“I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
It doesn’t matter how old you are. Those can be the sweetest, most powerful words to receive if you’ve been on the receiving end of repeated, intentional behavior that is meant to demean and diminish. It highlights the need for people in our lives, including kids, to have our backs.
Tell a trusted adult.
That’s the most common piece of advice that experts give children when they’ve been the target of bullying behavior but most kids don’t tell. We can probably remember reasons why we didn’t talk to anyone about it, either, growing up. Embarrassment, shame, fear of retaliation, worried no one will do anything about it, being called a tattle-tale, or in general, things getting worse. The list goes on and on, including the new fear of having technology taken away as punishment or a preventative measure. But if they don’t tell us, we can’t help and soon it can be too big to handle alone, especially in this “new neighborhood.” To honor October’s National Bullying Prevention Month, here are ways we can step it up to raise confident kids.
10 Ways to be a Trusted Adult:
- Actively listen. Consider having a secret handshake or a “listening zone” in your house. Cozy and private. (Cell phones down.)
- React so they will come back. (Don’t overreact or under react.)
- Strategize. Is it a big enough deal to go to the teacher and/or principal?
- Don’t overshare. Only share the information with people who can genuinely help.
- Follow Through and Follow Up. If you promise help, make sure you follow through, i.e., if you promise to talk with the teacher, make sure it happens. Kids also like the feeling that adults haven’t forgotten about them. A casual ‘how are things going‘ (even if things look like they’re better) will take the burden off a child trying to broach the subject a second time.
- Help them through their emotions in order to communicate more confidently.
- Course correct when you feel they’re adding to the problem. Try not to be judgmental and make sure they get their whole story out first.
- If you have to address it with the school, do it rationally. (Hard to do when we’re trying to protect our cubs but keep a cool head!)
- Validate them. We all need a little “you don’t deserve that!” reassurance sometimes.
- Carve out some time for fun and distraction. You both may need to de-stress…and laughter can help get us all through the bumps in the road!
You are Superheroes in Mom Jeans and Dad Sneakers. You’ve got this. Not just during October but every month of the year. ?