Discover ways you can prevent bullying in your child’s life
By Sherri Gordon
Bullying happens every day in schools across the country. And the kids who are victimized are left to deal with consequences. Bullying not only impacts learning, but it also impacts the targets’ quality of life, their friendships and even their health. And in its wake kids are left trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of what is happening to them.
No parent wants to see her child bullied. But sometimes parents are at a loss for how to prevent it from happening. While there is no guarantee that you can keep your child from being targeted by bullies, there are things every parent can do to reduce the likelihood. Here are the top five things every parent can do to prevent bullying.
Set a good example. Often the very best way to keep kids from becoming bullies or victims of bullying is to be a good role model. If you treat people with kindness and respect, your kids will likely do the same. But if you are rude, disrespectful and act entitled, your child will emulate this behavior as well.
As a result, it’s very important that parents take a realistic look at their own behaviors. Take a close look at how you treat wait staff, school personnel and even other drivers on the road. If you have anger management issues or you allow people to take advantage of you, then your kids may behave the same way. To prevent bullying in your kids’ lives, be sure you are modeling healthy communication behaviors for them.
Talk to your kids every day. Be sure you set aside time to talk with your kids and more importantly listen to them while they are talking. Find out about their day and ask open-ended questions. The goal is not only to connect with them, but also to gauge how things are going for them.
Research shows that kids who are being bullied often don’t tell anyone what is happening. You can encourage your kids not to fall into that pattern by having frequent conversations with them about their social lives.
Instill a healthy mindset. Kids are less likely to become victims of bullying if they have a healthy outlook on life. Many times kids can avoid bullies if they have a healthy group of friends and a solid self-esteem. You also should impart resiliency and be sure your child has the characteristics needed to cope with bullying should it occur.
Knowing how to deal with relational aggression, cope with cliques and deal with being ostracized also are important skills. And if your child is bullied, take steps to help her overcome bullying. Don’t assume you have failed if your child is bullied. Instead, focus on helping her get her life back on track by watching for issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and thoughts of suicide. And be sure to get your child outside help if the consequences of bullying seem to be taking a toll.
Empower your child to be a good witness. Research shows that kids who witness bullying feel guilty, powerless and helpless. What’s more, bystanders can be as impacted by the bullying as the victim. As a result, it’s important that you empower your kids to be healthy bystanders. You can begin by giving them ideas on what to do if they witness bullying and by instilling good character traits.
Have a conversation about cyberbullying. Because cyberbullying is a growing problem among young people, it’s important that parents talk to their kids about the issue. Instill the importance of good digital etiquette and be sure your child can recognize the five primary types of cyberbullying. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure your child understands the consequences of sexting and other online behaviors. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the ways kids are using technology to harass others. And be sure to take steps to keep your kids safe online.