Bullying is a hot topic and for good reason. According to BullyingStatistics.org, in 2010 2.7 students reported being bullied and 2.1 students are doing the bullying.
While a bully may target anyone, for any reason, children who are bullied tend to have low self-confidence, are insecure and are quieter and passive. They may also appear physically weak or perhaps clumsy. Children of parents who are overprotective and use power to dole out discipline are also vulnerable to being bullied.
While no parent wants to prepare their child for a bully by turning him into one, there are things parents can do decrease their own child’s vulnerability and teach them to deal with a bully without making him one.
1. Teach your child to stand up for herself. In a desire to promote peace, too often parents inadvertently take away a child’s right to say “Stop, no I don’t like that.” While no one wants their children to be back talking brats, it’s vital that children are empowered to say no when appropriate. When you’re tickling or teasing your child and she tells you to stop, listen to her. Doing so sends the message that she deserves to be respected.
2. Encourage solid communication skills. Encourage your child to sit and stand tall, to look the person they are speaking to into the eyes and to exert an air of self-confidence. Children’s body language reveals their feelings and thoughts about themselves and the person they are engaging. When children present themselves as unshakable, they become less vulnerable to a bully.
3. Foster friendships. Children who have a close circle of friends typically don’t get picked on. This is because friends stick together and come to each other’s defense. A bully is less likely to pick on a child who is in a group, and if he does when the others fail to go along with him or stand up for their friend, the bully will typically back down.
4. Build confidence. Figure out your child’s strengths and interests and build on them. Offer words of positive, purposeful praise. Encourage your child to take pride in looking neat and tidy, to value hard work and commitment and to look for the best on others. Doing so naturally makes a child feel good.
5. Teach self defense skills. While you may not want your child to be the next Jackie Chan, teaching him to neutralize a bully is a good thing. Most reputable self-defense courses teach children to overcome bullies without violence and to only use minimal force when presented with no other option. Gracie Bullyproof is one such program where they commit to preparing children to defend themselves without turning them into bullies.
Hopefully your child won’t encounter a bully, but if he does, you’ll want him to be prepared.