Bullying has become a more serious issue for kids nowadays than I remember it being when I was a kid. There are plenty of news stories about the impact that bullying has on kids. And while a lot of schools are placing a greater emphasis on anti-bullying and being a safe space, your kids aren’t always at school or with you. That’s why bully proofing your child is so important.
Whenever my kids come home from school or an outing in a bad mood, one of my first concerns is whether they’ve been bullied or picked on. Fortunately, we haven’t had problems with this, but it is still something that weighs on my mind. Seeing reports of depression and worse that are on the rise in kids, along with increased and refined bullying, it’s important to arm your kids with the proper tools to be bully proof.
Bully proofing your child isn’t a hard or complex thing, and there are probably a bunch of things you’re already doing to help your children be immune to bullying. But in case you’re not sure, or you want to make sure your bases are covered, here’s a list of things you can do to make sure you are bully proofing your child.
Bully Proofing your Child
- Have a chat: Talk to your kids about bullying and share experiences you or family members may have had with bullying while growing up. If one of your kids shares their own experience, praise him for opening up and offer support. If it’s a problem at school, consult with the school administrators and find out how staff and teachers can address the situation.
- Promote positivity: Find or make opportunities to laugh and enjoy life. A child who is bullied is probably upset or in a bad emotional state. Find a way to make them happy by experiencing happy moments. Additionally, be supportive. Make sure your child knows you’re with them no matter what.
- Use the buddy system: Remind your kid to use the buddy system when they’re in areas bullies might lurk — school bus, lockers, bathrooms. Two or more kids standing together are less likely to be picked on than a kid by herself.
- Take away the reason: If the bully is going after your child because of a gadget they bring to school or lunch money or something like that, consider packing lunches for a while and leaving the gadget at home.
- Explore other interests: What kind of interests does your child have? If you take part in activities they enjoy, it will help your kids be happy and feel good about themselves. Don’t worry about something you want them to do, take part in what makes them excited.
- Remain calm: When the aggressor is in the middle of bullying, your kid’s best defense might be to remain calm, ignore the hurtful things the bully is saying, and walk away. If your child doesn’t get riled up by the bully, she may be less likely to be bullied.
- Make them problem solvers: When you solve the problems for your kid all the time, they don’t learn how to problem solve for themselves. Don’t just give your problems the answers, help them explore the possibilities and find a solution for themselves. Help them figure out the impact different actions may take. Set realistic expectations and help them think of solutions to their problems.
- Be a leader: Lead by example and demonstrate to your kids the ways to deal with bullies. They’ll see your actions as a template for how they should respond in similar situations and hopefully internalize those lessons.
- Don’t fight the battle yourself: Your best bet to dealing with the situation may not be to get involved directly, but to use a mediator like a school official or a counselor. Going to the bully’s parents might not always be effective.
Does Bullying have its Place?
Sometimes I think a little bullying may be good for kids in the long run, kind of like building up anti-bodies when you get sick. I was subject to some bullying as a kid, and I believe that helped me build a tolerance to it and stop worrying about it. If I was bullied and I let it show to the bullies that it bothered me, they would only bully more. If I ignored them then they’d lose interest and leave me alone.
I realized that the things the bullies said and did didn’t have an impact on my life and I didn’t let them get to me. As an adult, it helps me see past the bullying that others might do and avoid it or stand up to it. That said, I know that not everyone processes this kind of negative behavior the same, and there are probably plenty of people that had the opposite reaction to bullying that I did.
Bullying and You
Now that you’ve read the ways to bully proof your child, what do you think? Do you take steps to prevent your kids from being bullied? Do you talk to them about this kind of behavior and build up their bully armor?