This guest blog is written by Trevor McDonald
As parents, we want to shield our children from hurt and pain of any kind, but sending them off to school can leave us feeling powerless.
Bullying causes immediate emotional damage, but it can lead to problems later in life too. Childhood bullying has been associated with future issues such as antisocial personality disorder, substance abuse, and depressive disorder.
And this isn’t a small-scale problem.
One in five children report being victims of bullying. So, what do you do when your son or daughter comes home in tears because they were bullied at school? The good news here is that you aren’t powerless against bullying. These five ways to stop bullying and teach kindness can help you and your child address this problem head-on.
5 Ways to Stop Bullying
- Get the full scoop. Bullying can leave a child feeling embarrassed and isolated, so they may not be forthcoming in sharing the details of their experience. Get into the habit of asking detailed questions about your child’s day. Ask things like who they’ve played with and where they sat to eat lunch. If you get the sense that your child is being bullied, let him or her know that it’s okay to talk about these things. Bullying is common, unfortunately, and you can help your child handle this situation.
- Help your child nurture good friendships. Talk to your child about the importance of having good friends. Teach him or her how to be a good friend through sharing, listening and helping others. Strong friendships may not stop bullying, but they will help keep your child from feeling isolated throughout these difficult times. Your child should know that there are bullies and good people in this world, and we have to choose who we focus our time and energy on.
- Exhibit kindness in the face of adversity. Children learn best by example. So if they see you responding with kindness to other people’s bad behavior, they are likely to do the same. You can also explain that children and adults who feel the need to bully are often dealing with family or self-esteem issues. Although it is difficult to recognize this at the time, those who need our love most are often the most difficult to love.
- Be assertive. Show your children that it’s okay to demand respect in all areas of your life. This means that you should respectfully stand up for yourself at all times. This isn’t about arguing or stooping to the level of a bully. It’s about learning how and when to walk away when you are feeling disrespected.
- Foster strong emotional intelligence. In an ideal world, we could simply stop bullies from bullying. But this isn’t an ideal world. Instead, we must focus on teaching our children about their emotions and empathy. Oftentimes, when a child bullies, it’s because they are hurting in some way. Try to teach your child to understand that acting out is often a cry for help. This doesn’t mean your child is the one to help the bully, but it should help him or her understand that the bully’s words and actions are more about the bully than your child.
Just as it’s important to teach your child how to handle bullies, it’s crucial that your child understands that it’s never okay to make someone feel bad on purpose. Teach them to be kind to everyone, especially those who are victims of bullying. This world could use more kindness, and it all starts at home.
Teach your child effective strategies for handling bullying now and he or she will be well equipped to handle adversity in the future.
about the author…Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.