By Noah Makovsky, MD
October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Bullying is a serious issue that is receiving a lot of attention in the media. As parents, it’s important for us to know how to identify and talk to our kids about bullying.
What is Bullying?
Today, people tend to use the term “bullying” to describe many different types of social encounters. However, in order for behavior to be considered bullying it must be aggressive and include an imbalance of power. It must also happen more than once or have the potential to occur again. Bullying can be physical, verbal or social. In can happen in or out of school, as well as online.
Impact of Bullying
Children who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, have health complaints and decreased academic achievement. Kids who bully others can engage in violent and other risky behaviors, such as alcohol abuse and crime.
What You Can Do
There are several things you can do to help prevent bullying.
#1) Talk to your kids about bullying.
Explain what bullying is and make sure your children know that it is unacceptable. Tell them to go to a trusted adult if they or someone they know is being bullied at school. Also, give them tools to stand up to a bully, such as using humor, saying “stop” directly and confidently, and walking away. Stopbullying.gov
, offers several short webisodes
for you to watch with your children that provide methods to cope with bullying.
#2) Talk to your kids about everything!
Keep the lines of communication open with your children. In other words, learn about their life away from you. Get to know their friends, and ask them to explain specifics about what they did during their day. Make sure your kids know you are there to listen, no matter what.
#3) Encourage your children to pursue their interests.
Children who are confident, involved and have access to various friendships may be protected from bullying. Volunteering, sports and clubs all offer great opportunities for kids to “broaden their horizons” and build self-esteem.
#4) Model kind and respectful behavior.
It’s not the first time we’ve said it: kids learn by watching us. They see (and hear) everything, such as how we handle stress and treat others.
Let’s use National Bullying Prevention Month to jump-start our discussions at home about bullying, and keep those conversations going all year long.
Source and for more information, visit stopbullying.gov.