How does Dr. Michele Borba do it all? She’s an award-winning author of 23 parenting books, including The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, international speaker, educational consultant, parenting expert as well as a child and adolescent expert and a regular contributor to the Today Show. That’s in between being a guest on countless other national shows and the expert featured in multiple magazines.
While we know that bullying peaks during those middle school years, one of our biggest mistakes is waiting until then to have those “bullying” chats with our kids. Habits start early, so we need to start teaching bully prevention strategies far earlier. For instance, new research shows a commonality between bullies and victims .. both lack problem solving. We can start teaching problem solving in preschool: “Tell me the problem…okay, let’s think of one thing you can do instead.” If we want our children to be able to hold their own and be less likely to be bullied, we should stop rescuing, talking for them, or always solving their problems. Instead, we can teach them to use a firm voice and say, “Stop it. I don’t like it.” Or learn to hold their head up, look the person in the eye so their body appears stronger and more confident. We also need to help our kids develop empathy and impulse control. Skills are teachable. Our children need skills to be able to navigate a sometimes vicious social jungle. It’s up to us to teach them those core skills. Doing so is a key first step to reducing the bullying problem.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge mobilizes groups and makes the step up, roll up their sleeves and work on solutions. The first step to engaging people in the bullying prevention solution is through education. I’ve worked in dozens of communities where parents, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, ministers, the press, etc are working together. Start with holding book clubs and read one good book about bullying together. Ask the local newspaper to put in weekly articles about bullying and simple solutions. Bring in a good speaker about bullying to talk to your PTA. Ask the principal to put simple bully prevention tips in the school newsletter. Pediatricians and Boys and Girls Club directors can post tips in their office. The city librarian can set aside a display in the local library with books and resources that are available. Show folks that bullying can be prevented by giving them the resources. It will make a difference!