Recently my cousin posted on Facebook, an appeal to report a page that was bullying her 12 year old son. This page was made up of 11 and 12 year olds who seem to have nothing better to do than leave malicious slander that was hurting not only my cousins son but also other youngsters in his school.
We all hate bullies and desperately want to protect our children from being hurt by other children but what do we do to actually prevent our children from doing the bullying? I thought I would do some research in to this as the younger you start training children the better so I wanted to learn how to teach my kids to be empathic on the playground.
Understanding why kids bully. Obviously all children are different and will bully for different reasons but often there is insecurity or a feeling of not being in control which kids have so they try and control someone else by being mean. This can take the form of name calling, leaving someone out or even being physically abusive. Picking on someone else provides them with a feeling of importance or might make them feel popular.
Sometimes kids have no idea that it isnt acceptable to pick one someone because they are different so they need to be taught and some kids might see aggressive or unkind interactions at home and copy that behaviour while they are in school so it is important to try and set good examples for your children as they learn from us. Very young children may not understand what they are doing hurts others so they need to be gently told so they fully comprehend it.
Setting a good example at home is paramount. I try and let my children see me and my husband as much as possible help other people. This can be as small as buying a coffee for a homeless person, encouraging my children to put money in a street entertainers hat, offering to help one another with household tasks etc. We also are careful with what we say. It can be very easy when someone has annoyed you and you want to vent to your other half to come out with phrases like that mother in the playground was an absolute cow! and I know I am guilt of slagging off people as much as the next person, but I have tried to curtail it when my children are around as I dont want them picking up on either my speech or that I think it is okay to be rude about other people. Obviously I want my children to talk to me so I try and encourage them to be constructive. For example if my son had someone who snatched a toy away I will want him to tell me about it, how it made him feel and why it might of happened. Maybe the other boy didnt realise how much my son wanted it and how to handle it next time it happens.
Something I have recently done with my Beaver Scout group is given them all a piece of paper and told them to scrunch it up as hard as possible. Then I asked them to try and smooth it out and asked them if it looked like it did when I gave it to them. They all said no, they couldnt get it smooth again. I used this to try and explain the effects of bullying. Sometimes even after a bully has stopped there are scars that wont go away when someone is that upset.
According to research, most children who bully have been bullied themselves so look out for signs of bullying and try and use their previous experience to explain how frightening it is to be bullied. Watch out for my next blog where I will share some tips about what to do if your child is being bullied.