Every October during National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, we focus on how to prevent bullying and how to address it when it happens.
But in order to prevent and address the behavior, we need to understand it. What is bullying? According to this guide from the Department of Education, it is “when a person hurts, embarrasses, or frightens another person on purpose over and over again.”
Every parent can agree that we don’t want our children bullied and we don’t want our children to be bullies. But how can we prevent both parts of this behavior? When is it bullying and when is it just young kids working out social differences?
One challenge in bullying prevention is teaching a child to stand up for him or herself but also teaching them when to seek help from an adult. We don’t want to coddle our children or encourage “tattling,” but we do want them to resolve bullying when it happens so that it doesn’t have a long-term effect on their emotional or social well-being.
You can set a good foundation with your child by watching this “Happy to Be Me” segment from Sesame Street together. Talk to your child about whether he or she has felt like Big Bird.
Then ask your child what he or she did when that happened. Use the discussion tools that accompany this clip. By learning how your child dealt with a previous issue, you can determine if you need to step in and talk to the school or if your child seems to be handling it well.
Remember that this is just an initial discussion. Even if you discover your child faced bullying and handled it well, you still need to check in regularly to ensure the bullying doesn’t continue and his or her self-esteem is developing.
For more information on how to address bullying at the elementary school level, pick up the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books, available on Amazon.