Bullying is a growing concern in schools across the nation and many of us are left wondering what we can do about it. Whether your child has been bullied, been a bully or simply witnessed bullying taking place it is important to talk about it. But how? As with many subjects, it can be a little scary or overwhelming to talk to kids about bullying so we’ve listed some tips, some great books to help get the conversation started, and a fun printable to encourage kindness.
What is Bullying?
Bullying comes in many forms and all bullying is bad. Some bullying behaviors may not be as extreme as others but that doesn’t make them any less harmful or upsetting.
Ask your children if they have been bullied or seen someone being bullied and what that looks like. Here are some things that bullies do:
- Physical acts like hitting, punching, tripping, etc.
- Threatening harm
- Embarrassing someone on purpose
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Excluding someone on purpose
Where Does Bullying Happen?
Bullying usually happens away from other adults. Playgrounds and buses are common places for bullies to lash out but some will act quickly the moment and adult turns their back.
5 Signs Your Child May Be A Victim of Bullying
- Your child suddenly dislikes school or begins to do poorly.
- Your child has injuries they can’t explain.
- Your child appears sad or often comes home upset.
- Your child makes excuses about why they can’t go to school.
- Your child is afraid to join activities that involve other kids.
5 Signs Your Child May Be A Bully
- Your child has been the victim of a bully in the past.
- Your child is very proud.
- Your child justifies behaviors by blaming others.
- Your child doesn’t recognize, understand or care about the feelings of others.
- Your child likes to be in control.
5 Way to Talk to Kids About Bullying
1. Avoid asking “how was school today?” Instead, ask open-ended questions such as:
Who did you sit with at lunch or on the bus? What did you talk about?
Are there any kids at school that you don’t like? Why?
Are there any kids at your school who are mean? What do they do?
2. Read books that help kids to recognize bullying and learn what to do about it. We recommend these ones:
It’s important to stick up for your friends, even when it is scary.
This book will empower kids to stand up for others.
No one wants to be bullied but if it happens, it’s nice to know what to do!
Kindness can really go a long way!
Understanding how others feel, how our actions can affect others and recognizing the signs of bullying are helpful at any age.
3. Believe what your child says. Sometimes the acts of a bully may seem extreme and it can be a normal reaction to say “there’s no way that could have happened!” Be the person who believes in your child even if what they say doesn’t seem true.
4. Discuss how to deal with a bully. Many times children are told to just ignore the bully or to stand up for themselves. This advice is often not very practical and will usually lead to the situation continuing on even longer.
Who is an adult your feel safe talking to when something happens?
Where does bullying happen? Can we avoid these situations?
Do you have a buddy that you feel safe with?
Or simply ask, How do you want me to help you?
5. Teach children to be stewards of kindness. Even if your child is not bullied they have likely witnessed it happening. Encourage your child to:
Sit with someone new at lunch.
Play with someone new on the playground.
Follow the golden rule.
Think about how their actions can affect others.
Do kind things for other people such as sharing one of the kindness cards below.
For more resources on bullying, go to StopBullying.gov.