As kids start off the new school year one thing will be certain—they will interact with their peers in many different ways. While school is a setting associated with learning and growth, sometimes children exhibit unexpected behaviours like bullying. Bullying, or aggressive behaviours towards peers, can be verbal, physical, emotional, or it can happen digitally (cyberbullying) and it can have many lasting impacts on those children who are subjected to it. While no parent wants to think of their child as a bully, there are ways in which you can prevent your child from becoming one. Consider the following when it comes to ensuring your child never becomes the mean child on the playground.
Be a Positive Role Model
It all starts at home. When it comes to preventative measures, a parent’s decisions can shape their child’s mind. Parents serve as the first point of reference when it comes to how a child behaves. In short, children will emulate what they see at home. Parents should model strong, positive behaviours so that children will learn to do the same. For instance, parents should look at their own behaviours and consider if any of their actions are in line with being a bully. Bullies often use their power to hurt other people. Bullies also tend to think they are better than the other person. So, does the parent display rude behaviour to sales people in stores or customer service reps on the telephone? Do parents treat others with disdain and apathy? Parents must take an honest look at their own behaviours to make sure they are not sending the wrong messages to their children. Bullying is preventative and parents can be accountable in the behaviours they display as adults. Parents can teach their children what is right and wrong by teaching them empathy and by showing children how to put themselves into the shoes of others.
Encourage Open Communication
Parents can further prevent bullying by creating an atmosphere at home that embraces open communication. Parents should make communication the norm and they should practice it often with children, allowing their kids to freely express their thoughts and feelings. To do so, parents should listen intently as their children explain what is on their minds. This can be done daily at the dinner table or it can be done on a less frequent, but regular basis in a setting where the child feels comfortable to have open dialogue with their parent. The parent should also ask probing questions to get to the root of any areas of concern the child is experiencing. For example, is the child succumbing to peer pressure at school? Do they feel the need to fit in? Bullies often think that their behaviours will make them fit in with the crowd. If this is the case, talk to children and let them know that popularity, if it leads to bullying, can be hurtful to others. Parents should encourage independent thinking, kindness, and again empathy to prevent the child from becoming a bully.
Family Pets Can Also Help
Pets are a great way to reduce the likelihood of bullying behaviour. Studies have shown that pets teach children empathy and responsibility. Animals are therapeutic and they can help children care for another being’s safety and well-being. This is especially true when furry friends already have great temperaments and personalities. For instance, French bulldogs are a friendly, well-behaved breed that gets along very well with children of all ages. By caring for the family pet, children can learn so much about compassion, bonding with others, and respect for life. This can go a long way when it comes to preventing bullying behaviours.
Teasing, being mean to peers like purposefully leaving someone out of an activity, or spreading rumours are just some of the behaviours that constitute bullying. Children who are bullied often feel powerless and alone. Their grades may decline as a result and they may not look forward to attending school. No parent ever wants their children to have such feelings but no parent ever wants to hear that their child is the aggressor either. Parents can prevent bullying by emulating an anti-bullying environment at home. This may include monitoring their own behaviours, openly communicating with their children or by having children care for the family pet to teach them empathy. No matter the direction a parent takes, know that bullying can be prevented by taking proactive measures to steer children in the right direction.