12 Tips to Stop Peer Cruelty and Raise Kind Kids
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is a myth that needs to be dispelled. Bullying is viewed as one of the most serious public health problems in our school systems. The effects can cause immense stress and may result in serious mental health issues for children. Caring, committed adults using research-based strategies can turn this terrible trend around. Here are tips from my new book, End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy: The Proven 6Rs of Bullying Prevention That Create Inclusive, Safe and Caring Schools (Free Spirit Pub, 2018) educators and parents can use to stop bullying and create the schools our children deserve.
1.Be on the same page. Go to your school’s website or handbook and review the rules on bullying with your kids. Ask them to teach you the bullying prevention skills they’re learning at school, for example, what to do when they see somebody being bullied. If the school has a speaker about bullying, try to be there and then discuss at home what you learned.
2. Define bullying. Bullying is intentional-not accidental-cruelty and there is a power imbalance where one child cannot hold their own. Normal conflict is when kids have a disagreement or a difference of opinion but both have equal power. Then ask: “What do you do if you see or experience bullying? How do you report it?”
3. Make kindness count! Consciously model kind behavior so your child sees kindness. Whenever you do a kind act, tell your child how good it makes you feel. Be explicit about your expectations: “I expect you to treat everyone kindly.” And look for opportunities for your child to be kind and then acknowledge it: “That was a very kind thing to do.”
4. Reinforce assertiveness. Kids with an assertive posture are less likely to be picked on. Teach your child: “Always look at the color of the talker’s eyes.” It will help him stand tall, hold his head up and appear more confident and less vulnerable.