There is an increasing trend that needs to stop. Bullying of children is contributing to isolationist behavior, cutting or self mutilation, and most tragically, suicide. Many schools have a zero tolerance policy against bullying, but that is not always working. Children are afraid to report bullies. What can we do as mothers and fathers to prevent bullying?
Not Just Bruises – Words Hurt
Children often do not realize that their words might hurt others. They think it is understood that they are just kidding, but their friend may not see it that way. This type of bullying, often explained away as teasing, can be the most damaging to children. Sometimes it is not even intentional. Children and adults alike are guilty of bullying in this way. Encourage all children and adults that work with children to think before they speak.
- T – Is it True?
- H – Is it Helpful?
- I – Is it Inspiring?
- N – Is it Necessary?
- K – Is it Kind?
Children, and adults, can use this acronym to temper their words with love. Teach your children to think and ask themselves these questions before they speak, to determine if what they are about to say might be hurtful. Remind them of the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And remind your children that being a “bystander“ is just as bad – teach them to speak out against bullying.
Something Is Not Right – Signs of Bullying
As parents, we know our children best. Consequently, we should notice any change in behavior that might indicate our child is being bullied. Check to see if your child comes home with missing or damaged clothing or belongings. Look for unexplained cuts or bruises. Take note if your child is fearful of going to school. If they are being bullied, they may have a sudden loss of appetite or suddenly complain of a stomach ache. These are just a few examples of signs. You will know if there is something wrong with your child. Just trust your gut instinct.
What Now? – Dealing With Your Child Being Bullied
Talk with your child. Foster a relationship with them that allows them to be open and honest about who and what is bothering them. Talk with the school staff to get their opinion on the situation. If nothing more, it will alert them to the possibility that something is wrong. If the bullying is happening in school and they can document it, then they will hopefully deal with it appropriately. Let your child know that you are supporting them and value them. They may also need counseling after being bullied.
With thoughtfulness and love there will be less bullying. I hope that we can make kindness and love as contagious as bullying has been. Hug your child and let them know you love them. Check out this article for Bullying Prevention Tips.
Has your child experienced bullying? How have you taught your children to be kind others?
Updated December 2013 by Kimberly