How to Bully-Proof Your Compliant Child

Help easygoing kids learn to stand up to others

Upset teen girl with two friends
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Compliant kids are wonderful to have around. They always do what is asked of them and never seem to rock the boat. But this gentle and easygoing nature also can make them a target for bullies.

Bullies often look for people they can have power or control over, and a compliant child is often very easy for mean girls and other bullies to control. They often go along with what everyone wants and are highly susceptible to peer pressure.

But there are things you can do to bully-proof your compliant child. Here are some suggestions for building her backbone.

Encourage your child to think for herself. When faced with small decisions, ask your child what she thinks. For instance, you can ask her, “Is this a good choice for you too?” By doing so, you are getting her to stop and think about what she truly wants rather than just being agreeable. Eventually, she will learn to evaluate all requests made of her in this way.

Provide choices when you can. When you have a compliant child it is important not to make a lot of choices for her. As a result, encourage your child to make decisions on her own. For instance, let her choose when to do homework and shower for school. Also, let her decide what sports to play and what activities or clubs to participate in. Anything you can do to help her build decision-making skills will be useful for a compliant child.

 

Do not insist on total obedience. Remember, it is healthy for kids to challenge their parent’s authority sometimes. While many parents believe they want children that always do what they are told, this is not the best option. What you should desire is a child that is a critical thinker who can make choices on her own.

Down the road, being able to think for themself will come in handy when trying to combat peer pressure.

Acknowledge her voice. Any time your child shares an opinion or stands up for herself, be sure you recognize this skill. Say something like, “I am so glad you stood your ground,” or “I am proud of you for sharing your opinion.” Even if your child is disagreeing with you, she needs to know that it is acceptable to have a different point of view. It does not mean you have to give in to her, but it is important to acknowledge her voice.

Be an active listener. When your child talks about her day, be sure you are listening closely to what she has to say. If you sense that she has done something she did not want to, start a dialogue about it. The goal is to give her an example of what she can say next time that she is faced with a similar situation. Remind her that it is acceptable to politely say no. She does not have to say yes to something she does not want to do.

Encourage free time. Keep in mind when your kids are in structured activities or sports they are taking direction from other people.

And when it comes to compliant kids, you need to give them opportunities to think and make decisions on their own. As a result, it is a good idea to allow them blocks of free time where they can make their own decisions about what they want to do.

Prompt your child to identify her likes and dislikes. Kids who are compliant need to realize that it is acceptable to form opinions about what they like and dislike. And even if others do not agree with their preferences, that is acceptable. They do not have to change just to get along. This skill is especially useful if your child has to deal with cliques at school.

Help your child set boundaries. When children are compliant, they tend to lack boundaries and often allow others to take advantage of them. Teach your child what a boundary is and how to set them, especially in unhealthy friendships. Knowing how to set limits with other people is a skill she will need for the future.

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