When I was a student, school ended the first week in June, and didn’t reconvene until after Labor Day, a full, three months of no homework, no books….and no bullying. Yes, those summers were lonely, but at least they offered respite from the teasing and incessant mocking that any child who’s ever been a target of peer abuse can understand. And today with the internet and sites like Facebook, not even the summer offers an escape.
I remember vividly, watching marathons of Bewitched and The Brady Bunch on TV, trying not to think about how the kids from school were hanging out together and having fun, and I wasn’t being invited to join in. I ached to be included, and on cooler afternoons when the windows were open and I could hear them outside playing, I would close my eyes and imagine that I was there with them, hitting softballs, running bases, and high-fiving my teammates as I slid into home-base…
My parents did everything they could to provide a distraction from my despair, from day trips to the beach with my cousins to activity filled family weekends. Though I loved every minute of the time I spent with them, it never truly lessened the sting of being the school outcast because I knew that as lonely as the summer was for me, it wouldn’t be anything compared to what I’d have to face once school started again in the fall.
My mom and I talk about those summers often, and looking back, what we wish we would have done a little differently. For those of you who are parents of a child who has struggling with school bullying, here are some tips from my mom Joy and I, on how you can utilize the summer months to prepare for the school year ahead.
- Don’t wait until something happens to contact the counselor or school principal, especially if your child is matriculating into middle or high school in the fall-contact the main office of your child’s school in June or early August, sit down with the counselor and principal and share with them what your child has been through in the past, your concerns, and then work out a plan of action for the new school year.
- Be vigilant about monitoring your child’s internet time. Cyber-mischief can intensify in the summer as kids have more time to frequent social networking sites. Just because class isn’t in session doesn’t mean the cyber-bullies are dormant.
- A confident child is less likely to be a target of school bullying-contact the nearest park district that isn’t visited by your child’s schoolmates and ask them for a list of their organized activities for kids and enroll your child in whatever interests him or her most. This will give your child a head-start on making friends outside of school, which will not only increase their confidence at school, but will also give them a social lifeline when they need it most.
- Research qualified therapists in your local area now, before school reconvenes, so if you, your child, or your family needs some professional support during the school year, you’re a step ahead.
- Most important, spend as much quality time with your child as possible during the summer months-make time for family activities. Do everything you can to nourish and reinforce the family dynamic so should tough days lie ahead at school, your child will feel strong and loved at home.
Good luck as you ready for the school year ahead! And of course, if you have any questions or would like to share your comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.