The bullying conversation is one that every parent needs to have with their child. While some people still hold the belief that bullying is simply a part of childhood that every kid has to navigate, it can be very dangerous. With the Internet and social media, it is extremely difficult for children to escape bullies, even when they are supposedly safe at home. As parents, we need to be both proactive and reactive in order to protect our kids. Read these six tips for avoiding and addressing bullies:
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Be sure to communicate. I cannot stress enough how important it is to establish and maintain open lines of communication with your children. You want your kids to feel comfortable talking to you about everything, so that if an issue does arise, you'll be the first person they turn to. Plus, if they are used to communicating with you in an honest and trusting way, the door will be open for you to advise and instruct them in all areas of life, including how not to be a bully and how to stand up to bullies.
Introduce positive role models. It's your responsibility to model to your children what it means to be a kind person, and that's a big job, but it doesn't all have to land on your shoulders. Your actions will speak for themselves, but it's also a good idea to point out positive behaviors in others and show your kids other productive and engaging members of society to model themselves after--whether it's a sibling, a neighbor, or a trusted friend or family member.
Make them courageous. Use open communication and positive role models to make your kids courageous. Talk to them about the importance of standing up for what's right, helping others and being confident in their moral values. If they can do these things, they'll have a strong base for keeping bullies at bay.
Team up with teachers. Not only do you need to communicate with your kids, but you need to communicate with their teachers. It's good to check in on a regular basis--doing so will leave the door open for teachers to feel comfortable addressing any potential issues with you as they arise. Make sure you ask about any irregularities in your child's social behavior during your regular chats.
Ignore bullies. If your child is confronted by a bully, he needs to know how to handle it. Instruct him to ignore the offender. Most bullies behave the way they do because they want attention and will move on quickly if they don't get what they want. Your kid should know to walk away with confidence rather than egging the bully on or getting physical. Then, he can discreetly report the incident to an authority figure.
Get the full story. If bullying couldn't be prevented and you find yourself in the principal's office alongside your child, try not to get defensive or angry or pin blame on any one person. Do your best to remain calm, cool and collected. Be sure to get both sides of the story, from those directly involved as well as any witnesses. Your child may be in the wrong, and letting your pride get in the way of recognizing that, will not allow him to get the help he needs.
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