Oh Baby: Bully-proofing your child - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: Bully-proofing your child

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Many parents feel helpless to stop bullies from picking on their kids.

But now, parents can get help from anti-bullying services. This next story offers frustrated parents and their bullied kids some help.

School should be a place where kids go to learn and make new friends but for this mom, it's a place where her son gets teased and bullied.

"They marked him from the beginning on the first day of kindergarten," she said.

The bullying is so bad, she's decided not to show their faces. Fearful it'll just make things worse.

"I spoke with the bus driver. I've spoken with each teacher that he's had," she said.

Nothing worked. So now she's turning to Dr. Joel Haber, a psychologist who says parents can help their kids to become "bully proof".

"A parent calls me in desperation because their kid has been bullied. They don't know what to do and their kid doesn't want to go back to school," Dr haber said.

Haber said how a parent reacts can mean the difference between helping their kid and making things worse.

"Most parents feel that rush of adrenaline, that emotion and they want to take control of it themselves," Dr. Haber says that is a big mistake.

"They cut off their kid from talking to them," he said.

He shows this mom how to talk to her son about the bullying and then role play ways to diffuse it.

"Show me how you get picked on. And I'll try to show you a way that won't work and then I'll show you a way that'll work."

But role playing doesn't work with older kids because most of their bullying happens online.

"Kids are way ahead of parents on technology, and parents need the skills to deal with that so they can feel safe when their kids are using technology," Haber said.

So he has different advice for parents dealing with cell phones, Facebook and MySpace, the tools older kids use to bully.

"My goal always is when parents bring technology into a home is have them just set up parameters and rules," Haber said.

His number one rule?

Tell your kids cell phones and computers are a privilege and will be taken away if they are used for hurtful behavior.

He also advises parents to google their child periodically and "friend" them on facebook" to keep tabs on their online communication.

He said save and print all evidence of cyberbullying, and for crying out loud, learn the language of the internet to monitor your kids texts.

Michelle Boykins from the National Crime Prevention Council also has tips to prevent cyberbullying

"We recommend that you keep your computer or the laptop in a central location that allows you to see what's going on," Boykins said.

Boykins points to research which shows bullying of any kind can have long lasting effects on kids.

"This is so devastating to our young people. They experience a drop in grades, isolation, they have mood swings and depression," she said.

And it's alarmingly common.

"In our research we found that 43 percent of kids report being the victim of bullying," Boykins said.

Which is why she supports using a bully coach or other resources to stop it.

"The National Crime Prevention Council's website has a wealth of information for parents and for young people on the issues of bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting," she said.

A key tip from their site, don't encourage your child to fight.

Something Dr. Haber also teaches kids.

"If you hit them back, you're going to get in trouble," Haber said.

This mom is waiting for the day her son can look forward to going to school.

And she's hoping what she's learned from Dr. Haber is the key to making her son "bully proof".

Another recent survey found that in the past 12 months: 52 percent of students reported having hit someone in anger, so clearly there's a need for parents and their children to find positive, healthy and non-violent ways to deal with bullying.

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