Bully-proof your Kids

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Bullying is insidious and your children will experience this phenomenon throughout their lives. One of the best ways to protect your child against bullying is to give them the tools to deal effectively with bullies. Encourage them to always tell an adult when they have been bullied so that their teachers and parents are aware of what is happening at school and can step in should the child’s safety be compromised.

About 1 in 5 high school students were bullied in the last year. Now that bullying is making headline news, schools and parents are working together to help protect children. Taking a stand against bullying is everyone’s responsibility. It’s important to talk to your kids about bullying to ensure that they aren’t harming other students or being bullied themselves.

When you talk about it, you give your child the tools they need to handle bullying when it happens. When kids share their experiences, they learn that they are not alone and they get the help and support they need to deal effectively with the problem.

Start by asking your child’s teacher to share the school’s policy on bullying. If they don’t have a policy in place, work with parents and teachers to formulate one. Here are some additional tips to help your child:

  • If your child is being bullied for lunch money or a cell phone, get them to pack a lunch and leave electronic devices at home.
  • Use the buddy system; get your child to walk to school or the bus with a friend, and ensure that they are in groups of two or more when eating lunch or going to the bathroom.
  • When bullies say hurtful things, it can be difficult to keep calm, but students should tell the bully ‘No!” and walk away. When they don’t rise to the bait, bullies won’t get anything out of the situation.
  • Role playing various situations will help your child to be better equipped to deal with bullies.
  • If your child is the victim of bullying or sees someone else being bullied, they must speak to their teacher and parents about it.
  • Help your child find constructive ways to deal with stress and anxiety so they don’t become overwhelmed by the situation at school.
  • Resist the temptation to address the bully and their parents yourself as this may aggravate the situation. Instead go through administrators and teachers who can help to deal with the situation appropriately.
  • Before you contact the school, make an appointment. Record all the incidents of bullying and be specific about the details. Try to remain calm and patient during the meeting and work to a solution, rather than playing the blame game.

Always listen carefully to your children and take their fears seriously. Validating the way they feel will encourage them to talk to you when bad things happen. When you know what’s happening, you can work with teachers and parents to find a solution to the problem.

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