This is the last week of Bullying Prevention Month. I’d like to give you a formula that will minimize bullying both inside and outside of your family home:
1. Look at the following two pictures:
Do you see the connection? If you spank your child, or just give her a swat on the bottom, you are modeling physical abuse to her. She will come to see it as normal and will do the same with her siblings or friends and acquaintances when she is unhappy or frustrated with them. Has your kindergarten called you to tell you that your child is hitting other pupils? If so, think about how you handle frustration at home. When your child plays with things that are off-limits such as the TV or sound system, do you slap her hand and say “NO!”?
So, step one of the formula is that, as a parent, you must remove a child from the area where he is misbehaving. You must NEVER hit him, slap him or spank him. Many bullies are victims of bullying at home, either by parents or older siblings. There are more effective ways of handling misbehavior than physical punishment.
2. Stop gossiping.
If you gossip about others or malign them in any way, you are teaching your child to to the same. If you must criticize neighbors or friends or anyone else for that matter, do it in private, away from your kids. Your words are important. Focus on being positive, especially in front of your children.
3. Treat your child with respect. Remember the “Golden Rule of Parenting”: treat your kids the same way you would like to be treated. No one likes to be yelled at or threatened. You don’t like it. They don’t either.
4. Give your children lots of encouragement and appreciation. Look for positives you can comment on instead of negatives you can criticize. You’ll find that misbehavior melts away as kids get attention for co-operating and contributing to family life. Tell them you love them, and hug them – often. This helps to bully-proof them, as they feel worthy and a valuable part of their world at home.
Older kids, especially, need your love and hugs, even though they seem to brush them off. Persist. It makes them feel good and increases their self-esteem. Kids who feel good about themselves don’t need to put others down to feel important.
5. Teach your children to understand and have empathy for people who are different from them. Make friends with people of different racial or economic backgrounds. Talk with them at the playground or invite them to your home. Your children will grow up with attitudes of tolerance and compassion, with open minds toward differences in people they encounter.
6. Finally, remember to spend time regularly with your kids, having fun, reading, or playing games. Get outside with them, away from technology. Don’t spend time on your phone while you’re with them. Their self-esteem increases when they know that you’ve planned time to be with them, away from your busy day. Make it part of your schedule, especially at bedtime. Bedtime talks about how the day went pave the way for good communication down the road.
Follow these six steps in your parenting and you’ll bully-proof your children and prevent them from the need to pick on others. Not only that, you’ll have an atmosphere of friendliness and co-operation in your home.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or would like some help in putting the above ideas into practice. I’m here to help you.
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