How to Combat Bullying
As parents, we all want our children to be healthy, happy, and well-adjusted. We want them to feel safe and secure, and we want to do everything in our power to keep them from harm. But what if harm is coming to them on the playground or online? Some types of harm, like bullying, can be insidious and hard to identify if your child doesn't speak up about it. To combat bullying, it's best to start talking to your children about it from an early age to nip it in the bud before it happens. For National Anti-Bullying Day, the Tesa Babe team researched and put together a few useful tips on how to have a conversation with your children about bullying.
Practice anti-bullying offense
The best way to combat bullying before it even begins is to talk to your child about bullying from an early age. Using age-appropriate language and materials, you can start this conversation with your children even as early as kindergarten. From such a young age, this conversation can simply look like talking about compassion and empathy. You can teach your kids to treat others how they want to be treated, and let them know that the people who are not following that golden rule are in the wrong. If they grow up knowing that compassion, empathy, and kindness are the correct behaviors, they will have an easier time recognizing a bully when they see one.
As your children grow up, keep the conversation going and expand it. Let them know that bullying can happen in real life but also online and that wherever it occurs, it's wrong. You can even use examples of bullying behavior in movies or TV shows to talk to your kids about why that's wrong and what compassionate behavior looks like instead.
Build up their self-esteem
Often, kids who are bullied have a complicated psychology. They may feel that they are to blame or that they deserve to be treated badly. As your child grows up, make sure they know that they deserve to be happy and to feel safe, and that no one has the right to treat them poorly.
Teach them about bullies
As your child gets older, you can expand the conversation to talking about the bullies themselves. Let them know that if they are being bullied or that if they see someone else being bullied, it's never the fault of the victim. Bullies are people who feel scared, sad, or insecure themselves and they bully others to make themselves feel more powerful. Making sure your children know this will help them understand bullying behavior so that they don't find it "cool" or "funny".
Teach them to band together
There are more kids who treat each other well than there are bullies. Knowing this will help kids band together to combat a bully when they see one.
Set a good example in the home
Many times children either learn bullying behavior or learn to accept bullying from the examples they see in the home. Setting a good example by treating your children and your partner with kindness and empathy will help teach your kids to give and accept only kindness and empathy. Also, if you see bullying behavior between siblings, it's always a good idea to intervene.
Go over potential bullying scenarios with your kids so they know how to recognize bullying when they see it and they know how to respond. Let them know that it can happen in person or online. One of the most important things to tell your children is not to react. Bullies want to get a rise out of their victims, so not getting flustered is very important. Sit down with your child and come up with four prepared responses that your children feel comfortable with saying if they ever find themselves being bullied.
Let them know it's safe to tell you
Being bullied can bring up feelings of shame for a child, and many times they may not want to speak up about it. Dr. Allan Beane, founder of the Bullying Prevention Program, says that if your child does tell you they're being bullied, chances are it's already been happening for a long time. Beane says it's important that you let your child know that it's okay to tell you they're being bullied, and that if they do tell you, to let them know you're glad they told you. Tell them that you will support them and help them through this, and that things will get better.
Children are not the only ones who can band together against bullying. We as parents can too! There is strength in numbers and the more of us who help our children stand up to bullies, the stronger our children will be in the face of bullying.