Every parent wants to protect their child from bullies. It can be challenging, though, because you aren't with them 24 hours a day. Many children attend camps during school breaks and this can raise challenges to keeping your child safe from bullies. You may feel as though you won't know if something is going on or that you won't know the best way to address it. However, if you determine there is a problem with bullying, you can support your child and work with camp staff to protect your child from camp bullies.
Method 1 of 4:Determining If There is a Problem
1Ask your child directly. You can't protect your child from camp bullies if you don't know that your child is being bullied. Some children may tell you when something is going on, while others may not say anything. One of the most straightforward ways of determining if your child is being bullied at camp is to ask them.
You could try something like, “I've noticed that you seem a little different lately. Is something or someone at camp bothering you? Are you being bullied?”
If they don't want to talk about it or deny it, then bring up the topic again another day or look for other clues as to what is going on.
Tell your child that they are brave and should feel proud they had the courage to speak up. You might say, “I'm glad you told me what's going on at camp. It took a lot of courage.”
2Notice if your child withdraws. Withdrawal from activities they usually enjoy, isolating themselves while at camp, or reluctance to go to camp, especially without a good reason, are possible indicators of bullying. You can protect your child from camp bullies by looking for warning signs early on and being aware of how engaged your child is in camp activities.
Pay attention to whether your child asks to skip camp or only go on certain days or at certain times. Pay special attention if they used to really enjoy camp.
Notice if your child takes an especially long time getting ready for camp or seems reluctant for you to leave when you are dropping them off.
Be aware of whether your child is engaged in activities or interacting with other campers when you pick them up.
Changes in mood or behavior can also indicate a problem. These might include stubbornness, irritability, tantrums, or frequent crying.
3Pay attention to physical complaints. You can protect your child from camp bullies by paying attention to the indirect clues your child is giving you that something is wrong. Sometimes, when a child is being bullied they will complain of various non-specific illnesses and pains.
Your child may be having physical symptoms such as stomachaches because of the stress of being bullied.
Your child may be using illness as a way to avoid going to camp and being bullied.
If your child is being physically bullied, they may have injuries that need to be checked out by a medical professional.
4Notice problems sleeping. Being a victim of bullying can cause major disruptions in sleep patterns. One way to determine if there is a problem and protect your child from being bullied at camp is to be aware of changes in your child's sleep patterns.
You don't have to hover over them while they are sleeping, but you can pay attention to whether they seem to be waking up in the night or having trouble falling asleep.
If your child is at an overnight camp, you can also ask them directly, “How have you been sleeping lately?”
5Watch to see if your child bullies others. Sometimes children who are bullied become bullies themselves. If you notice your child suddenly acting out at other children, you may want to talk to them about their behavior.
You can ask them why they are treating other children in this manner. You can say,"Why are you calling Sally names like that?"
You can ask them directly too if other kids are bullying them. You might ask,"Is this the way that other kids at camp treat you?"
6Recognize the types of bullying. We usually think of someone pushing you or teasing you when we think of bullying. But, bullying can take many different forms. If you recognize the different types of bullying you'll be better able to recognize it when it first starts happening, understand what your child is going through, and determine the best way to protect your child from camp bullies.
Physical bullying is the most recognized form of bullying. It can include things like shoving, punching, kicking, pinching, and more. It can even include damaging or destroying the victim's property.
Emotional bullying happens when a child is called names, gossiped about, threatened, or even isolated socially.
Texts, emails, blogs, and social networking are used for cyberbullying. This happens when your child is harassed, threatened, teased, or has embarrassing pictures or videos posted of them.
Sometimes bullies will use several different tactics. For example, they might make fun of someone and tell everyone else to ignore that person, as well.
Method 2 of 4:Advising Your Child to Handle Bullying
1Tell an adult immediately. Advise your child to let a camp counselor, leader, or official know that they are being bullied as soon as possible. Telling an adult as soon as bullying happens will help protect your child from camp bullies because bullying can get worse when it is not reported.
Telling an adult can relieve some of the stress of being bullied at camp.
It is also a way to document what happened in case the information is needed later.
Your child might worry that the other kids will get mad at them for telling a camp official. Reassure your child that no matter what happens, someone will be there to watch them and protect them.
2Stay calm. Bullies act the way they do in order to get a reaction. Although it can be really difficult, advise your child to control their fear, anger, embarrassment, and frustration and stay calm. By advising your child to handle bullying by staying calm you are also protecting them from camp bullies.
Staying calm can keep the situation from escalating into something worse. Remind them to take deep breaths and relax when they feel angry or upset.
Tell your child to try not to cry, look upset, or lash out because these behaviors can make the bullying worse
If it is cyber-bullying, your child should avoid responding to mean comments or posts.
3Tell the bully to stop. This is one of the most effective ways for your child to deal with a bully because it lets the bully know that what they are doing is not okay. You can protect your child from camp bullies by advising them to calmly and confidently tell the bullies to stop.
Remind your child to show confidence when telling the bully to stop. You could say, “Hold your head up, relax your shoulders, take a deep breath, and then speak clearly.”
You might tell your child, “When the bully starts bothering you, look her in the eyes and calmly tell her to stop. Then walk away.”
Have your child practice saying stop. This roleplaying can prepare them to do it in real life.
4Turn to their friends. Bullying is less likely to happen when your child is with friends because bullies tend to pick on individual kids or kids by themselves a lot. Advise your child to use their support system at camp to help protect them from camp bullies.
Friends can help your child stand up for themselves and serve as a witness to what happened.
