6 Tips to Help Your Child Avoid Bullying
By: Valorie Slizoski, CSW
Bullying can lead to school dropout, suicide and legal issues for parents and children. Sometimes it can be hard to spot bullying until it’s too late. So how do you know when it has crossed the line from two kids who don’t get along to a bullying situation?
You know it’s bullying if it is:
- On Purpose – the act is unwanted, aggressive and on purpose.
- Repeated – over time it repeats or could possibly repeat.
- Imbalance of Power – one person has more physical, social or intellectual power over the other in a way that is either felt or seen.
According to a nonprofit group called the Empowerment Initiative, bullying can take many forms. It can be physical (punching, kicking, pushing or breaking things), verbal (name calling, teasing, threats), social (spreading rumors, leaving others out), or electronic (verbal or social bullying that uses electronic media such as social media or online gaming).
Bullies aren’t just bullies and victims aren’t just victims. These roles can change and shift over time. No one wants to think their child could be acting like a bully, but the sad truth is, it can happen even with the nicest kids.
So here are six tips to help your children avoid bullying:
- Get your children involved in their community. Whether it’s a town cleanup or volunteering with older adults, kids who are positively engaged in their town are less likely to bully.
- Talk to your children about being nice to others. Kids are still learning. At times, they may not even realize they’re bullying someone. So, talk to your children about the many types of bullying, to help them spot when they might be acting like a bully. Role play some situations to help them understand.
- Teach your children what to do if they see bullying. Studies say 75% of kids in the U.S. have witnessed bullying. Often, bystanders do not help. But, if they do, 50% of the time the bullying will stop. So, when your children are aware of bullying, encourage them to avoid joining in. Instead, teach them to tell the bully to stop, and then help the victim leave or go tell an adult. Role play this. Show them what to do!
- Stop sibling bullying. Often bullying at home can lead to bullying at school. Older siblings get in the habit of bullying others and younger siblings get tired of being the victim and release that frustration by bullying others at school. Put an end to bullying within your home to help prevent bullying at school.
- Build trust with your children by listening to them when they talk about their day. Ask questions and repeat back what they say to show interest and make sure you grasp the meaning of their stories.
- Remind your children often that you are there to help. Let them know you are a team, and ask them to come to you if they have a problem. This can help children cope in a positive way so they don’t turn to bullying.
Dealing with bullying can be stressful for both parents and kids, and it can leave a lasting impact on your family. At Boone County Health Center, we have many services and resources that can help. Find out more by calling me at 402-395-3109.