7 things we can do to avoid bullying
September 10, 2015  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

Bullying is not a game. Recent studies prove that 1 out of every 3 kids are directly involved (as aggressor, victim or both) in bullying at school. And many of those who are not directly related, are unfortunate witnesses. No child is left immune from this problem and it affects all races, genders, grades and socioeconomic levels. But we, as parents, can work together to win the battle. Here are 7 things we can do to avoid bullying.

Talk and listen to your kids daily

Parents are usually the last people to find out if our children threaten or feel threatened by others. To avoid this, have frequent conversations with them about what goes on at school and during their social life. Dedicate a few minutes a day to ask them who they spend time with at school or in the neighbourhood, what do they do during recess, with whom they´ve had lunch or walked home with. If your children get used to talking to you about this sort of thing, you´ll probably see it coming, if and when it happens.

Be an example to follow

Your children model their relationships from your own. Every time you get mad at a waiter or with another driver on the road, think about your child and what type of behaviour you are helping to model. If you speak to your kids abusively, or threaten them, insult or mock others, you´ll be cultivating a bully or at least letting them know that that type of behaviour is acceptable.

Detecting the symptoms

The majority of children don´t say anything (especially to adults) if they´ve been intimated by someone. So it´s very important for parents and teachers to learn how to recognize the symptoms. The most frequent are: constantly losing personal items, headaches or stomach aches, not wanting to go to recess with others or engage in school activities. They also push parents to arrive late or very early to school. If you suspect your child is being bullied, make an appointment with his or her teacher to see whether you have enough reasons to determine further action. Then, you must speak with your son or daughter about what is going on at school.

Creating habits against intimidation

The key is to cultivate empathy and start when the kids are in preschool. Teach your children that pushing, insulting, hitting or simply being mean to others is a big NO-NO. Try having your kids “step into someone else´s shoes” by saying things like: How would you feel if someone did that to you? Playing safe and respecting others will only earn them more friends. They also need to learn how to say no. Explain to them what to do in case other children make them feel bad, or how to say stop it! or enough is enough. If they don’t get their way, teach your kids to ignore the aggressors and look for someone else to play with. You can role-play all these situations using their toys.


Show them how to intervene

Research on bullying shows that kids who are witnesses feel impotent and rarely intervene. But those who actually do usually have a positive effect. In an ideal world, its best if an adult intervenes but if there is no one there when it happens, teach your kids what to do. They can shout out a loud: Stop it! Or “Hey, that´s not OK”. They can also help the victim by offering them their support and searching for a responsible adult. When you speak to your kids, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them if they´ve seen this kind of behaviour at school.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying includes sending or uploading threatening or vulgar texts and images online as well as publishing private information on someone or pretending to be someone else to ridicule others. Different studies confirm that the more time a child spends online; the more chances there are to suffer from or perpetuate cyber bullying. If your child does not know how to respond to this type of threats or wants to threaten others, ask him the following questions: “Would you say this to their face? How would you feel if someone did this to you? Do you know that this is against the law?

This should not be considered normal

Some adults don´t do anything because they believe that intimidation is a typical phase children go through. And it helps them toughen up too. But that is far removed from reality. Any form of abuse is detrimental for everyone involved and the effects of abuse can last way into adulthood, suffering from depression, anxiety, etc.… In order to avoid bullying, those responsible at school, parents and children all need to collaborate. It´s a very serious problem but one that can be tackled if we all work together as a team.

What do you do to avoid bullying?

Photo Credits: Shutterstock

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