Spending time with friends can also help boost your child's self-esteem and confidence.
Remind your child that they should stand up for their friends when they are being bullied as well. This will create a safer environment for everyone.
If your child has few or no friends at camp, you may want to speak to a camp counselor about “encouraging” a friendship between your child and some other campers.
5Avoid the bully. Depending on how the camp is set up, the best way to protect your child from camp bullies may be to tell them to avoid the bully. You don't want to advise your child to stop doing things they enjoy or drastically change their schedule, but avoiding the bullies means the bullies can't bother your child.
Talk to your child and camp counselors about ways to minimize the interactions your child has with the bullies.
For instance, if camp kids are divided into teams, you could ask that your child be switched to a different team.
6Use coping techniques. Being bullied, no matter what form it takes, can be very stressful. You can protect your child from camp bullies by teaching your child to use coping techniques when they are stressed because of the bully.
Show your child how to do deep breathing techniques. Practice inhaling slowly and deeply and exhaling it slowly.
Teach your child about using visualization as a way to reduce stress. For instance, you might work with your child on picturing a fun experience they had in the past.
Violence should not be the answer to bullying. Let your child know that they should not use physical force with the bullies unless absolutely necessary.
7Stay positive. Being bullied can make your child depressed, discouraged, and humiliated. You can protect your child from these effects of being bullied at camp by reminding your child to keep a positive outlook. Although bullying is a difficult situation, there is still a lot to be grateful for and happy about in life.
Keeping a positive attitude can help reduce the negative effects the bullies have on your child's self-esteem and confidence.
Encourage your child to make a list or keep journal of things that make them happy, that they enjoy, and that they are grateful for.
Method 3 of 4:Supporting Your Child
1Spend time together on a regular basis. Although you may not have time to sit and chat or play together for hours, taking regular time out to spend time with your child is a great way to support them. It can help protect your child from camp bullies because it lets your child know that you care about them. It can also help them relieve some of their stress and tension just knowing that you are there for them.
Spending regular time together will also strengthen your relationship and make it easier for your child to let you know if they are being bullied at camp.
Try to spend at least 10-15 minutes each day giving your child your focused attention.
2Boost their self-esteem. Having a low self-esteem can sometimes increase the risk of being bullied. In addition, being bullied can further lower your child's self-esteem. Nurture your child's self-esteem and self-image to help protect them from bullies at camp by putting them at less risk for being bullied.
Tell your child things like, “You're a great child and a great person in general. You have a lot of positive traits and characteristics about you.”
Praise your child's talents, and encourage them at things they do well. You can say,"You're such a good artist. Will you make a picture for me?"
Talk to your child about looking for the good in themselves. For instance, you might recommend that your child give themselves three compliments a day.
3Let them know they aren't to blame. Children that are bullied may feel that they are going through this because they did something wrong or because something is just wrong with them. You can support your child and protect them from camp bullies by letting them know that if it happens, it's not their fault.
Let your child know that people bully because of insecurities and fears they have.
Tell your child something like, “I don't want you to feel guilt or bad about what is happening. You didn't do anything to make him pick on you. Bullying is a bad choice he's making.”
Method 4 of 4:Working with Camp Staff
1Take action immediately. The quicker you address any bullying that is happening at your child's camp, the quicker you will be able to protect them from it. Don't wait to see if the situation will get better if your child has told you or is giving you any clues that they are being bullied. Do something as soon as you have an indication that your child might be being bullied at camp.
Talk to your child about what is going on and let them know that it's not their fault and that you support them.
Try to get as many details from your child as possible. Knowing names, dates, places, and times will help you report what has happened.
If your child is physically injured or seems emotionally distressed then you should seek assistance.
2Tell camp officials about the bullying. In some cases, camp officials may already be aware of what is going on and taking steps to address it. But, in many cases, adults have no idea that bullying is happening. Reporting to camp counselors or administrators that your child is being bullied is one of the best things you can do to protect your child.
Telling camp officials protects your child by creating a team of people addressing the problem.
Reporting the bullying also holds camp administrators accountable for taking action, protecting your child, and resolving the problem.
Suggest to the counselors that they have a talk with all of the children about bullying. This may help reduce the problem without targeting specific children.
3Be persistent. Protecting your child from camp bullies may not be something that you can do with one phone call or conversation with a camp counselor. Continue to check-in frequently with your child, camp counselors, and administrators, to find out what progress is being made in resolving the situation.
You can ask your child for daily updates about how things are going. For example, you might say, “How are things going at camp? Have the changes the counselors made helped with the bullying?”
Check in with camp leaders every few days or so to see how their interventions are working.
Continue checking with camp officials and your child periodically to make sure that the situation is under control.
If the camp counselors seem dismissive about the bullying, keep trying to get their attention. Your persistence may be able to persuade them to do something about it.
4Involve the authorities. While you should work with camp officials to protect your child from camp bullies, in some situations medical professionals or legal authorities may need to be involved. If your child is the victim of physical or sexual harm, you need to report it to legal authorities and possibly seek medical attention.
Contact your local police station or the police station closest to the camp if your child is seriously physically harmed.
You may also want to contact the police if there is a threat of serious harm. For instance, if another camp posts online that they want to humiliate other campers, you should contact the police.
Immediately take your child to a healthcare professional and contact the police if your child was sexually assaulted in any way.
You may also way to involve the authorities if you have already involved camp officials, but the situation has continued for an extended period of time or has gotten worse.
If the bullying is causing your child to feel anxious, depressed, or afraid, you may want to reach out to a therapist for help.