Parents know all too well what it means to be bullied or to be a bully.
However, it can get a little complicated when you try to explain it to a child. You don’t want to make your kids afraid to go to school or other public places where they might run into a bully but at the same time, they need to understand what it means.
You have to explain bullying to a child before you can teach them how to avoid it or they won’t really understand what you’re trying to tell them.
How to Talk about Bullies With Your Child
Start by explaining to your child that when you tease, insult, threaten, mock, speak mean to or spread rumors about someone with the intent to belittle or embarrass them, it’s considered bullying.
It also includes hitting, punching, kicking, biting or physically hurting another person in any way. Taking another kids lunch or lunch money and threatening to do them bodily harm if they tell is also bullying.
Let them know that bullying can come in many different forms.
For example, cyber-bullying is when a person is being bullied on the internet. Explain that this form of bullying is no less harmful than something that is done in person.
Spreading rumors about someone or posting compromising pictures of them online can be detrimental to the victim.
Once your child understands what bullies are, here are a few tips to help them navigate being around them:
- SOCIAL SKILLS Teach your child basic social skills that include how to introduce themselves when meeting someone new, how to join in and play with other kids and how to share and play fairly. Bullies normally don’t target kids that have good social skills.
- ENVIRONMENT Maintain a kind, loving environment where everyone, regardless of age, is treated with respect. Kids that grow up in a warm, loving home are more confident and in control. They’re less likely to be the target of a bully because bullies know these kids will stand up to them.
- OPEN RELATIONSHIP Maintain an open relationship with your child so they know they can come to you if someone is bullying them or if they see someone else being bullied. This will help you put a stop to it quickly before it gets out of hand.
- DEFENSE Teach your child how to take up for themselves in a calm and respectful manner. However, if the bully doesn’t back down, let them know that telling you, a teacher or some other responsible adult is the right thing to do.
Benefits of Talking to Your Kids About Bullies
There are certain benefits to having the bully talk with your kids.
First, you will be able to get a sense of what they already understand about bullying. This is vitally important because you want to make sure they know if it is happening to someone they know or to themselves.
Knowing they are aware of how people are treated will allow you to be proactive in asking them questions occasionally about any bullying they are aware of.
Second, having the bully talk will give them a chance to talk to you about any bullying they’ve been a witness to or been a victim of.
By being open, honest, and matter-of-fact about the subject, kids will be more likely to want to share with you what is going on with them.
It’s important to listen to them and make them feel like you are a safe person they can talk to and trust. The more conversations you have with them about it, the more they will open up to you.
Explaining what bullying is will help kids identify it quickly when they see it happening to them or others.
Understanding what is happening is the first step in doing something about it. If you don’t explain it to them, they may not even know anything is wrong with the way they’re being treated. Even worse, they may begin to feel like there is something wrong with them and that’s why they’re being picked on when that is not the case.
In addition to knowing what bullying is, kids need to know that it’s not acceptable behavior.
Teach them to tell an adult if they are a victim of bullying or a witness to someone else being bullied.
If your child is the bully, then try to find out why. It could be something as simple as they feel lonely and left out of family things, so they take it out on other kids.
Parents have the responsibility to educate their kids about how to spot bullying, and how to be proactive in telling an adult about it.