Bullying is a big problem in our country today. Today, I wanted to share some great resources and advice for dealing with bullying.
First, I just had to share this new book with you. It’s hot off the presses and ready to share with your kids. You may remember that I chose Princess Free Zone as one of my positive picks before. Since that time, Michele has had her book, Super Tool Lula published!
The story is about Lula, who is bullied for being different from other girls. Once Lula finds her own super powers, she learns to use them to fight bullying and to teach other kids about accepting people for who they are instead of being mean to those who are different.
Lula would be a great resource to start a conversation with your younger child (I recommend ages 6-10) about bullying. It’s important to have these discussions early on, not just about being nice to each other, but about how to handle bullying when you see it. I also have some other great resources to fight bullying.
One is Bully Busters, which is a website that has a lot of great information, resources, and programs to help kids, parents and schools learn to respond to bullying in an effective way. I really like Annie Fox’s Cruel’s Not Cool information as well. She does workshops but she also has some good information online.
What can parents do to fight bullying? Here are some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists:
- Be alert to signs of bullying: Pay attention to how your child interacts with other children. Does your child become easily frustrated? Does your child tend to talk negatively about other children? Does your child tend to show little compassion for others when they’re in distress or talk about people “deserving” to have bad things happen to them?
- If you suspect your child is bullying others, talk with both your child and their teacher. Approach your child with questions about what is leading up to such behaviors. They may feel pressured by peers to engage in bullying. Make sure that they know what behaviors are not acceptable so that you both have a clear understanding. Explain to them why bullying behaviors are unacceptable and how it affects others. Discuss alternatives to aggressive behaviors. Establish clear rules and consequences for bullying and keep the lines of communication open between home and school. Your child needs to know that bullying behavior will not be tolerated.
- Be alert to signs of victimization: Is your child afraid to go to school? Do they frequently report feeling sick to avoid school? Do they seem sad, lonely, anxious? Notice if your child’s general feeling of well-being seems to have changed. Do they have friends who they are doing things with and talking about having fun with? How does your child generally interact with other children? Do they know how to stand up for themselves when needed? Pay attention to words such as “nobody likes me” or “I don’t have any friends.” Notice if your child is coming home with bruises, items that are missing that they should have, etc.
- If you suspect that your child is being victimized, talk with both your child and their teacher. The school has a responsibility to provide your child with a safe learning environment, so work to cooperate with them as much as possible, but don’t be afraid to push if you need to in order to protect your child. Find out when your child is being bullied and by whom. Is it during certain times of the day or in certain classes? With the help of the school, develop a plan with your child for asking for help. They need to identify a safe person or place where they can go when they need help. Encourage your child to talk with their friends about the bullying and enlist support. Bullies rarely target children in groups, so having their friends around them may put an end to the bullying. Make certain that there is adult supervision at all times. Bullying can be greatly curbed by simply having more adult presence in the school or other environment in which it is occurring.
- Help your child see that letting an adult know what is happening is not “telling.” Often times children have been encouraged to handle difficulties on their own instead of sharing every little problem, but ongoing bullying is an exception to this rule. Children cannot handle it on their own and they need to know that is acceptable to ask for help. Be sure that the teachers and administrators at your child’s school support them in this and provide them with a plan for reporting bullying behaviors, even those that are directed at others.
- Find out what the bullying policies are at your child’s school. Most schools have a zero tolerance policy for bullying and children who bully will be disciplined.