Bullying has become a widespread problem in schools across the country and online. The first step to counteracting this behavior is to talk to your kids at home about what bullying is and what they can do if they are being bullied or see other children being bullied. Here are a few tips to help you have an effective discussion with your kids.
Help Children Understand Bullying
First, make sure your kids fully understand what constitutes bullying and the negative effects it can have on others. What might seem like a harmless joke to one person could be very hurtful to someone else. Help your kids understand that teasing and bullying are never acceptable.
On the other hand, your kids should also know that if they are being teased or bullied at school, there are things they can and should do to stop that type or behavior from continuing.
Make Your Discussion Age-Appropriate
When talking with a five-year-old about bullying, your discussion is going to be very different than it would be if you were talking to your teenager. Try to tailor your talk to include real-life examples that are easy to understand for your child’s age group and learning level.
You can explain to a younger child, for example, that calling someone a mean name isn’t nice because it can cause hurt feelings. When talking to a teen, you can go into more detail about the psychological effects that bullying can have and why it is so important that teens stick up for their peers who may be victims of constant bullying.
Explain How to Stand up to a Bully
If your child is being bullied or witnesses someone else being bullied, equip him or her with some effective ways to handle this situation. These might include tips like:
- Using humor to deflect the situation
- Assertively saying, “Stop!”
- Walking away
- Getting an adult involved if the bullying doesn’t stop
Finally, it’s important to keep an open line of communication with your child to help him or her more easily talk about problems at school or concerns about bullying. Make it a normal part of your day to ask your child how school was, what good things happened, and if anything bad happened that day.
Parents should also keep an eye on their kids’ activity levels and interests in sports, hobbies, and hanging out with friends. If you notice that your child is becoming disinterested in activities that he or she used to enjoy doing or has withdrawn from social life, start a friendly and open discussion about whether bullying could be to blame.