With bullying such a common problem in today’s society parents can’t afford to ignore this issue. Here are 10 quick tips for parents to be proactive about bullying. These ideas will help children feel better about themselves and consider the feelings of others – useful strategies for children whether they are being bullied or are doing the bullying.
1. Respect your child’s positive qualities and tell them what they are to boost their self-esteem. The better children feel about themselves the more bully proof they are and the less likely they are to bully others.
2. Model respectful behavior yourself – our children copy what we do. E.g. How do you react if someone cuts you off in traffic and your children are in the car?
3. Listen to your children with empathy so they grow to show it for others. Saying things like “That must have been very scary for you” helps your children, because their feelings are being acknowledged and they truly feel heard.
4. Encourage your child’s social and emotional intelligence by talking about feelings and how other people feel. Questions like: “What do you think it was like for the others when that happened?” help children to see things from outside of their egocentric point of view.
5. Talk to your children about aggressive, submissive and assertive behavior so they understand about power in relationships.
6. Notice when your children are behaving well and tell them! Focusing on positive behavior is such a simple way to get more of it as well as boosting your children’s self-esteem!
7. Give your children opportunities to share their ideas about fighting and bullying and what might work to stop it. Ask questions like: “If … happened, what could you do to keep yourself safe?” to allow children to work out what they could do by themselves.
8. Teach them some concrete strategies to try as well. E.g. instead of focusing on the bullying imagine the bully swelling up and popping. Strategies like this which help a child stay calm can be very helpful. When children learn to be aware of their reactions and the part this plays in being bullied, they can choose to react differently.
9. Stay up to date with your child’s school’s bullying policy and about bullying in general. What do you know about bullying and technology? Find out more about cyberbullying so you are informed.
10. Support your children in solving their own fights or bullying issues rather than stepping in and doing it for them. Remember your response as a parent models a powerful message for your children.
Two coaching questions that are helpful around bullying are:
1. How do I show respect to my children?
2. Am I supporting them to solve their own problems?
If you ask yourselves coaching questions such as these everyday you will be building a close and loving relationship with your children as well as supporting them to deal with bullying and other challenges to the best of their capabilities. After all, isn’t this what children need as they grow towards independence?
Barbara Beccari M.Ed and parent-coach, is co-author of a beautiful children’s picture book about respectful relationships. Barbara is co-founder of parentSCOPE, a parent-coaching business acknowledged for its innovation. parentSCOPE supports parents to have loving and close relationships with their children, from babies to teens. Check out http://www.parentscope.com.au to find out more.