But you can arm your children with tools to help mitigate the potential damage of unwanted, aggressive behavior in the form of physical or verbal assaults, or social exclusion.
The good news is we can teach our children how to stand up to bullies and not become victims if they are targeted. A bully’s power is in fear. Giving our kids the tools and confidence to stand up to a bully removes their power. Check out these simple steps you can take to “bully proof” your child:
1.Talk about it.Discuss with your child what bullying is and the different forms it can take.Talk about why it is wrong and what they can do about it. Teach empathy and respect for others and be a good example yourself.Starting this conversation early on is the first step in empowering your child.
2.Build confidence. A confident child is far less likely to be targeted by bullies. Help your child discover and celebrate their gifts and talents. Sports and hobbies can foster physical confidence and skill as well as teamwork and leadership skills.
3.Teach (and model) assertiveness. Dr. Susan Lipkins, a child psychologist, says, "Fifty percent of the time, if you just say ‘no’ to a bully, they'll stop. So, we need to teach kids how to protect their space, how to be firm and how not to be a victim." Coach your child on how to say, ‘no’ and walk away with confidence, instead of running in fear.
4.Foster friendships.It is true that there is safety in numbers. Help your child make friends in school and in other circles.
5.Get involved.Show up on the playground; volunteer at your school, or help coach the soccer team. Getting to know the other kids and parents will help you identify and address issues effectively before they become major conflicts.
6.Stay informed.Know what your school policies on bullying are and what resources are available for dealing with problems. Know what steps you can take if your child is bullied.
7.Back them up.Let your child know that they can always tell you about a problem, and, that you’ve got their back. Coach them on how to get help from a teacher or another trusted adult.
We can’t always protect our children from every encounter with a bully.But we can help them to help themselves.
For more resources on bully-proofing your child check out these websites: