6 Ways to Bully – Proof your Child.

The tides of acceptance of youth bullying are beginning to turn. Bullying is now receiving national attention as the outcomes are finally being researched and information and statistics are now being disseminated. For those who have been bullied or have a child being bullied the statistics, while harrowing, do not adequately describe the pain of this experience.

Here are 6 ways to bully-proof your child and your community:

1) Examine your beliefs and your past in regards to bullying. We have learned much about child development in the past 40 years, and now recognize the undeniable detrimental effects of bullying for everyone involved. Don’t minimize the effects of bullying. The behaviors that have been considered acceptable for school children are illegal in the workplace and in adult life, yet we mistakenly expect children to know how to cope with them.

2) Encourage school administrators to implement an anti-bullying program at your child’s school. The most effective programs require that the adults take the lead and have sustained, repeated reinforcement that includes the “compassionate community” The program should last a minimum of 1 year.

3) Don’t expect a child to handle a bullying situation alone. It is not enough to tell a child being bullied to “tell the bully to stop” without tools and the support of the community. In fact, telling a child to do this, without giving the child the support and tools to do so, may close communication between you and add stress and shame to the child. Role Play bullying situations as a family. Take turns being the bully, the bullied and the compassionate community. Have children practice speaking out when they see bullying in action against others.

4) Support children’s mental health. It is known that being bullied can increase the likelihood of depression and suicide. What is less known is that most bullies have experienced severe stressors within their homes. Bullies have been termed “psychological orphans” and up to 40% of childhood bullies become felons. Consequently, ensuring that mental health services are encouraged and available can make a difference in the long run.

5) Model loving respectful relationships in your home where everyone’s voices are heard. This is not to encourage parents to give children an equal voice in decision making, simply to let them know that you are willing to listen to their concerns and ideas.

6) Promote equality. If your child is part of a minority group, or has special needs they are more likely to be the target of bullies. Support your child by giving them examples of strong wonderful role models who are similar to them and focusing on their strengths and unique contribution to the world.

If you or someone you love is bullying others, or being bullied sometimes working with a marriage and family therapist can be helpful. If you are looking for a family therapist in the Twin Cities metro please feel free to contact Trisha Falvey,MA,LAMFT to set up an initial consultation.