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5 Ways to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

Bullying can appear in all shapes and sizes, whether you notice the warning signs it or not, here are steps to talk to your child about their social-emotional awareness and how they can stand up to bullies at school.

1. Ask Your Child Open-Ended Questions About Their Day

Make sure you’re having regular conversations with your child about their relationships with friends and peers both in and out of school. Give your child space to describe their emotions and relationships openly using their own choice of words, an easy way to do this is to ask open-ended questions like:

How was your day today?
Who did you eat lunch with?
What did you do during recess?
What happened after school / on the way home?

2. Recognize 1/3 of the world’s youth is bullied (UNESCO)

Talk to your kids about how prevalent bullying is, ensure they understand the “official” definition of bullying and the different types of bullying that exists.

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Education released the first federal definition of bullying. The definition includes three core elements:

1. Unwanted aggressive behavior

2. Observed or perceived power imbalance

3. Repetition or high likelihood of repetition of bullying behaviors

4. This definition helps determine whether an incident is bullying or other type of aggressive behavior, such as one-time physical fights, online arguments, or incidents between adults.

5. Some bullying actions can fall into criminal categories, such as harassment, hazing, or assault.

3. Bullying Comes in Different Types

4. Reinforce Positive Behaviors

Giving someone a hug or pat on the back, being respectful of another child’s toys or simply cleaning up, work in ways to positively reinforce “good” or respectful behavior at home, by giving your child verbal praise.

Suzanne W. Peck, author of STAND TALL Teacher′s Manual, Grades 4–6: Lessons That Teach Respect and Prevent Bullying, writes “Look for opportunities to reinforce respectful behaviors, constructive dialog, speaking up for others, and resolving conflicts. Make heroes out of kids who stand tall!”

5. Research New Topics & Online Communities

Listen closely to your child’s interests, have they picked up a new favorite game to play or a new interest from their friends? Do your research, find out if these games, apps, webites are designed for children. Research sub-communities within these platforms to better understand how they operate. Are there parental control features to limit age-appropriate content, or to protect your child’s online privacy?

6. Review Your Child’s School Bullying Policy

The start of the school year is a great time to sit down and set expectations with your child. Likely, your child’s school has an Anti-Bullying policy or pledge they require all students to take part in. If not, use this as an opportunity to get involved with teachers or administrative on ways to reduce bullying in your community. Sit down and review this with your child.