Studies on bullying show that, generally, kids don’t bully kids who are in groups. When you’re the new kid, you may not yet have found your group. “Bully-proofing” our kids is a difficult but essential task for parents because, let’s face it, our kids will deal with bullies in one shape or another for the rest of their lives. As adults we know and work with people who might try to demean us both overtly and covertly, undermine us, or just push the boundaries and try to manipulate to get their way.
The best defense is good offense in the form of assertiveness. Assertiveness is an essential skill whether you’re in the classroom or the boardroom, but most of us just aren’t very good at it. The first step is to understand the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Assertiveness is taking responsibility for what I am feeling and what I need to happen. Aggressiveness is about blaming others and hurting others either verbally or physically. “I Messages” are a form of communication that helps both kids and adults communicate in an assertive manner, stating what “I” am feeling and what “I” need. (See my previous blog about I Messages here)
Even if your child is not the target of a bully, assertiveness in the form of speaking up is one of the most effective antidotes to bullying. In most bullying incidents, adults are not around. It is important to help kids understand the different between “snitching” and reporting. When just one child speaks up and says “Stop!” to a bully, it shows the bully his or her actions are wrong. It also can encourage others to do the same. When kids collectively stand up and say “no” to bullying, a bully gets the message loud and clear that the behavior is not OK and will NOT be tolerated.
Assertiveness is not just about being verbally assertive. Talk to kids about their body language as well. Eye contact, facial expressions, shoulders back, head held high all communicate strength and confidence. For more information on how parents can help kids stand up to bullies, click here.
No parent should move without a written game plan to help your children deal with the difficulties they face when moving.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.