With bullying reaching epidemic proportions in schools across the world, many parents are not only looking for ways to stop it from happening to their child, but to ensure that they are not raising a bully themselves. No good parents want their child to be the one who breaks another child’s spirit. So what can we do to make sure that doesn’t happen? It basically comes down to a combination of raising a child’s self-esteem, teaching right from wrong, and protecting them from negative sociological influences as much as possible.
Tips to Avoid Raising a Bully
- Model good behavior by being kind to others. One of the most important things you can do to avoid raising a bully is to not be a bully yourself. Let your kids see you being kind to other. Kids learn by watching their parents, so if you show them that being respectful of others is the right way to act, they’ll be more likely to follow in your footsteps.
- Encourage a sense of empathy. One of the reasons that bullies are the way they are is because they are unable to recognize how others feel. Empathy is more than just feeling sympathetic to someone going through a rough time; it’s about actually understanding their feelings on a deeper level. If your child comes home and says that a classmate (we’ll call him Bobby) was bullied by another classmate, rather than saying “that must have been hard for little Bobby,” ask “how do you think that made Bobby feel?” Helping your child recognize the feelings of others can go a long way to ensuring that he does his best to respect those feelings.
- Don’t bully yourself in front of your children. We all have issues that we want to work on, and we’re all a little too self-critical of ourselves at times. Constantly beating yourself up in front of you children because you need to lose a few pounds or burned dinner yet again sends a message that it is not okay to be less than perfect. After all, if Mommy berating herself for gaining a few pounds and crying in the bathroom because the numbers on the scale haven’t gone down, then there must really be something wrong with the overweight child in class. To avoid raising a bully, you have to be good to yourself!
- Don’t bully your child! Common sense says that if you want to avoid raising a bully, then treat your child the way you expect them to treat others. Bullying isn’t just spanking and yelling obnoxiously when your child makes a mistake, though. It’s also in the little things that we do without even realizing. Using words like “you never” or “you always” can sound very critical when they’re followed up with a negative. For example, “you never remember to bring your homework folder home! At this rate, you’re going to miss recess for the rest of the school year!” Using words like this is not only over-dramatic; it sends a message to kids that they can’t do anything right. If they can’t get anything right, then why should they bother trying? That’s a lot of stress to put on a child and can wreak havoc on their self-esteem.
- Give praise when it is earned. On the flip side, many parents praise every little thing a child does. While you should definitely praise and encourage good behavior, strong efforts, and creativity, don’t go overboard. If you’re potty training and your child successfully uses the toilet, go ahead and give praise. If they’re ten and successfully use the toilet, that doesn’t really call for a parade. When a child is told that every little thing they do is perfect, they not only never learn new ways of doing things, they may be re unable to accept anything less than perfection in their peers.
These are just a few ways to avoid raising a bully. We’d love to hear your tips on how you deal with issues when your child is the aggressor, and how you foster a sense of empathy towards others.
This is part of our bullying awareness month! Please join this movement by sharing, tweeting, commenting and discussing with your family members! Help us stop this epidemic! Let’s avoid raising a bully!