Many children don’t tell adults when they have experienced something difficult. As a parent/guardian you are a crucial link when it comes to stopping and preventing bullying. But it’s not always easy to know what to do, where to begin. Here are some tips on what you can do, and signs to look for.
Create an open dialogue. Continuously talk with your child about how things are in school and other social situations. Talk about that it is never OK with bullying and harassments and that it is the adults’ responsibility to make sure children are OK.
Have the courage and patience to listen. Let your child tell with own words about experiences and feelings.
Be active where your child is active. Engage in your child’s sport or other after school activities. Google the computer games your child likes to play and social media/apps your child is using. By being present and up to date it’s easier to find out if there’s something going on. It will also be easier for your child to talk to you if something happens, if you know more about the background and situation in general.
Be a role model
Kids often do what adults do, not what we tell them to do. Both IRL and on social media. How are you behaving when you are with yours and others’ children? How are you talking about other people when children are around? Whether it is people you know or people on TV, are you talking about them in a respectful way? How are you expressing yourself when/if you are on social media?
Change is possible
Emphasize that it actually is possible to change the situation. Whether your child is being treated badly, or is treating someone else in a degrading way, there are things to do to change this.
Don’t label the kids
Using words as “the bully”, “the victim”, etc. implies this is who they are, instead of looking at the action or situation. Kids go in and out of roles, and one individual might be bullied in school, while at the same time being the one bullying someone else on the sports team. It is important to analyze the underlaying cause for each incident and we need to support and allow our kids to make a different choice the next time they are in a similar situation.