Intervene when children are young. Children who bully are not born bullies and children who are victimized are not born victims. Many young children engage in aggressive behaviors that may lead to bullying, while others react by submitting to the bullying or even may fight back. Adults can stop these patterns before they are started by encouraging supportive behaviors such as sharing, helping, and problem-solving, and also by putting a stop to aggressive responses such as hostility, hurting, and rejection.
Teach bullying prevention strategies to all and not just some children. Don’t assume that only “challenging” children become bullies or that only “weak” children become victims. Most children are likely to be victimized by a bully or some type of bullying at some point in their lives. And all children can benefit from learning the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. How they can stand up for themselves, and others; and when to turn to an adult for help is also very important to learn.
Take bullying seriously. Pay close attention to the warning signs. Make sure children know that bullying will not be tolerated and that you and other adults will assist them in make bullying stop.
Encourage empathy. Children who can empathize understand that bullying hurts not just mentally but also physically. They are less likely to bully and more likely to assist children who are bullied.
Teach by example. Be an effective role model. Children learn how to behave by watching and copying the adults in their lives. Consider how you solve problems, how you discipline, how you control your own anger and disappointment, and how you stand up for yourself and others without fighting. If children observe you acting aggressively, they are more likely to show aggression toward others.
Help children understand media violence. Children may learn aggressive behaviors by watching television and movies that make light of violence. Playing violent video games that reward violent behavior should be avoided. Help children understand that how the media shows violence is often unrealistic and inappropriate. Intervene when you see children imitating media violence in their daily play or in their social interactions with other children.
Create opportunities for children to learn and practice the qualities and skills that can protect them from bullying. Children who are confident are less likely to put up with bullying of themselves and others, and are more likely to have the courage and inner-strength to respond in a correct and helpful manner. Children who are assertive know how to react in a bullying situation in a successful, non-aggressive way, and they are less likely to be singled out by bullies in the first place. Children who know how to make and keep friends can look to them for protection from bullying. Children that know how to solve problems constructively can often diffuse a situation that can turn aggressive.
Encourage children to talk about what is happening and report bullying. When they do, listen carefully, and be very patient: Talking about bullying can be difficult, and children may feel embarrassed or scared to share their concerns. A child that feels judged or feels that they are not being listened is less likely to seek help from an adult.
Develop strong connections with the children you are with. Children are less likely to bully if they know it will disappoint an adult whom they respect and trust. Likewise, children are more likely to share with an adult a bullying situation if they feel that they have a caring and trusting relationship with that adult.
Take a look at your own beliefs about bulling. Your own misconceptions may prevent you from “seeing or understanding” a potential bullying incident and intervening as quickly as you should.
For more information about how you can help call us at 866-459-7225 or visit our website at http://simpleacts.org