What are you looking for?

Parenting Advice

How To Beat Bullying

Written by Melody Morgan Sorensen

Photography by Photo Via ONE Healthcare Worldwide

The fear that your child is (or will be) bullied is one of the most common concerns of modern parenting. And since it’s National Bully Prevention Month, we wanted to learn more about when, and how, to intervene if bullying ever rears its ugly head into our children’s lives. Expert Jessie Klein, author of The Bully Society, shares what parents can look out for, what they can do, and how to move forward.

Catch It Early: “Young people as early as age 2 or 3 exclude one another and make hurtful comments or even engage in physically painful ways,” says Klein. “Hurtful behavior among toddlers is often accidental, but already in preschools, students are made to feel excluded and told they can’t play or can’t be friends with one person or another. Physically hurtful behavior also takes place in preschools and it is avoidable.”

Look For Signs: “People generally present as sad when they experience hurtful behavior. Young people should be able to actualize themselves in positive and enthusiastic ways. If our children seem upset, we should take their concerns seriously and try to become more aware of the dynamics they experience at school.”

What You Can Do: “Children (and adults) need to have others listen to them and reflect back to them their feelings and needs. For instance, you could say, ‘It sounds like you are feeling sad. And you value people being included. Is that right? Let’s talk about different ways you can feel more included and help others feel more included, too.'”

What Your School Can Do: “It is so important to create compassionate communities in schools. Schools need to encourage their community members to support one another, collaborate, and help each other in as many activities as they can. They also need to encourage their community members to learn a language that helps them express and hear one another’s feelings and needs.”

Talk To Other Parents:
“Most parents want their children to be caring and responsible people who are able to treat themselves and others well. Parents would do well to talk to one another if they are able to speak without blaming each other, but rather in such a way as to build connections among both the adults as well as the children. If parents are able to intervene early, they can work in a grassroots way with other parents to improve the relationships among the children. Unless the behavior has become dangerous, administrators are not always the best people to intervene. Parents can often move mountains if they empower themselves and one another.”

Observe Relationships: “Parents and other role model adults should ideally teach their children how to be compassionate, caring, and generous to themselves and one another. If this is not the dominant behavior parents see between their children and their children’s classmates (or other children in the community), they should explore further what kinds of relationships are taking place.”

Know When To Move On: “If a parent has tried to work with other parents/families, teachers, and administrators, and is not able to help create a better situation for their children, it is wise to move to a new school—or, if possible, a new location. The emotional and physical health of our children should be paramount. Continued hurtful behavior can be traumatic, whether it is physical and/or emotional.”

Have Hope: “A child I know was being treated badly by four girls in his school. The parent first spoke to the school, but nothing was done. The parent made a list with her son about what could be done to help him—a free-streaming brainstorm. After crossing out the crazy ideas like ‘send the girls to the moon,’ the boy said he wanted the parent to speak with the parents of the girls. The parent spoke to each parent following this conversation and the parents were grateful to receive the call. They did not want their daughters to be mean to anyone. The girls admitted they felt pressure to be mean, but they didn’t know how to get out of the situation because they wanted to be included. The parents of the girls worked hard to help their daughters develop healthier friendships and the hurtful behavior towards the boy completely stopped.”

Write a Comment

Share this story