The best time to take charge of bullying behavior is before it happens to your child, not after. Recognize that the higher your child’s self esteem, the less likely that he or she will be a target of bullying behavior.
Fortunately, we now have legislation and comprehensive anti-bullying policies to protect our children. You don’t need to look solely to your school, however, to protect your child from bullying behavior. Below are 8 powerful and specific ways that you can empower your child with self esteem and the skills needed to create and attract healthy relationships:
1. Model self esteem and healthy relationships. This is extremely important. After all, we can’t teach what we don’t know. Also, our children learn by watching us and how we interact with others.
2. Educate yourself about bullying. There are a variety of ways a child can be bullied. For instance, direct bullying may involve hitting, name-calling, tripping, or taking or destroying another’s belongings. Indirect bullying may involve spreading rumors or gossiping about someone, whether in person or online – through social media or text messaging. Interestingly, children often bully others when they have an underlying lack of compassion and respect for themselves and others. Get the facts and find out more about what you can do to increase your child’s ability to insulate himself from becoming a target of bullying behavior.
3. Encourage your child to develop his unique talents and interests. As your child learns what he is good at and spends time doing activities that he enjoys, his self confidence with naturally increase. When he is able to help others by using his natural talents and skills, his self esteem will soar. You might also look for groups and organizations that are designed for this, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or other groups that engage in activities in which your child shows interest.
4. Give your child the very best resources to help him succeed. If you see your child struggling in any way, for instance, in school or in social situations, find out why. Ask questions. Learning often starts with knowing the right questions to ask. If you feel it is necessary, have him evaluated by the school and/or appropriate medical professional, one who comes highly recommended. Don’t settle for any less than your child deserves and don’t take no for an answer when you know your child needs help. This will also show your child not only that you are committed to helping him be his very best, but that there are no shortage of resources when we commit to finding them.
5. Encourage your child to use effective body language. Interestingly, how we communicate is often more effective than what we communicate. Encourage your child to stand and walk straight, make direct eye contact, and use a firm tone of voice when speaking. Often, when we create the appearance of confidence, we create actual confidence. Shuffling footsteps, looking down and away from others, and soft or wavering tone of voice all signal lack of confidence.
6. Give your child a variety of tools to use if confronted by bullying behavior. Let’s face it, bullies do exist. Therefore, the more “tools” your child has available to him, the more confident he will feel if he does encounter bullying behavior. You might help him come up with several pre-planned “come-backs” to use in a variety of situations, for instance, if another child makes fun of something he is wearing or hurls some other insult at him.
7. Reinforce the learning power that comes from challenges (also called “mistakes”). In this way, recharacterize “mistakes” as challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. Pay attention to the words you use. Words are extremely powerful. One example we can learn from mental health professionals is to reinforce with your child the difference between his behavior being “bad” as opposed to he is “bad.”
8. Regularly point out and remind your child of positive qualities, unique strengths and specific accomplishments. Try to be as specific as possible and tie these in with a specific result at every opportunity. For instance, tell him that the way he volunteered to help his friend was very kind and generous. Ask if he noticed that his friend smiled and seemed to feel better about himself after that. This also shows that your child is responsible for creating results with his behavior.