How can we protect our kids from bullying? Well, maybe we can’t fully “protect” them from ever feeling the pain of being bullied. However, as caring adults we can certainly guide them and provide support. Here is wisdom from Five Actions Adults Can Take NOW to Protect Kids from Bullying which can help inform us so that we can best care for the youngsters in our life. These tips are adapted from KidPower International.
Ways to Talk with Kids About Bullying
First of all, take charge of your own feelings so that you act calmly instead of overreacting. It’s normal to feel worried and upset when you learn about a potential threat to your child’s well being, but if you get very upset, your child may try to take care of you or shut down.
Also, make sure that the child knows that you care. Don’t assume that a child knows. No matter how busy you are, tell young people often, “Your safety and well being are the most important things in the world to me. If anything bothers you, I want to know, and I will do my best to help you.”
Avoid Lectures of Advice-Giving
Listen in a calm, caring way when young people come to you with their problems. No matter what you think they should have done differently, or how trivial it seems to you, no matter how busy you are, start by saying, “Thank you for telling me.” Remember that a child who is complaining about someone needs help – even if this help is in finding more positive ways of getting attention or being powerful.
Be compassionate rather than telling kids not to be upset or giving a lecture. For now, leave your advice on the shelf. Ignoring or suppressing upset feelings might cause a child to hide these feelings from you, but does not make the hurt go away. Hidden hurt can build up like the pressure inside of a soda bottle and might explode into unsafe actions. Instead, kids can learn to manage upset feelings if they feel safe talking about them, get support in solving problems and learn how to manage their emotions.
Tips for Helping A Child Who is Being Bullied
Show kids you care by following through and doing something to solve the problem, even if it is difficult. If a child is being bullied, showing you care means:
- Providing ongoing support in a calm, reassuring way
- Insisting on solutions including changing schools or classrooms if the situation doesn’t get better
- Getting professional help if the child stays upset or shows signs of mental health problems
- Finding new friends or social groups outside of school where the child is accepted
- Having the child learn skills through a class such as those offered by Kidpower.
Because kids often forget, keep reminding them. Ask once in a while, “Is there anything you’ve been wondering or worrying about that you have not told me?”
For more ideas on what to do if your child is being bullied, see Bullying in Schools: Seven Solutions for Parents.