Teaching Children To Overcome Bullying

You've fed, nurtured and potty trained your child and a new challenge is probably just around the corner. The neighborhood (or school yard) bully will likely set his sights on your child at some point. How will you handle it? Here are some pointers to brush up on in the meantime:

1. Don't ignore bullying. If it's not dealt with, the situation could get way worse down the road for all concerned. First off remind your child of all the nice and friendly children he knows so that he can shift his focus from the bully as best as possible. Praise him from coming to you with the problem and reinforce that he is not tattling, rather going to an adult with a problem.

2. It's not his fault. Unless your child is a bully too, he didn't ask to be treated badly, right? Don't blame your child in any way. Instead, ask him to explain what the other kid is like and speculate what could've prompted him to bully in the first place?

3. Fighting back isn't the answer. Instead, advise your child to tell the bully to stop what he's doing and then simply walk off in another direction. Bullies often get satisfaction from seeing fear or anger demonstrated from their targets, so tell your child to stay calm. Until the situation is resolved, your child should steer clear of the places where he can be found on his own. He should stay where adults are or other groups of children.

4. Humor is a great tool. If the bully is calling names or teasing your child, sometimes the best way to disarm him is for your child to agree with him. Tell your child to try not to get his feelings hurt, he should find some humor in the situation. For example, if the bully is calling your child a baby for crying over a scraped knee, what if your child started laughing and sucking his thumb to mock himself? The bully would have no reason to continue, right? Practice scenarios at home so your child can get comfortable with using humor as his weapon.

Once you are sure that your child understands what to do, speak with his teacher, coach or bus driver so that all parties are aware of the situation. Don't be afraid to go back to the school for help if the problem continues. In fact, ask the school if they have a bully program in place or if you can be part of setting one up.

Alan Greene has written dozens of articles on family issues, career preparation, online colleges and online degrees for professional women.

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