Schools all across the country are facing the dilemma of bullying.  Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort.  Bullying can threaten children’s physical and emotional safety at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn.  It can lead children and teenagers to feel tense and afraid. Often times, children may lose sleep, feel sick, avoid going to school, or react in a violent manner.  As our children head back to school, this is a perfect time to talk about bullying.  The best way to prevent bullying is to stop it before it starts. There are a number of things that parents can do to help protect their children and to prevent bullying. Below you will find 5 ways to bully-proof your kids to promote a healthy and productive school year.

Be a Good Role-Model: Too often we say to our children how we want them to act but we behave differently.  Take a real look at yourself and ask how do you treat wait staff at a restaurant, the front office staff at your child’s school or even other drivers on the road. If you allow people to walk all over you or you are too aggressive with others, you may be instilling the same behaviors in your children.  Modeling healthy communication behaviors is one way to prevent bullying.  Healthy communication behaviors include using “I” statements, taking a break when you are frustrated and using empathy when dealing with others.

Talk to Your Child Every Single Day: Bullying alone is a tough topic for kids to talk about with their parents. Establish a time afterschool to just talk with your child. This can be during dinner time, a walk around the block or during commercial time when watching T.V.

Ask your child:

  • What made you happy (sad) today?
  • If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
  • Where do you play most at recess?

By being engaged in their social lives, children will feel comfortable and know that they can come to you with their happy moments and their problems.

Instill a Healthy Mindset: Many times, children can avoid bullies if they have solid self-esteem and a positive group of friends.  Children are less likely to bully other kids if they have a healthy outlook on life and know how to cope with cliques, and peer pressure. In fact, many kids with a healthy self-esteem and healthy friendships never even consider hurting another person with words or actions online or in real life.

Empower Your Child to be an Upstander: Teach your child to be assertive; to stand up for their right and the rights of others. One way to empower your child and get them comfortable to be assertive is allow them the freedom to make choices about things they are asked to do. Assure your child that they can say “no” to any requests that make them feel uncomfortable.

If they witness bullying they can respond by:

  • Avoid joining in or laughing.
  • Tell the bully to stop.
  • Walk away and alert an adult.

Educate Your Child about Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a growing problem among young people and if your child uses social media (WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram etc.) it is important to talk about the issue with them. Also, it is important to instill in them to keep their messages and posts positive and truthful.  Teaching your child how to interact online is an ongoing process and not a one-time conversation or going over a list of rules.  It requires you to engage with your children on a regular basis and use real-life situations as learning experiences.

If your child is struggling with self-esteem issues and/or is a victim of bullying, please feel free to contact Clarity Therapy at 313.427.8388 or for support.