5 Easy Things Every Parent Can Do to Prevent Bullying

Discover ways you can prevent bullying

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Every day in schools across the country kids are victimized by bullies. They are left trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of what is happening to them. They not only struggle academically but their quality of life is impacted as well.

No parent wants to see her child go through this. But sometimes you might feel at a loss for how to prevent it from happening. While there is no guarantee that you can keep your child from being bullied, there are things every parent can do to reduce the likelihood.

Here are five easy ways for every parent to prevent bullying.

Set a good example. Often the very best way to keep kids from becoming bullies or victims of bullying is to be a good role model. If you treat people with kindness and respect, your kids will likely do the same. But if you are rude, disrespectful and act entitled, your child will emulate this behavior as well. The same is true for your social media use. What you post and how you interact online sets an example, good or bad, for your kids. 

As a result, it is very important that you take a realistic look at your own behaviors. Examine how you treat wait staff, school personnel and even other drivers on the road. If you have anger management issues or you allow people to take advantage of you, then your kids may behave the same way. If you are respectful, your kids will be respectful. If you are rude, your kids will be rude. To prevent bullying in your kids’ lives, be sure you are modeling healthy behaviors.

Teach them how to take responsibility for things they do wrong and how to defend themselves when someone is treating them poorly.

Talk to your kids every day. Set aside time for your kids every day. Find out about their day by asking open-ended questions. Then listen to what they have to say. Not only do you want to connect with your kids, but you also want to gauge how things are going in their lives.

Research shows that kids who are being bullied often don’t tell anyone what is happening. You can encourage your kids not to fall into that pattern by talking with them about their lives. Discuss how kids treat each other at school. Talk about the importance of healthy friendships and make sure they know the difference between a true friend and a frenemy. You also should discuss healthy dating relationships as well. Make sure they know the red flags of dating violence and how to know when a significant other is abusive.

Instill a healthy mindset. Kids are less likely to become victims of bullying if they have a healthy outlook on life. Many times kids can avoid bullies if they have a healthy group of friends and a solid self-esteem. You also should impart resiliency and be sure your child has the skills needed to cope with bullying should it occur.

Knowing how to deal with relational aggression, cope with cliques and deal with being ostracized also are important skills. But don't assume you have failed if your child is bullied.

Instead, focus on helping her get her life back on track by watching for issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and thoughts of suicide. And be sure to get your child outside help if the consequences of bullying seem to be taking a toll. The goal is that your child learns how to take care of herself and that she does not let bullying, or other bad experiences, define who she is.

Empower your child to be a good witness. Sometimes nothing is worse than watching someone else be victimized. In fact, research shows that kids who witness bullying feel guilty, powerless and helpless. What’s more, bystanders can be as impacted by the bullying as the victim. As a result, it’s important that you empower your kids to be healthy bystanders. You can begin by giving them ideas on what to do if they witness bullying

Another way your child can be a good witness, is to learn to be inclusive. Talk to your child about the importance of reaching out to others, especially those who do not have many friends. Many times, bullying can be prevented by a few people standing by the weaker student. Teach your child to stand up for those who need him.

Discuss bullying and cyberbullying. Discussions about bullying and cyberbullying are important. Many times, kids do not recognize that what they are experiencing is wrong. For instance, kids rarely refer to bullying as bullying. Instead, they might say kids are messing with them or that there is a lot of drama at school. Make sure your kids know that bullying, especially the subtle forms like relational aggression, are not normal and they do not have to deal with these issues on their own.

It's also important to have discussions about cyberbullying. Because cyberbullying is a growing problem among young people, it’s important that parents talk to their kids about the issue. Instill the importance of good digital etiquette and be sure your child can recognize the five primary types of cyberbullying. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure your child understands the consequences of sexting and other online behaviors. The goal is that with a little education what is appropriate and what isn't kids will be able to identify when they need help and come to you for assistance. 

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