How to Talk to Your Kids About…Bullying

Last updated on August 1st, 2012 at 11:13 am

With a new school year quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to talk to your children about bullying.

All of our children will be faced with confrontation. Whether it is in school, their neighborhood, college, work, even in marriage, as they are older. It is important to prepare them to deal with confrontation now.

  • Start talking to your children when they are young. When appropriate, find ways to bring up the subject of bullying so conversations can ensure.
  • Don’t just talk, listen. Our children will drop little hints when there are bullying problems. We will miss the cues if we don’t actively listen to what they are saying.
  • Role-play with your children. THIS IS A MUST! Give your children different scenarios and teach them how to handle the situations. (“What do you do if someone calls you a name…takes your backpack…etc)”. Answers to these questions are going to be slightly different for each family, depending on how you want to handle things in your own house. There are some things about the answers that will be the same:
  • Responses should be confident, direct, and void of emotion. (Emotion conveys weakness). Children should speak with their bodies as well as their mouths. Shoulders back, standing straight and tall, using a firm voice.
    • Instead of “…that hurts my feelings… the response should be “…knock it off”.
    • Instead of “I don’t like that…the response should be…quit it”
  • So much of successful response to bullying is in the delivery. Practice directness, confidence, and strong body language.
  • Go through each situation and teach them what to say and do. It will empower them, and when they are faced with bullying they wont be as intimidated because they will have had experience and practiced what to do. They will know just how to respond if necessary. This also gives your family the opportunity to teach your morals and values when handling these types of situations.
  • Talk to your children about conflict resolution. Talk to them about managing their anger, communicating, compromise and being patient. This is done through role-play and everyday situations. As conflict happens in your home between siblings, use it to teach. Be sure that as adults, we are being good examples of conflict resolution also.
  • Talk to your children about violence. Fighting is not the answer. Teach your children that it is not okay to fight, UNLESS there is a need to stand up for them selves in self-defense. They should know that if they need to defend themselves because they are being, or going to be physically attacked, then they do. And, that if they do have to fight in self-defense that you will understand and not get mad at them because things turned physical.
  • Talk to your children about empathy. We need to teach our kids to try to understand other’s points of view and to feel compassion towards others. We need to be good examples and demonstrate empathy ourselves.

Research teaches us that helping our children build their self-confidence is one the best defenses against bullying. By talking to our children about conflict and role-playing challenging situations, we can build our children’s self confidence so they feel more prepared when faced with bullying

About the Author

Heather Ann Johnson is a homemaker, wife and mother. She and her husband have 4 children. She is an Adjunct Faculty member at Brigham Young University where she teaches students the principles behind successful families. Her blog, Family Volley, answers reader’s questions about families, marital relationships, and raising children. A firm believer that families should play together, Family Volley features a new activity or game for families every Friday. Heather is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team

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