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Steps to Take If Your Child is a Victim of Cyberbullying

Steps to Take If Your Child is a Victim of Cyberbullying

Technology is a wonderful thing. The advent of the Internet, smartphones, and social media has made it possible for people to communicate with each other from almost every corner of the globe.

Unfortunately, there are those who choose to use this incredible ability for nefarious means, such as harassing and infringing on the rights of others. As a parent, you need to be aware of the fact that your child will likely face instances of cyberbullying at some point or another in their lives, and you need to know how to deal with it if the situation arises. If you know how to handle cyberbullies and other online harassment, you’ll feel much more at ease whenever your child connects to the web.

Teach Them Not To Respond

Just like real-world bullies, cyberbullies thrive on getting their victims to play back at them. Make sure your children know to never respond to an individual sending threatening or otherwise harmful messages to them electronically.

First of all, your children should know to never stoop to the bully’s level. If they do, they run the risk of saying something threatening themselves, and being just as guilty of cyberbullying as the person bothering them. Instill in your children the idea that they are better than that, and that the strongest action they can take is to simply ignore someone’s attempts at bullying them.

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Secondly, by ignoring the cyberbully, your child takes all the power away from the hurtful individual. If your kid is not willing to engage with the person on the other end of the exchange, then nothing the bully says will affect them.

Save Messages

However, they absolutely should save every word their bully sends them. Usually, there will be no shortage of evidence here, as the bully will continue sending messages – even if your child doesn’t say anything back – with the hopes that something they say will trigger a response.

Though copying and pasting these messages is efficient, it also may not “hold up” as evidence if the incident goes far enough to warrant legal action. The best course of action is to take screenshots of the actual messages, whether on the phone or computer, creating a true replication of the messages in question.

You should also document the time, date, and device on which the messages were received. Once again, if the harassment continues, you want to have as much evidence as possible in order for the authorities to be able to act on your complaint.

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Assess Threat

As an adult, you’re likely to take any threat to your child’s safety seriously. But you should also be able to assess the threats being made, and decide whether the person on the other end is truly putting your child in danger or not.

This isn’t to say that any amount of cyberbullying is OK. But there is a difference between one-off instances in which a classmate of your child called them a name, and ongoing harassment and threats of violence. Depending on the circumstances, you should know how to react and who to inform.

Identify the Perpetrator

There are numerous ways to figure out who the person on the other end of the line is, even if they try to mask their true identity.

If the cyberbully has been texting or calling your child, you can use reverse phone lookup services to at least discover where the phone in question is being used, as well as what service provider the user has.

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You can also use Google to search for screen names and determine if the person on the other end is actually pretending to be someone else.

Still, you may not be able to figure out who the perpetrator is, in which case you should definitely report the suspicious behavior.

Report Abuse

Depending on the severity of the incident(s), there are a number of channels you can go through.

The first step is simply to report the abuse to the service the bully is utilizing, be it Facebook, Snapchat, Kik, or Gmail. These service providers take cyberbullying seriously, as they want their users to have as enjoyable an experience as possible when using them.

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If you know who the child is, you might begin by informing their parents of the misdeeds. In less severe cases, this may be all that is necessary to combat instances of cyberbullying.

If the child attends the same school or district as your child, you may want to involve teachers and administration in order to curb possible instances of physical bullying that may occur on school grounds. Furthermore, school faculty are trained professionals, as well as mandated reporters. If they are witnesses to true bullying and abuse, they are required by law to report it to police.

If it comes to it, you might have to report the abuse to police on your own. By doing so, you allow them to complete a thorough investigation into the matter. At the very least, they will contact the perpetrator and warn them to cease their deeds. If the bullying continues, the police will be forced to take further action,

Assess Privacy

To prevent any of this from happening in the first place, or to prevent it from happening again, go through your children’s online accounts and ensure that their privacy settings are as restrictive as possible. Set their accounts so that those not approved or “friended” can’t view their profile or send them messages.

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If it comes to it, you may want to delete your child’s social media accounts altogether. Though they may not be happy with the decision, they need to know their safety comes first, no matter what.

Featured photo credit: Flickr / Build Me Up – Photo Project [38/365] / love.lee☼ via farm7.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Published on May 21, 2021

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes for kids might be one of the most challenging parts of the day. Parents are tired and ready to relax, while kids of all ages seem to find extra energy and want nothing to do with sleep. One more story, one more trip to the bathroom, and one more question quickly make for a late-night, and no one gets the rest they need.

