How to Bully-Proof your Child

Bullying begins in preschool and gains momentum as kids grow. Depending on which survey you read, between 40 and 80 per cent of middle schoolers admit to bullying behaviour. Many children report missing school and avoid spending time with friends to escape bullying. Not only is Bullying pervasive, but it has also become increasingly dangerous so that children are committing suicide or being beaten to death by their bulliers.

Bully-proof Lagosmums

What is bullying?

Bullying is repeated aggressive behavior that can be physical, verbal, or relational, in-person or online. Bullies are often relentless, bullying over and over again for long periods of time. You may live in constant fear of where and when the bully will strike next, what they’ll do, and how far they’ll go.

Forms of bullying

Physical bullying – includes hitting, kicking, or pushing you (or even just threatening to do so), as well as stealing, hiding, or ruining your things, and hazing, harassment, or humiliation.

Verbal bullying – includes name-calling, teasing, taunting, insulting, or otherwise verbally abusing you.

Relational bullying – includes refusing to talk to you, excluding you from groups or activities, spreading lies or rumors about you, making you do things you don’t want to do.

Studies have shown that boys frequently bully using physical threats and actions, while girls are more likely to engage in verbal or relationship bullying

The good news is that bullying is preventable, and you can bully-proof your child — and keep him from becoming a bully.

Here are some tips on how to bully-proof your child.

1. Model compassionate, respectful relationships from the time your child is small.

The best way to keep children from being bullied is to make sure they have high self-esteem and strong relationships at home. Children learn both sides of every relationship, and they can act either one.

If you spank, your child will learn that physical violence is the way to respond to interpersonal problems.  If your discipline methods use power over your child, he will learn to use power over others or to let others use power over him.  Don’t worry, you don’t need that kind of discipline.  For compassionate discipline that works, see the Aha! section on Positive Discipline.

2. Stay connected to your child through thick and thin.

Lonely kids are more likely to be bullied, and to let themselves be bullied. Remember, parenting is 90% connection — a close relationship with your child — and only 10% guidance.  The guidance won’t stick unless you have the relationship to support it, and will just drive your child away.  Keep those lines of communication open, no matter what.

3. Model confident behaviour with other people.

If you tend to back down easily so you don’t make a scene, but then later feel pushed-around, it’s time to change that. Your child is learning from watching you. Experiment with finding ways to assert your own needs or rights while maintaining respect for the other person.  It’s also important not to put yourself or your child down, because you’re teaching her to follow in your footsteps.

4. Directly teach your child respectful self-assertion.

Give him words to stick up for himself early on:

“It’s my turn now.”

“I want a turn now.”

“Hey, stop that.”

“Hands off my body.”

“It’s not okay to hurt.”

“I don’t like being called that. I want you to call me by my name.”

5. Teach your child basic social skills.

Kids who are outsiders are more likely to be bullied.  Bullies prey on children whom they perceive to be vulnerable, including needy children who are so desperate for peer acceptance that they continue to hang around a group of peers even when one of the group leaders begins to mistreat them.

Roleplay with your child how to join a game at the playground, introduce themselves to another child at a party, or initiate a playdate. Kids who are successful in joining groups of kids usually observe first and find a way to fit into the group, rather than just barging in.  Make games out of social skills and practice at home.

6. Teach your child basic bully avoidance.

Bullies operate where adults aren’t present, so your child should avoid unsupervised hallways, bathrooms, and areas of the playground.

Sitting in the front of the school bus, standing in the front of the line, and sitting at a lunch table near the cafeteria chaperones are all good strategies for bully avoidance.

7. Teach your child that there is no shame 

There is no shame in being frightened by a bully, in walking away, or in telling an adult and asking for help.

Bullying situations can escalate, and saving face is less important than saving their life.

8. Coach your child to handle teasing and bullying by role-playing.

Research shows that bullies begin with verbal harassment.  How the “victim” responds to the first verbal aggression determines whether the bully continues to target this particular child.  If the aggression gives the bully what he’s looking for — a feeling of power from successfully pushing the other child’s buttons — the aggression will generally escalate.

It’s imperative to discuss this issue with your child BEFORE he is subject to bullying, so he can stand up for himself successfully when a bully first “tests” him.

Roleplay with your child how he can stand up to a bully. Point out to your child that the bully wants to provoke a response that makes him feel powerful, so showing emotion and fighting back is exactly what the bully feeds off.

Explain that while he can’t control the bully, he can always control his own response. So in every interaction, how he responds will either inflame the situation or defuse it.
Your child needs to avoid getting “hooked” no matter how mad the bully makes him.

The best strategy is always to maintain one’s own dignity, and to let the “bully” maintain his dignity, in other words, not to attack or demean the other person. To do this, simply say:

“You know, I’m just going to ignore that comment.”

“I think I have something else to do right now.”

“No thank you.”

Then, just walk away.

Anti-Bullying Week 2019

Anti-Bullying Week happens in schools across England each November. This year’s Anti-Bullying Week has the theme Change Starts With Us and is happening from Monday 11th November – Friday 15th November 2019.

The theme: Change Starts With Us 

Small change. Big difference.

Whether it is verbal, physical, online or in-person, bullying has a significant impact on a child’s life well into adulthood. By making small, simple changes, we can break this cycle and create a safe environment for everyone. Because together, we can challenge bullying. Change starts with a conversation. It starts with checking in. It starts with work together.

Change starts here. It starts now and it starts with us.

The goal this year is to inform schools and settings, children and young people, parents and carers to know that it takes a collective responsibility to stop bullying. We are excited about this campaign as we want to create empowering, positive messages addressing the fact that when it comes to bullying CHANGE STARTS WITH US!

It is never too early or too late to bully-proof your children. Teach your child to count to ten to stay calm, look the bully in the eye, and say calm words instead of harsh words. Practice until your child has a strong, self-assured tone and you can be sure to raise a child free of bully.

Click to read: [How To Teach Children To Choose Respect Over Bullying]

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