities, after school programs and other friends.
Resources/References for Healthy Relationships
1 Pager Healthy Relationships.pdf
How Parents can Help
Start the conversation: Children/youth are unlikely to
confide in parents about something as hurtful and embarrassing as bullying unless they know they have a receptive audience.
- Talk often and openly
- Share any bullying experiences you may have had growing up
Encourage new friendships and build self confidence: Positive friendships in different settings can often minimize the effects of bullying. Encourage your children/youth to enroll in sports, lessons, camps, or other activities away from school so they can experience different friendships.
Advocate for your child/youth: Adult intervention stops bullying. It is a parent's job to protect their child, whether they are in pre-school or high school. Treat bullying incidents seriously – talk with teachers, other adults in their life and other parents.
- Always be ready to listen to your teen and be their advocate. Cyberbullying can escalate quickly and requires swift adult intervention.
- Monitor child/youth technology use appropriately and look out for warning signs that your child/youth may be experiencing cyberbullying.
- Always keep a record of emails, chats, or phone messages that you can take to your Internet Service Provider or the Police.
- Always report incidents of cyber bullying to your child's school and Internet Service Provider. School boards have Codes of Conduct that include cyberbullying.
Resources/References for Bullying
- Bullying Prevention, Alberta Education:
24 hr Bullying Prevention Hotline @ 1 888 456 2323https://education.alberta.ca/bullying-prevention/what-is-bullying/everyone/bullying-helpline/