If this happens often, you might start wondering if you and your child are getting the proper amount of sleep and how to make bedtime easier. Why is it so crucial for your child to get enough sleep? What does sleep deprivation look like? How do you improve bedtimes for kids?

How Sleep Impacts Your Child’s Health

Whether young or old, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. There are many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep while not getting enough can have negative consequences. How does it impact your child?[1]

  • Brain Function – Sleep is linked to certain brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and cognition. These all impact a child’s behavior and academic success.
  • Weight – Sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to regulate food intake, making overeating more likely.
  • Physical Performance – Sleep impacts a person’s physical abilities. Proper rest means better performance, concentration, energy, mental clarity, and faster speed.
  • Physical Health – There are many ways sleep promotes health. Sleep heals the body but also helps prevent disease and health issues. Getting proper rest will regulate blood pressure, help prevent heart disease, reduce chances of sleep apnea, reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and lower risk of weight gain.
  • Improve Mental Health – A lack of sleep has a negative impact on mood and social and emotional intelligence. A child not getting proper sleep is more likely to experience depression, lack empathy and be unaware of other people’s emotions and reactions.

Sleep, Risky Behavior, and Teens

Studies found that teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when they are sleep-deprived. They’ll have problems regulating their mood, making them more short-tempered, aggressive, and impulsive. Their inability to self-regulate can even look like the symptoms of ADHD.[2]

Sleep deprivation becomes hazardous when teens are driving. The impulsiveness and risk-taking, along with exhaustion, put them at a higher risk for accidents. In fact, driving tired is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08.[3]

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You can see why sleep is so essential to everyone’s health, but how much is needed? What do pediatricians recommend? Is it the same for all ages?

Sleep Recommendations From Pediatricians

Sleep requirements vary by age. It won’t be the same for every individual. Some people find that they need more sleep than others.

Here is a basic guideline of what pediatricians now recommend:[4]

  • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

Increase the amount of sleep if your child isn’t thriving on the recommended amount.

Signs Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

There are ways to tell if your child is getting adequate sleep beyond the usual grumpiness. Here are specific things to watch out for:[5]

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  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Difficulty waking up on time
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Inattention
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Impulse control

As you can see, prolonged lack of sleep can cause relational problems and hinder your child’s ability to do well in school. What can you do if you realize your child is not getting enough sleep? How can you improve bedtimes for your kids?

How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

For Babies

Most people think they have to let their baby “cry it out” at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method—or gentle sleep training—is just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress.[6] What is gentle sleep training?

Gentle Sleep Training

This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that’s not too early. A child that isn’t tired will only fight sleep.

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Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it’s later than you’d prefer. You’ll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you’ll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

2. Sleep With Parental Presence

With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less.[7]

Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime:[8]

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  • Help set their “internal clock” by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
  • Block blue light exposure.
  • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
  • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
  • Don’t force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
  • Avoid late afternoon naps
  • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
  • Feed baby right before bed.
  • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

For Elementary-Aged Children

It’s easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it’s never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child’s sleep.

These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period.[9]

  • Offer them a nutritious snack.
  • Bathe them.
  • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
  • Read them a story.
  • Sing them a song.
  • Cuddle or massage them.
  • Talk about the day.

For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

For Teens

They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They’re usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest.[10]

  • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Avoid late-night binging.
  • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Talk through problems.

Quality Sleep for a Healthy Life

Bedtimes for kids can be an enjoyable part of the day with proper sleep hygiene in place. Not only can it be quality time with your child, but it can also set them on the road to good health and high performance. By implementing these tips, you can ensure proper rest for the whole family and better bedtimes for kids.

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Featured photo credit: Igordoon Primus via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medical News Today: Why Sleep Is Essential For Health
[2] Child Mind Institute: Teens And Sleep: The Cost Of Sleep Deprivation
[3] Depart of Health: Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 To 19
[4] AAP publications: AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times
[5] Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership: Sleep Deprivation In Children A Growing Public Health Concern
[6] Parenting Science: Gentle Infant Sleep Training
[7] BetterHealth: Solutions to sleep concerns (11) – babies 6 to 12 months
[8] Parenting Science: 15 Evidence-Based Baby Sleep Tips
[9] Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines For Children
[10] NHS: Sleep Tips For Teenagers

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