Bullying and special needs children

Children with physical, developmental, intellectual, emotional and sensory disabilities are at an increased risk of experiencing bullying at school and in other public places where they spend time, such as playgrounds and parks.

A child with disabilities may not have the verbal skills to speak up for himself or herself and may be more physically vulnerable to aggressive actions performed by bullies. In addition, some types of disabilities cause a child to become a bully.

Teachers, parents and other important adults in the lives of children with disabilities can come together to identify problem behaviors and work towards a solution.

Types of Bullying That Affect Children With Special Needs

Bullying is a power imbalance that occurs between two or more people. In most cases, bullying takes place over a duration of time and often progresses to a worsening level of behavior and actions.

There are many forms of bullying that affect children with special needs, including spreading rumors, cyber bullying, teasing, verbal harassment, racial slurs, taunting, making obscene gestures, threats, spitting, kicking, slapping, punching and hitting. Any of these can happen to a child with special needs who may not understand the context or even why people are doing that to him or her.

Creating a Safe Environment for Children With Disabilities

Schools must provide accommodations for children with special needs.

When bullying takes place, the child must first and foremost be kept safe. Once any medical needs are addressed, the bullying behavior can be considered. Creating a safe environment for children with disabilities may require actions such as amending the IEP, having a meeting with the school counselor and principal, or scheduling supportive services such as psychotherapy or meetings with social workers.

School-wide programs about anti-bullying topics can also be performed as a way to educate the entire school community about this important issue.

Raising confident kids is not as easy as one might think. There are so many factors that go into nurturing this mindset that it is easy to overthink the process.

The one thing to remember is that parents are their children’s first teachers, and in that regard, they are the ones who reinforce good behavior. So how does that translate into teaching children how to be confident and secure little people?

Here are some tips for doing just that:

1. Let them do it.

It is so hard to watch children struggle through something, whether it’s tying their shoes, building a LEGO model or solving a word problem, but it is important that they develop the skills necessary to reason through the problem.

Without their own logical deduction system in place, children will depend on their parents for even the most mundane tasks for longer than they should.

2. Scale back the praise.

This may sound cruel, but praise, just like anything else, can feel empty if it doesn’t fit the action.

As children get older, they can tell when they are getting and exorbitant amount of praise for something that doesn’t require it, and they begin to tune it out. This backfires when they do a good job on a difficult task – they may not hear the genuine praise given at the time because they have become desensitized to it.

3. Choose optimism over pessimism.

Showing a child that there is a bright side even when they are having trouble helps them to readdress their thinking patterns and reactions to stressors. This is helpful if the child becomes distraught when things don’t go their way.

4. Display the rule of choice and consequence.

Letting children make their own decisions is difficult. Parents often feel concerned that their children won’t be happy with the outcome of some of the decisions they make. That is a fact, sometimes children will decide on a course that will disappoint them. But children must learn that their actions have consequences, and the best place to do so is at home.

Instilling confidence in children is one of those difficult parental jobs that continue on for years. Parents play an important role in their child’s future behavior, and by addressing concerns like these early, children have a better chance of adjusting to life’s challenges.

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