National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Nation wide, schools and communities are coming together to educate and bring light to this horrible epidemic that is plaguing our children.

Bullying is real, and will most likely happen to all of our children to some degree.
Bullying is confrontation, and we need to realize that our kids are going to be faced with confrontation throughout their lives. We need to help them prepare for it.
First we need to start talking to our children when they are young. Waiting until our kids are bullied is not a good time to start talking. Talk about bullying early, so your child knows how to handle it. Otherwise, they might feel embarrassed or humiliated about being bullied and feel scared to come home and share what is happening and how they feel.
Watch for warning signs and listen. Children will exhibit signs that there are problems with bullying. Does your child act withdrawn? Are they scared of school or looking for excuses to miss school? Have they stopped telling you about their school day all together? Other common warning signs that bullying is happening…
  • Mood changes
  • Torn clothing
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Aggressive behavior at home
When our kids try and talk to us, we have to listen. They will drop little hints when there are bullying problems. If we are not spending time listening to them, we will miss the small hints and clues.
Don’t minimize your child’s concerns. If your child is complaining about bullying, or any behavior at school that is making them uncomfortable, we should always take them serious. We don’t want to down play or excuse their concerns. Even if they seem trivial to us. Along with this, don’t blame your child for the bullying or make them feel guilty that it is happening to them. NO one should be bullied!
Role Play. Give your children different scenarios and teach them how to handle them. Role play “What do you do if…?” It will empower them, and when they are faced with the bully they wont be as intimidated because they will have practiced what to do. This means role playing body language also. Stand straight and tall, shoulders back, strong confident voice. Practice saying “No”, “Stop it”, and “Leave me alone”.
Teach at home. We need to teach our children how to deal with conflict and confrontation. We need to help them understand how to manage their anger, listen to others, communicate and cooperate.We can do this by using everyday life situations that happen in our home. When there is conflict between siblings, use the situations to teach and role play. Talk about how the same skills used in your home can be used to deal with school mates and friends outside of the home.
Be a good example. Watch what we say and what we do. Are we good examples of conflict resolution in our own adult lives? Are we kind to others? Do we model empathy and understanding? Do we raise our voice, show impatience and/or argue? Children are always watching our example. Are we setting a good one?
Give them an extra curricular activity where they can excel and build their self esteem. We should involve our children in healthy activities where they can find success. Find an activity they like, that has an element of challenge. This can be a hobby, interest, sport, and/or musical instrument. The goal is to boost their self confidence. These types of activities teach children how to solve problems, deal with others and speak their minds. They also build self confidence which is one of the best defenses against bullying. Want more tips on building your child’s self confidence?
Let kids work things out on their own. As parents we can be very quick to step in and stop the arguing and disagreements between our children. We interrupt, decide who we think is entitled to “win” and then go about our business, happy with ourselves because the arguing and disagreeing has stopped. As parents and caregivers, it is important to let our children work-out their own disagreements and fight their own battles. For they most part, if we will just wait a few minutes, our kids will be able to find a solution to their own problems. These family situations are the perfect place for them to practice working through conflict when dealing with others.
What about fighting a bully, is that okay? Remember, for the most part, nothing good will come of fighting. Look at the long term perspective. We are trying to teach our children to handle conflict. As an adult, when they are faced with conflict, they can’t use fighting to solve the problems, so we don’t want to teach them to take that approach when they are younger.
Self Defense is different than fighting. We should teach our children to stand up for themselves in self defense. If they are being physically attacked, they they should always defend themselves. If they do have to fight out of self defense, we shouldn’t get mad at them. We want them to know that if things turn physical, they should always defend themselves.
Tell a teacher. Teach children that if there is a problem, they should find an adult. Teach them not to be afraid to get help.
Join the movement and help build awareness in your community. Start by talking to your own children. Empower your kids so they know how to handle these types of situations.

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