Sending your kids off to school can be an exciting time. But, it can also be kind of stressful to send them into an environment free from your supervision.
Unfortunately, bullying among kids is fairly common — at least, more common than it should be. And in national surveys, most kids and teens admit that bullying happens at school.
Bullying can be traumatic. It diminishes self-esteem, could leave kids feeling depressed and anxious, or even lead to threats, property damage, or someone getting seriously hurt.
The best way to prepare your child to deal with bullying is to talk about it before it happens. Here are some tips on talking to your kid about bullying so that they can be prepared for anything.
Take the time to talk to your child about what bullying is. Make sure they know that if something happens — in school, on the playground, or even online — that they should let you know before the situation gets out of hand.
With bullying, it’s often critical not to engage and feed the behavior. Make sure your child knows that you will support them and help figure out how to work it out.
Remind Your Child You’ve Been There
Let your child know that you were the same age as them once, walking school hallways and struggling with similar — if not the same — social pressures or feelings that they might be facing.
In fact, sharing personal experiences can help create a more open space for your child to feel comfortable with sharing their own stories and listening to advice.
On top of that, acknowledging that they are not alone will also establish a deeper connection with them and give them reassurance and support.
Explain Why Kids Might Bully
It’s important to explain to your child that bullying says less about the victim personally than it does about the bully.
Kids often torment others because of how they’ve been treated, or because they learned behaviors from TV shows. It’s usually in an effort to feel more important, popular, or in control.
Practice Appropriate Responses
Statistics show that at least one out of every five students report being bullied. The best thing you can do for your child against those staggering numbers? Make sure they’re prepared in the event they encounter a bully.
Have a dialogue, and perhaps practice with role-play. Have your child prepare a few lines that they can say to deflect the situation. It will help your child react appropriately if they find themselves insulted or humiliated, without adding fuel to the fire.
Teach Your Kid to Find Allies
Encourage your child to strike a deal with friends: they should stick up for each other no matter what. Studies show that the most effective way to battle bullying is to stand together. Bullies usually back down when bystanders step in and say, “Hey, that’s my friend. Don’t do that.”