10 Steps to Take if Your Child is Bullying.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and at COMPASSION IT, we encourage schools and parents to introduce compassion to prevent and curb bullying. Our reversible wristbands are an easy and tangible tool that make compassion accessible for all ages.
As I’ve researched how to help a child who bullies, I’ve seen a common theme: compassion. Not only should parents and educators practice compassion for a child who is bullying, but they should teach empathy and compassion to the child.
I’ve also learned that it is best to NOT refer to a child as a “bully.” We should see the child as a human who bullies others. Adding a label to a person will certainly not help.
Once you are aware that your child is bullying others, here are 10 steps you can take:
1) Have a non-confrontational conversation
First see if they child understands that his behavior is harming others. Some children don’t realize the ramifications of their actions. They may think what they’re doing is “no big deal”.
Although punishment might be a knee-jerk reaction to bullying, it’s best to get to the root of the unskillful behavior through a conversation. See if you can find out why the child is mistreating others. Is the child being bullied himself? How is he feeling? Is peer pressure causing him to bully?
2) Set expectations & create consequences
Now that you better understand why your child is bullying, be sure he knows that you will not tolerate the behavior anymore. Explain that any more bullying will result in discipline (revoking privileges or activities, for example).
3) Teach empathy and compassion
Many children who bully have a difficult time understanding the feelings of others. As you child to imagine putting himself in another’s shoes to understand how it might feel to be bullied.
*Use COMPASSION IT wristbands as an easy way to make compassion a daily activity. You can purchase wristbands for the entire family and report each evening during dinner how many times you each flipped the wristband and why.
4) Work on an action plan & role play
Pacers Teens Against Bullying provides an action plan http://www.pacer.org/bullying/pdf/StudentActionPlan.pdf that can help students reflect on an experience of bullying and write out steps for handling the situation better.
You can also role play certain scenarios to help your child practice how to handle conflict or frustrating situations.
5) Lead by example
Bring awareness to your own actions and language. Often times I don’t realize I say certain things until I hear my nine-year-old daughter mutter the exact same phrase. If we make compassion a priority in our own lives, our children will follow.
6) Give positive feedback
If you witness your child offering to help someone or displaying kindness, be sure to notice it and celebrate it! Did she handle a conflict or express her feelings skillfully? Those are more reasons to pat her on the back.
7) Practice patience
Behaviors don’t change overnight, so be sure to not be too hard on your child if his bullying behavior doesn’t instantly stop. Offering love and understanding can go a long way.
8) Work together with the school
Be sure you’re having conversations with teachers, administrators, counselors, and others who can help your child. Creating a team of people who care about the well-being of your child will make this easier than doing it by yourself.
9) Contact others in your community
A team of helpers can extend beyond the school. Your child’s doctor, psychologist, or coach can work with you and your child.
10) Create your own plan-of-action
It is not a bad idea to write down your plan-of-action so that you can keep track of your resources and next steps.
Case Study: Oglethorpe Point Elementary School in St. Simons Island, Ga., flipped the conversation on bullying. Read about how they made Compassion a priority after losing a kindergartner to cancer.
Order COMPASSION IT wristbands as a simple tool for introducing empathy and compassion to children.
Sources: Pacer.org, PBS Parents
About Compassion It
Compassion It is a nonprofit whose mission is to spread compassion and inspire compassionate actions through workplace training, personal development training, tools, and content. We envision a world where compassion is practiced by every person, for every person, on every day.
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