A Guest Post
Paying close attention to or holding friendly talks with kids can help uncover the challenges they face daily. However, try as you might, not all kids want to tell their parents about everything go through. Bullying is the classic example of something often kept secret, and this can often result in disaster. Helping a child overcome bullying is a very important task for all parents, whether or not they're actually going through anything at the moment. Today might be fine, but tomorrow might hold unforeseen challenges.
Make sure your kids understand their rights so that they can stand up against anyone who tries to violate them. When children understand their rights, they're less likely to allow anyone to infringe on them, even when the tormentor looks physically stronger than them. Instilling self -confidence in the child can help them put off bullies. Teach your child how to focus on the positive aspects of their personality - they may not feel very slick, but they may be extremely smart, funny or creative. Help them to explore their stronger side and revel in what they can create with their talents. Then, communicate your pride and gratitude for what they do, to build up a sense of pride within them. Finally, encourage them to illustrate this pride by instructing them to walk confidently with shoulders high, maintain eye contact, stand up straight and remain composed under pressure.
Whether or not your child has told you they're a victim of bullying (but especially if they have) you need to communicate clearly and adamantly that you support your child no matter what. Let them know you’re 100% behind them - forever, and remind them that no matter what, you will always be there for them. The power of this tip is two-fold: not only are you communicating your unconditional love, you're also exhibiting the power of clear communication. Encourage them to imitate you in sticky situations - utterances like move away, stop it, leave me alone, don’t push me or don’t ever touch me again can help diffuse tension or at least buy time for your child to get away.
You must make sure that your child understands how bullying works. One can only be bullied if they allow another person to hurt them or make them feel a certain way. However, this won't stop bullies from causing trouble. Therefore, kids should also know that they are never alone. Be sure that your kids know that besides you, there are siblings, teachers, counselors, police and more on their side. They should never be afraid to tell someone when they are uncomfortable - so that whatever is happening can stop.
Be a Role Model
Whether or not you want to believe it, you should remember that your child may in fact be a kind of bully themselves. Therefore, you need to model respectable behavior. Parents shouldn't be cowed by their neighbors, bosses, partners, or spouses into talking about friends behind their back. Furthermore, you shouldn't let anyone bully you! Always remember the example you are setting for your kids. Follow through with this at home - make sure that all of your children respect the personal rights and boundaries of one another.
Bullying is scary. However, the approach that we as parents take can make all the difference. Do your best to help your children understand how to handle bullying on a daily basis. This includes teaching them how to stand up for themselves, but also quite a bit of reflection of your own.
Katelyn Milhaus is an aspiring high school guidance counselor who writes all about child development. Her recent work is on the Top 25 Smart Choice Schools for Online Counseling and Human Services Degrees.