School staff can do a great deal to prevent bullying and protect students, but they cannot do it alone. When your child is being bullied there are steps you can take to resolve the situation.
In this three-part series on bullying, we will examine what bullying is and what it is not, the warning signs of bullying, the steps to take for preventing and reporting bullying, and how to talk to your child about bullying.
How to Talk About Bullying
Children who know what bullying is can better identify and talk about it when it is happening to them or others. Parents have a role to play in preventing bullying.
Parents should do the following:
- Help children understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to bullying safely. Tell children bullying is unacceptable. Make sure children know how to get help.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with children often and listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
- Encourage children to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help children make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
- Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.
- Encourage children to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. Encourage children to report bullying
- Talk about how to stand up to children who bully. Give tips, like saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if this action does not work, like walking away and reporting to an adult.
- Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other children.
- Encourage children to help others who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Research tells us that children really do look to parents and educators for advice and help when making tough decisions. Sometimes spending at least 15 minutes a day talking can reassure children that they can talk to an adult if they have a problem. Assure children that they are not alone in addressing any problems that may occur.
Start conversations about bullying with questions like these:
- What does “bullying” mean to you?
- Describe what students who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
- Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
- Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
- Have you or your friends left other students out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
- What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
- Do you ever see students at your school being bullied by other students? How does it make you feel?
- Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again? What would you do if it happened to you?
Encourage Children to Do What They Enjoy
Help children take part in school activities, special interests, and or hobbies. Children can volunteer, play sports, sing in the choir, join a student group or school club, etc. These kinds of things give children a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. Children can build confidence and friendships that help protect them from bullying.
Not all children who are bullied ask for help. It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to your child can help identify the root cause of the problem.
What additional questions do you have about bullying? Ask your questions in the comment section below.