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I was watching a game show the other day and the host was constantly belittling the contestants. The put-downs focused on the contestants appearances and intellect and I was disgusted that a show would allow this "playful banter". And then, I was shocked when just this morning I was listening to the radio and the DJ was making fun of a woman from a party the night before. I know that negative bullying behaviors are as old as time, but as I thought about writing this article I was so amazed at how frequent it really is in our society still. We cannot allow these bullying behaviors to be generally accepted in our society anymore. The affects are damaging and in extreme cases, it has lead even to suicide. Now, I will acknowledge that there is an increased awareness of bullying. But here are two examples of popular public entertainment that I observed in the last two days where bullying language was delivered as normal and acceptable.
Something has to change. We need to change. And change starts with just one person. Education is so important when raising awareness and equally important is educating our children about bullying. I personally wanted to start talking to my six year-old son about bullying but I realized that I needed to do some homework. Bullying isn't just the big guy pushing the smaller guy into the locker. Bullying can look so many different ways and I wanted to give my son the tools to identify these behaviors. I looked online trying to find resources and today I'm sharing what I found. Since our families and children are all different, please feel free to tailor this list. Let me know if you have thoughts or topics I should add because I am still learning about bullying too. Here's how I plan on talking to my child about bullying and the sources I found:

Ways to Teach Children About Bullying


1. First identify what is bullying?

Bullying is, " An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people."(1) So a key to identifying bullying behaviors is the action is unwanted, aggressive, and repeats.

2. What does bullying behaviors look like? 

 If you know what bullying behaviors look like then you can teach your children to be able to identify these behaviors. You may also be able to spot these behaviors if they develop in your kids. "Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose."(1) So if you are publicly hurting someone in any way, you could be being a bully.

3. What are some of the reasons children develop bullying behaviors?

Some, but not all,  of the reasons children develop bullying behaviors are " Picking on someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker provides a feeling of being more important, popular, or in control. In other cases, kids bully because they simply don't know that it's unacceptable to pick on kids who are different because of size, looks, race, or religion.
In some cases bullying is a part of an ongoing pattern of defiant or aggressive behavior. These kids are likely to need help learning to manage anger and hurt, frustration, or other strong emotions. They may not have the skills they need to cooperate with others. Professional counseling often can help them learn to deal with their feelings, curb their bullying, and improve their social skills.
Some kids who bully at school and in settings with their peers are copying behavior that they see at home. Kids who are exposed to aggressive and unkind interactions in the family often learn to treat others the same way. And kids who are on the receiving end of taunting learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak."(2)
4. How can we help a child who is developing bullying behaviors?

We can first look at ourselves and assess if we are contributing to our child's' development of bullying behaviors as mentioned above. Make sure we aren't being examples of bullying behaviors too. Teaching kindness and friendship, as talked about earlier this week, can help.  We can also try to understand our child. Talk to your children about their joys and sorrows in life. Talk to your child about their friends. Observe their social circle. See who is influencing them.

5. What can I do if I feel like my child is being bullied?

Find out the details. If the bullying is happening at school talk to school personnel. It also doesn't hurt to try to talk to the parent as well. Some parents may want to try to help and they can best reinforce better behaviors, so it's worth a try. I also found this very educational website at http://www.tolerance.org/bullying-basics. I really loved all the links they provided and the information. So please check out their website.
I know today was a soap box kind of day. But this is a serious issue and I feel like it needs to have a raised awareness. I am pleased to be able to have platform to share this knowledge and hopefully influence society for the better. So I challenge all of you out there to learn and then educate your children. I believe we can be forces for good both as parents and adults. Let's try to add positivity to society instead of what the media is openly accepting as "normal". Much love to you all wherever you may be in your lives.

 
P.S. This is the last day of our Anti-Bully week. I hope you have a better understanding of bullying and how we can combat it's negative affects. But here are the posts from this week:
 
 
 

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