October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Having conversations in the home with children about bullying can not only prevents potential conflicts in the classroom, but can also prepare your child for being confronted by a bully. Here are five strategies for talking to young children about bullying:
1. Get to Know Their Social Life
Checking in daily with your child is the best way to know when social dynamics begin to change in a way that could indicate bullying. Encourage your child to talk about their friends, sports teams, and how their classes are going. Your questions are a great way to show that you care while also allowing you to keep track of any environmental changes that may be problematic.
2. Build a Trusting Relationship
Ensure your child knows the lines of communication are always open when it comes to talking to you about what is going on in their life. Even if your child tells you something that is shocking, suspend disbelief to instead let them know you trust what they are telling you.
3. Establish Rules for Online Conduct
Surprisingly, a high percentage of bullying occurs online. With the prevalence of technology at home and in the classroom, it is imperative to establish online conduct rules for children from an early age. This will develop an understanding of responsibility for communications both verbal and virtual. You can encourage your child to keep protected by following these two guidelines:
- Never say or do anything online that you wouldn’t say or do in person.
- Never share any information that you wouldn’t tell a stranger.
4. Involve Child in Problem Solving Discussion
Work together to come up with a solution so that your child feels empowered. Trying to directly contact the parent of the aggressor can sometimes lead to additional bullying and rarely solves the situation. Instead, take active steps to talk to your child about ways they can bring conflict to an end. Find more resources on standing up to bullies here: http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/talking-about-it/
5. Focus on Social-Emotional Learning
Showing children that everyone is different and speaking openly about the emotions certain actions can evoke is a key part of developing your child’s social emotional skills. Concepts like responsibility, respect, and kindness need to be taught before children can fully understand what a bully is and how to ensure they don’t become one unintentionally.
From books to games, the resources below can help you build social emotional learning in your children as they prepare for interacting with their peers:
- I Don’t Bully Book Set (Set of 6)
- Bullies, Victims & Bystanders Board Game
- Exploring Emotional Issues Set (Set of 6)
- Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon