Written by: Katya on 07/08/17
Coaching your child through a bully problem? You’re not alone. Teach your child to focus on the things they can do, not on what they can’t do. “You can never make people behave the way you want them to – but you can control the way you behave.” The following positive parenting techniques checklist can give you pointers for helping your child focus on what really matters when he or she is being bullied.
People don’t develop confidence by accident. When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? What sort of conversation is going on in the back of your mind about your qualities, your characteristics? It’s so important to foster a positive, realistic self-image. There is nothing wrong with seeing the need for improvement. But if there is one thing a bully feeds off of, it is the person who feels inadequate. Parents can do so much for their children by taking an interest in what they love, helping them become proficient in it, and praise them for their growth and development. Love them unconditionally, let them know they are enough, just as they are – but encourage them to become everything they can be.
Kids need this background of praise and acceptance at home so they can project the confidence that says, “I want us to be friends – but your approval is not what drives me.” A bully can make someone feel like they need to meet a criteria of acceptance, instead of acceptance being given unconditionally. A good parenting advice is to equip your child with the tools to have a confident self-image, and he or she will be less influenced by bullies who use manipulation to bring others down.
Prepare yourself physically and mentally.
“The best offense is a good defense.” While you never want to give your child the idea that aggression will solve their problems, there is nothing wrong with helping them learn to defend themselves. Why? I mean, as parents we are hoping they never have to, right?
True, but the confidence that one can project simply by knowing how to handle themselves is often, in and of itself, a deterrent. The targets are never going to be people who look alert and intelligent like they are aware of their surroundings, prepared to handle threats. If practicing a self-defense routine does nothing else, it creates an increased awareness of one’s surroundings. By nature, predators look for easy prey. A positive parenting technique is to teach your kids to not be easy prey. “Make yourself more difficult to corner, more difficult to insult, more difficult to hurt.” Kids can learn to stand up for themselves and for others who are not as strong and confident as they are.
This should go without saying, but if you want to have friends, be friendly! Bullies are not going to instantly respond, but you and your kids may be surprised at the cold hearts that eventually melt because of kindness. It’s not unheard of for a kid who has a reputation for being a bully to eventually become friends with someone who simply insisted on always being kind to everyone. Often, in such cases, it turns out his or her home life has been in distress in one way or another, and they are struggling to cope. Help your children understand that it’s hard to know who is going to need them for friends, so they can decide to be that person for whoever may need it.
Go out of your way to be helpful to the one who bullies you.
Disarm a tense relationship with intentional acts of helpfulness. It may take a lot of time, but it’s really hard to forever ignore a person who insists on being helpful. Stubborn people can go a really long time without acknowledging everything you do for them, but that doesn’t matter. Especially if your child gets the opportunity to help them get out of a scrape, it may just win over a friend that ends up closer than a brother.
Speak, think, and act positively.
Does it sound hard to put so much effort into kindness toward someone who is trying to make you miserable? Your child will probably respond an enthusiastic, “YES!” It’s true. There is a lot of dedication involved in solving the issue of bullying. It’s not something that just goes away. Negativity has to be pushed out with positivity. So teach your kids to start with themselves. If they learn the art of showing kindness to themselves with the way they think and speak about themselves, acting with kindness to others will come a lot more naturally.
Positive thinking is the result of sound thinking. Does your child feel that he or she has a weight problem? Academic struggles? Social challenges? Another positive parenting technique is to help them work through the individual weaknesses they perceive in themselves, to identify what really is a weakness and what is not. Being different is not being weak. However, self-sabotage is sometimes at play when children are expressing these kinds of issues. If steps can be taken to make improvements, and your child knows it, that’s one thing. But if they have these perceptions due to comparisons they are making between themselves and other children, it’s time to have discussions on how much the world needs your child’s unique contribution to the world – imperfections and all. That’s the kind of positive thinking that will prompt your child to make the world a better place, regardless of what they struggle with personally. What an example to set for someone who is being a bully!
Surround yourself with supportive friends.
All of this tips and help for parents sounds really great, doesn’t it? It is! But being the one to take the high road really does take a lot of intellectual and emotional effort – and sometimes your child may begin to feel run down. When your child is dealing with the up and down rollercoaster of dealing with bullies, make sure they spend ample time with good friends that support them and lift them up. Be there for them in whatever way you can, to provide emotional recovery periods so they don’t give up. It will always be worth the effort to win over someone who seems to be the enemy. But that does not mean it’s going to be easy. Remind your child to take time for themselves, refill their emotional cup doing activities they really enjoy, with people who remind them just how special they really are.
Don’t be a bully yourself!
It’s not uncommon for kids who become bullies to be the ones who don’t receive enough attention at home. Which makes sense, because parents who are plugged in and paying attention would be more likely to notice bully-like tendencies building in their child. So make sure you are taking time to help your child understand concepts like compassion, respect for others, boundaries, and the qualities of a true friend.
If your child struggles to make friends, there may be underlying self-confidence issues. Working through these will empower your child to take themselves seriously, to take personal responsibility for their actions, and to not take others for granted. It all comes back full-circle to confidence. Strong relationships require inner strength in the individuals involved. If you need to do your research and visit parenting advice websites, do it! Learn from others who’ve been on the same page. Teach your child to focus on building that inner security, so they can be the friend that others need them to be!
If you’ve ever struggled with a bully problem, we’d love to hear your pointers as well. What do you share with your kids to help them through the issue? Let us know!
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