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Tips for Talking to Your Child About Bullying

Two big bully kids
It’s back-to-school season and along with that comes the return of school yard bullying, unfortunately. But what’s worse, is that our kids today are facing increased challenges when it comes to bullying. With the increased access to smartphones and social media, bullying isn’t confined to school.

According to anti-bullying expert Gabriella van Rij, when addressing difficult issues, like bullying, parents mean well, but often good intentions are met with a stony silence or roll of the eyes. Here are some insights to keep in mind when addressing this difficult topic with kids.

If your child is the bully:

Punishment is not the solution.
Intervention and communication between victim and bully is key. Work with the school and the other parents to set something up. The nature of a bully is someone who is scared him/herself and who bullies others in order to feel better about him/herself. Find out what makes them so sad/angry and work on addressing that issue.

If your child is the victim:

When your children comes to you to talk, realize three very important things before hand:
This is your chance to be the difference in your child’s life – communication is vital!

Do not interrupt them and start talking about “In my day… ” Your child will tune out, be disappointed, and will likely storm out of the room.

Keep your advice minimal and just listen. Try to really hear where they are coming from and how they are feeling before offering advice.

There’s this one very important thing kids can do to stop bullies in their tracks – own their uniqueness and truly accept who they are. If we can teach children to accept who they are both internally and externally, their attitude will shift. People who are accepting of themselves project confidence and security and do not get bullied.

Recognize that smartphones are full-fledged computers and can be weapons in the hands of children.

Spend time with your children exploring social media together. Take the time to teach basic etiquette. Remember you are the example, and they likely see your Facebook too.

The leading voice of the Kindness movement, Gabriella Van Rij, works to spread the message that we are all unique and we each have something to offer the person next to us. She has a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation in the US. She is the author of I Can Find My Might, a part self-help, part practical resource for students, parents, and educators on bullying and self-acceptance.

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