Andover, NJ – January 2010 – One of the most distressing aspects of child-rearing is finding out your child is being bullied, and then trying to figure out what to do about it. Playground bullying is challenging enough to stop, but now that these behaviors have shifted into cyberspace, many parents are at a loss as to how to help their children protect themselves.
Why are some children bullied while using social networks, and not others? How can parents of bullied kids help them to be strong and ward off negative attention from their peers?
First and foremost, you should help your child deal with anger, sadness and frustration that comes with being bullied online, according to the Holistic Mentorship Network (HMN), a New Jersey-based organization for holistic practitioners. “By helping children calm down and learn to like themselves, they will project strength and be less of a target,” said Dr. Beth Haessig, a Denville-based psychologist and HMN member.
Cyberbullying is a manifestation of mind-body split. It disconnects people from their true selves: Because of the lack of human interaction, such as reading facial expressions, kids who post cruel comments or photos are not necessarily clear about the hurt they are inflicting, says Haessig. “For the bullied child, trauma is a full-body reaction that can get lodged in his or her body, creating more tension and self-esteem issues.”
Haessig counsels patients through role playing; for instance, acting out negative scenarios and helping the child to stop emitting fear. She also practices Core Energetics, a body-based form of psychotherapy that helps to remove emotional blockages, in this case resulting from anger and hurt, held in the body.
Hilary Bilkis, a Morristown-based holistic practitioner, addresses stress stored in the body through CranioSacral Therapy, which is a very gentle and deeply relaxing form of bodywork that releases tension from the central nervous system and the entire body. It helps to restore a sense of balance and peace. During a CranioSacral session, a Somato Emotional Release (SER) may occur. It is a body-mind technique which allows the tissues of the body to release memories, some of which may have significant emotional charge. Tissues and organs can store memories and experiences in the form of protein structures. “SER brings an awareness into the consciousness of what is being held in the body. In the case of a child who’s been the victim of bullying, SER can help them express frustration, anger and hurt, so he or she stops internalizing it.”
One of the best ways to stop cyberbullying, according to Bilkis, is to slow down and limit the stimuli that puts your child’s nervous system in a high state of stress. “The rapid-fire communication that comes about through social networking–and, in fact, all electronic stimuli–makes it difficult to discern whether the stimulus is good stress, moderate stress or bad stress. As a result, a child’s mind and body has no time to process, decompress, heal and restore.”
Bilkis recommends limiting the amount of electronic stimulation to which your child is exposed. Then, she says, the first step to helping your child stop being a victim is to help him relax, release the anger and hurt and regain self-esteem. For cases such as this, Bilkis uses CranioSacral Therapy, which quiets stress and allows the body to go into state of relaxation where healing can occur.
The Holistic Mentorship Network (HMN) is an international trade organization for Holistic Professionals and the community. HMN provides educational about holistic practices, advocacy to fuel support for the industry, and support and resources for practitioners. HMN publishes MARCI™–Mindfulness, Awareness, Responsibility, Compassion and Intuition–a quarterly magazine on health, wellness and sustainable living for holistic practitioners and their patients. For more information visit: www.HolisticMentorshipNetwork.com.