Bullying is a serious problem that can have a lifelong impact on children. One-fifth of all students report being bullied, and it affects all kids involved. Those who are bullied, bully, and witness bullying experience long-term effects that can last into adulthood.
Parenting is about protecting your kids, but it is also about teaching them how to be respectful and kind to others. While no parent wants to hear their child is being bullied, it can be just as upsetting to find out your child is bullying someone else.
Many parents who deal with kids that bully others find out that their kids receive peer pressure to pick on others.
Here’s how you can teach your child to prevent bullying and avoid becoming a bully.
Teach the Definition of Bullying
First and foremost, you must be crystal clear with kids about what bullying is. Some kids may think they are doing no harm as long as they aren’t physically harming another person, but that’s not the case. According to stopbullying.org, bullying is:
- Unwanted aggressive behavior
- An observed or perceived power imbalance
- Repetition or high likelihood of repetition of bullying behaviors
Share examples of each with your child so they know what behavior is considered bullying.
When teaching your child about bullying, use role-plays to build their confidence. Have your child role-play each role: the bully, bullied, and bystander. Talk them through different responses, and explain the importance of responding as a bystander. When your child is in the “bully” role, talk with them about how their words and actions would make another person feel, and remind them of this when they are the one being bullied.
Address Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is often more nuanced than media suggests. Your child may not have a friend that says “be mean to this kid” (though they might). More often, it’s the pressure to fit in and act like your friends.
Discuss peer pressure with your child, and what it could look like. Talk about qualities that make a good friend vs qualities that suggest a person may not be a good friend. Use role-play to come up with solutions to reacting when your child’s friend is bullying.
Ending bullying starts by raising kids to not be bullies. Peer pressure often gets in the way, so it’s important to give your child many tools for combatting bullying.