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Parents: Empower Your Child to Beat the Bully

March 17, 2014
Original Author: Keren Perles


As a parent, you can empower your child to change from a bystander into an “upstander.”

Here are some tips on how:

1. Start early. Even preschoolers can be encouraged to support other kids who may be “different” or easily picked on. “Teaching empathy skills begins at home and into preschool through role-modeling these skills and rewarding children for being good friends to other kids,” says Haber. “If adults support efforts of children to respond to those kids who are targeted, we teach children that this skill set is important to us.”

2. Be involved, and encourage other adults to become involved.  “We cannot let the children do all this by themselves,” explains Herrera. “The best way for parents to empower their child is to be present in the school, lunchtime, and after-school environment.” If parents cannot take on this role, they should lobby the school to find someone who can.

3. Give over your values to your children. “Parents, schools, and classrooms need to introduce the vocabulary of peace every day, in as many environments as possible, just like video games are everywhere in the student’s life, says Herrera. “Create the media of friendship, cooperation, and support.”

4. Give your child the tools to be able to stand up to a bully. Make sure she understands that if she doesn’t feel safe, she can support the victim in other ways and bring the behavior to the attention of a responsible adult.

5. Use kind words with your child, suggests Herrera. Well-earned praise encourages positive feelings and behavior; punishment encourages negative behaviors.

6. Role model the attitude you want to see in your child, says bullying prevention expert Karen Siris. Your child will notice your own “upstanding” behavior and will learn from it. That means playing the upstander role when siblings are picking on each other in your home, when friends who have come over are stepping over the line, or when your children witness one adult “bullying” another.

7. Teach your children to speak about their feelings using “I” messages, advises Siris. Practice with phrases such as “I don’t like it when you don’t let me play during recess” or “I feel upset when you don’t let Johnny join our soccer game.”

8. Reward upstanding behaviors. Creating a positive culture in the home and school that values children who include others can go a long way towards reducing bullying.