6 bullying tips for parents
By Violence and Bullying Team Leader Tabatha Floyd
Summer break is rapidly fading and it is almost time to return to school. For some children, returning to school can be a scary time if they are dealing with a bully. As parents, we want to protect our kids from anything harmful, including other not-so-nice children. We can’t always be by their side, but we can teach them how to handle themselves in a tough situation. Here are six ways you can help your children face bullying.
- It starts with you! The most important thing we can do for our children is to be there. Let your children know they can always count on you to listen and give positive advice and feedback. Ask open ended questions to get a better picture about the situation.
- You should also be a positive role model. Be accepting of all people. If your children hear you spreading rumors, gossiping, or being critical or judgmental of someone else, they will think that is acceptable behavior. Also take up for yourself when someone doesn’t respect you! Even when you think they aren’t watching, kids are taking note on how you handle stress and conflict. It is also important to have frequent conversations about what it means to be a good friend.
- Teach your child not to be a bystander. Encourage your child to tell the bully to stop, or to walk away and get help from a trusted adult. When no one speaks up, the bully learns he/she can get away with it. Remind them that most people are good at heart but are afraid to be the first person to speak up. When one person is courageous, others follow suit pretty quickly.
- Another good way to build resiliency in your child is to build their self confidence. We can’t all be the star quarterback or the head cheerleader, but everyone is talented. Sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper to find our hidden talent. Bowling leagues, art clubs, and music programs are great places for your child to learn, grow, and make new friends. Friends are also great for building self confidence! Encourage your child to set goals and then celebrate their achievements. When a person has good self confidence, it is harder for someone to make them feel bad about themselves. Bullies tend to look for people who are shy and alone. If your child is surrounded by friends, they are a harder target for bullies. Most friends would also take up for someone in their group.
- The last tip is to use positive discipline and teach nonviolence. Teach them that using violence to solve problems or deal with anger only makes their problems worse. Have them consider all possible solutions like: Is this solution fair? Is this solution safe? How will people feel if I pick this solution? Does it solve my problem? Sometimes we may pick the easy answer that is fair and safe but it doesn’t solve our problem. Decision making is like any other skill. We need practice to become good decision makers!
- If all else fails, get help! If you are worried about your child, talk to someone who is more experienced. School counselors, school support groups, private therapists, or even your family health-care provider can provide you with more information about bullying prevention.