Empowering your child with skills to protect against bullying isn’t about teaching them to fight. It’s about identifying problem situations, and either avoiding them or dealing with those issues.

Bullying has many forms. It includes physical violence, verbal abuse, excluding, and online abuse. It is not exclusive to any age range, and even preschoolers are reporting acts of bullying. As a parent, there are several ways you can teach your child how to deal with these situations.

Teach Kids Respect

The first step in combatting this issue is to teach kids to respect themselves and others. Teach them about differences and celebrating those differences. They will learn that everyone has traits that are unique to them. These traits are what become part of our identity.

Use Positive Disciplining Methods

Disciplining your children teaches them a lot about relationships. If you smack your child, you’re teaching them that power equals physical violence. If you demonstrate power over your child, you’re showing them how to exert power over others. This leads to unhealthy relationships and communication. Instead, use compassionate and positive methods of discipline. Be a positive influence in your child’s life, rather than a negative influence.

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Look For Anti-Bullying Programs

Consider enrolling your child in a program such as martial arts. Many centers run anti-bullying initiatives that teach kids how to deal with bullying. Again, it’s not about using violence. It’s about building confidence, prevention, identifying problems and addressing them.

Identify Bullying Behaviors

Teach your child about bullying. Talk about what it is and the different types of bullying behavior. Ask them whether they have noticed any forms of bullying in their school. Give examples. Before you can tackle bullying, you need to be able to identify it.

Build Confidence

Discuss ways your child can assert themselves in a positive way. For example, how to tell another child to take their turn if they are pushing in. Or telling them how to explain that a certain behavior is not acceptable. Go through scenarios and suggest ways they could deal with those situations. Build up your child’s confidence in dealing with difficult situations.

Role Play

Role Playing difficult situations with your child can help them build up their responses. Explain that bullies operate by eliciting a response from their victims. They may wish their victim to exhibit fear. Or, they may try to get their victim to fight back. Either way, this is fuelling the situation.

Teach children to respond with confidence by looking them in the eye. The best strategy is to keep their dignity and to allow the bully to keep theirs. Demonstrate how they can remain calm, diffuse the situation, and walk away. This refusal to engage may be enough to discourage the bully to continue their course of action.

Encourage Talk

Encourage your child to talk openly about problems they’re having at school. Ge them to open up about any bullying behaviors that are occurring. It is also a good idea to notify the school so they can also take steps to deal with the situation.

There are many effective ways to help your child to deal with bullies. It’s not about fighting back; it’s about empowering. Throughout your child’s life, teach them about respect for themselves and others. Model compassion, confidence, and caring. Encourage your child to talk and use role play as a way to build up their anti-bullying strategies.

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