And Ways to Stop Bullying in Your Kidmin
Noticing the signs of bullying can be difficult, as children will often appear one way to adults and another way to their peers. This can lead well-meaning adults to dismiss warning signs of bullying as a game or joke between friends. People accept an element of playful roughhousing between kids, but when is it too much?
Children who are bullied will often keep their mouths closed about it. There are countless reasons why a child might suffer in silence, whether they feel ashamed or afraid. Responsible adults around them must be clued up on the signs of bullying, to notice even when they don’t feel safe to communicate.
Keep everyone safe by looking out for any mention of these, as they could be signs of bullies in your kids’ ministry.
How to Recognize Bullying
- Unaccounted-for injuries.
- Clothing, books, or gadgets that have been misplaced or destroyed.
- Constant migraines or stomachaches, feeling ill, or pretending to be ill.
- Alterations in eating patterns, such as abrupt meal skipping or binge eating.
- Always feeling hungry when they get home from school.
- Difficulty falling asleep or recurring nightmares.
- Declining grades, losing interest in academics, or refusing to attend classes.
- Abrupt friend loss or avoiding social settings.
- Helplessness or a decline in self-esteem.
- Self-destructive actions, hurting oneself, or discussing suicide.
How to Get Bullies to Stop
As soon as you are alerted to a potential bullying situation, you must show the children involved how serious this is. Immediately stopping the behaviors of bullies will ensure every child at your ministry feels safe, cared for, and protected. No child deserves to go through the traumatic experiences of bullying, especially as they try to deepen their faith.
Guidelines for Adults
- Bullying should never be minimized or disregarded, whether it is reported by a kid or noticed by an adult.
- Tell the child they did the right thing by coming forward and telling you, as it isn’t always easy.
- Avoid handling the matter alone, as it tells the bully their victim is helpless.
- Don't advise the target to stay away from the bully as this merely provides a quick workaround for a more serious issue; it doesn't resolve it.
- Don’t go up against the bully’s parents or the bully alone. As bullying is often a learned behavior, their parents may react in a similar way. Instead, get support and write an action plan.
- Keep track of the targeted children. There is a significant possibility a youngster is being picked on if you hear kids call another child a “loner.” Develop your listening abilities. Watch out for warnings.
- Teach children to defend themselves and others. Teach children to speak up when bullying happens, either by doing so themselves or by reporting it.
- Tell youngsters that reporting bullying to a dependable adult is acceptable and the correct thing to do.
- Make targets and witnesses aware that reporting bullying is not a kind of tattling.
- Plan youth ministry lessons on bullying to educate the young members of your church about the risks of not respecting others. Here are 25 Bible verses about church bullies.
- Teach your students how to develop empathy and emotional intelligence using these tips.
Guidelines for Kid Being Bullied
- Never allow a situation to get to the “boiling point.” Try to share your concerns with a trusted adult before bursting with anger.
- Work on recognizing and controlling your anger with “cooling down” techniques including counting to ten, deep breathing, or backing away.
- Maintaining your composure until they are safely away from any threat is sometimes the best course of action.
- Start writing a journal as a tool to express your emotions.
- Follow the golden rule stated in Luke 6:31: “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.”
- Don’t become a bully, but embrace God and act with kindness.
- Even when you disagree with or detest someone, show them respect.
- Don't isolate, mock, or tease other people. Learn about bully victims here.
- Never treat someone with contempt, cruelty, or aggression.
- If you say or do anything you shouldn’t, apologize, request forgiveness, and forgive others.
When to Get Parents Involved
Parents have a right to know what is happening with their child’s well-being. A good kids’ ministry will have strong communication channels with parents, so bringing up your concerns should be easy.
It doesn’t have to be a big deal; just ask them for a private chat and see if they have anything to add. Maybe they have noticed a few strange behaviors at home but didn’t think anything of it. They may have more information to help the situation.
It is also important to have a conversation with the parents of the children displaying signs of bullying. Arrange meetings with the parent, child, and another worker or member of the ministry, as they can be a support and a witness. If bullying persists at your church, an anti-bullying workshop for the parents and children at your ministry could help teach parents essential information like top signs your child is being bullied and what to do if your kid is being bullied.
Build a culture of kindness at your church, so everyone knows that bullying is unacceptable. Stop bullying at your kidmin—let your kids focus on their relationship with God.