Expert Tips for Bully-Proofing Your Kid

Bullying among kids – and unfortunately even really severe bullying – has been in the news a lot the past few years. And whether you’re worrying that your kid is being bullied, or that your kid is bullying someone, it’s an issue all parents should be thinking about, especially when they’re sending their kids off to school every day and can’t keep an eye on them 24/7.

 

A lot of parents associate bullying with older kids. But I was pretty shocked to read an article in Parents magazine about the fact that even preschoolers are at risk, and maybe even higher risk than older kids! According to the article, “Bully-Proof Your Child,” written by Stacey Colino, she also didn’t realize that even kids under 4-years old could be victims of abuse from other kids. A child in her 4-year old son’s class ran punched, hit, kicked and even verbally threatened her son and his other classmates. Some studies have even shown that bullying has become more common among 2- to 6-year olds than among pre-teens and teens.

 

So, how is a bully born? Most experts agree that one of the biggest traits of a bully is low self esteem. And a child that has low self esteem and shows signs of selfishness can cross the line into intentionally hurting others. Teasing and grabbing other kids is a normal part of a little kid’s development. So, parents need to be on the lookout earl for signs their kid’s behavior isn’t on the verge of becoming a habit.

 

If you’re worried your kid might be the problem in a bullying situation, here are some signs Colino says you should look out for in your child:

 

  • Impulsive, angry behavior.
  • The need to take out his frustration by hitting or pushing other children.
  • A group of friends who are aggressive.
  • Physical fights with siblings.
  • Difficulty understanding how his negative actions make other kids feel.
  • Problems staying out of trouble at school.

No matter what, Colino says that if you suspect your child is a bully, you need to take action right away to curb the behavior and talk to your kid’s teacher about it. And, if you notice one or more of the “symptoms” above in your child, help him practice techniques like taking deep breaths or counting to ten to help calm him and prevent him from acting on his negative emotions.

 

Apparently, only 38 percent of parents in the U.S. give their child’s elementary school an “A” for bullying prevention. And if your preschool-aged (or any-aged kid) is on the receiving end of abuse from a bully, this article gives the following great tips for stepping in and taking action:

 

  1. Talk to the teacher. You need to alert administrators at your school right away if you think your child is being harassed. Most schools have protocols in place for intervention. When you report the problem, make sure you’re specific about what happened and who was involved.
  2. Contact the bully’s parents. This article suggests you only take this action if the bullying is persistent, and if you think a child’s parents will cooperate with you. Make sure you’re non-confrontational and make it clear that you just want to find a way for your kids to get along better.
  3. Teach your child how to ask for help. Make sure that instead of teaching your child to “fight back,” no matter how he’s being bullied, you teach him how to walk away and get help from a trusted adult. Tell him to stay in groups with his friends (a bully is less likely to target more than one kid at a time). You may still have to get involved, of course. Have conversations with teachers and bus drivers and ask them to keep an eye out for potential problems.
  4. Teach your kid about “positive body language.” By the time your kid is 3, he is capable of learning tricks that can keep him from being targeted. According to this article, you can teach your child to look at the color of his friends’ eyes and do the same thing when he’s talking to a bully. This makes him look confident. And “how you look when you encounter a bully is more important than what you say.”
  5. Write a script for your child. Rehearse some words and behaviors with your child that will help him respond to a bully so he feels better prepared. Teach him to use a strong, firm voice or to just walk away. No matter what, make sure he knows not to come back at a bully with a put-down, because it only encourages more bullying.
  6. Praise your kid. When your kid tells you stories about how he managed to prevent someone from harassing him, make sure you give plenty of praise. Let him know you’re proud! This will encourage him to continue to stand up against bullying in healthy, effective ways.

Hopefully this information can give you some ideas for teaching your kids how to stay safe and interact positively, whether they’re at school, at a friend’s house or on the playground! Because we all love our children, please take a listen to our song, “You Are Loved” below.  Don’t forget:  You can also get a free download of this song simply by signing up for our mailing list on the right side of the website or in the “Mailing List” section!