October is Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying can have a long-term, negative impact on a child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. There are steps that parents can take to help their child become resilient, confident, and bully-proofed. Bully-proofing your kids is the only way to proactively protect your kids.

  1. Have Open Communication

Ask open-ended questions and listen to your child’s response. Resist the urge to always respond or offer a solution. Allow your child to tell you positive and negative things about what is happening in their lives. Being aware of what is happening is essential for early intervention in a bullying situation. Create a space where you are not caught by surprise.

  1. Set Boundaries With Technology

Create rules and boundaries with technology and social media. Monitor your child’s online communication. Teach them about safety online and about cyberbullying. Instruct them how to report incidences of cyberbullying. Also teach your child to say no when they are uncomfortable in a situation. Empower them to know it is okay to step away when someone crosses a boundary.

  1. Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Whether through sports, music, or academics, find an interest and gift that your child has and encourage it. Seek out and provide opportunities for your child to grow and be challenged to build self-esteem. Encourage your child not just for success but for effort. Be sincere in your encouragement so that they believe you.

  1. Teach Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else. When we teach our children to think about and appreciate the feelings of others, it can prevent them from becoming bullies and make them resilient when faced with it. Teach your children to treat others with kindness and respect so that they are likely to receive the same treatment.

  1. Encourage Healthy Friendships

A strong support system is a significant deterrent to bullying. Encourage friendships for your children and get to know their friends. Empower them with the knowledge that who you surround yourself with matters. Motivate them to build friendships with people who share their values and treat them with respect.  Teach conflict resolution skills in the context of these friendships that can be used if they become the target of a bully.

“When we teach our children to think about and appreciate the feelings of others, it can prevent them from becoming bullies and make them resilient when faced with it.”

Bully-proofing your kids takes intentional parenting. It requires being aware and involved. Still, even the most loving and involved parents may have a child that falls prey to a bully. The following are defensive steps to take if your child is suffering because of the impact of bullying.

  1. Know The Signs

Educate yourself about the signs of bullying. Signs include unexplained injuries, lost clothes or destroyed items, frequent headaches or stomach aches, changes in eating, difficulty sleeping, poor school performance, decreased self-esteem, or a change in peer group or avoiding social engagements.

  1. Seek Professional Help

If you think your child is being bullied, consider reaching out to the school counselor or a therapist for guidance and support.

     3. Look For Alternative Schooling Options

Sometimes removing the child from their current environment is the only solution. You might receive push back from your child, however, reassure them you are doing all you can to keep them safe from further harm and they can still keep in touch with their real friends. Great Hearts Online is an ideal for bringing your child home into a safe place without sacrificing the quality of their education or missing a beat academically. Our teachers strive to keep conversations and interactions respectful among peers and the faculty is very accessible.

The takeaway is that the best way to protect our kids offensively is by being involved and building self-esteem and creating barriers to bullies, but we cannot neglect the need to act in defense as well. Equip yourself as a parent to protect your children’s mental health by continuing to be educated and connected and not hesitating to involve professionals when needed.