Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Parenting Is the Secret Weapon Against Bullying

This post has been contributed by guest blogger, Susan Raisch, of Tangled Ball

Bullying is a big, complicated issue, which is why I decided that the only way to come up with sustainable solutions is to help untangle the contributing factors one string at a time.

I became interested in the subject of bullying after Columbine.  I was a consultant at ABC News and I realized that, like so many other stories, once the news interest passed, so would people’s willingness to drill deep and find out why kids assumed that this horrific tragedy was rooted in bullying.

When I started to devote most of my time to this issue several years back, I came to the conclusion that it’s a tangled ball.  I decided that I would spend my time on four different aspects:  1.)  Early prevention; 2.) Parenting; 3.) Parent-school relationship and 4.) Role of the “Upstander,” i.e. nurturing leadership.

The common string?  Starting early and focusing on building interpersonal skills and confidence.   

Leadership is the “anti-bully.”

Tangled Ball’s Top Three Tips

1.) Teachable moments come in many forms.

The most well balanced classrooms have an overwhelming majority of students who know the basics of respect.  This comes from the home.  Correcting a child when they lash out or disrespect others, including siblings, is preparing them for that school experience.  Complimenting them when they show kindness is equally important.

2.) Encourage Assertiveness

Young children will really benefit from learning how to stay, “Stop.”  Even shy children can learn how to be appropriately assertive. If they know where those lines are at home, it builds their confidence to stick up for themselves or others without feeling hurt or getting aggressive. 

3.) Swap Out Screen time for Talking Time… and Nurture Compassion

Nurturing compassion takes face-to-face conversation.  It breaks my heart to see children desperately trying to get their parent’s attention but can’t because the parent is glued to their cell or iPad. 

It’s critical that children feel that someone is listening to them.  The biggest advice experts give children when they feel they’re being mistreated is to “tell a trusted adult.” Kids learn from an early age who they can trust to give them undivided attention.  Bullying becomes dangerous emotionally and physically when children keep things to themselves.

If you’re reading this, it means that you’re already a caring parent with wonderful instincts and a desire to make your child’s school experience a happy one.  I applaud you for preparing your child to be someone who adds to the joyful mix of a positive classroom. 

(These are my top tips but for more on the subject, I recommend going to Sesame Street.)

Bravo.  You’re creating little leaders. 

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