Bullying is a challenging subject, for kids and parents alike. And in today’s society, when bullying is a major topic of discussion between schools, students, and parents, more so than in the last several decades. It seems that everywhere you turn, bullying is in the news and part of the larger topical discussion. With the rise of the Internet and social media over the last decade, cyberbullying has become a new phrase that now means more than ever. Kids have more direct contact with each other than ever before, and as we all know, kids aren’t always the nicest to each other.
Having a conversation with your kids about what bullying is, what it means, and what they can do when they’re faced with it, can be very difficult. The world for our kids is so different than the world we grew up in was, and so kids are bullied in different ways that we couldn’t even have dealt with.
Here are some strategies to use when trying to talk to your kids about bullying:
1) Have more questions than answers.
Kids always say “Parents just don’t understand.” And whether you’d like to admit it or not, in a lot of ways, this can be true. When it comes to a subject as sensitive and unique as bullying, ask more questions than answers. Ask your kids about their school, their friends, their conversations. Learn about what’s important to them so that you can do your best to understand the circumstances of how they might encounter bullying in their peers or themselves.
2) Be very honest.
Your kids will always be aware of more than you think they are. They know more about the world, they are savvier, and they’re always watching. It does you no good when talking to your kids about bullying to pretend like the world is something that both of you know it isn’t. Don’t sugarcoat things, don’t try convincing them that things aren’t as bad as they seem. To your kids, it will feel like you’re not really listening to them, or not taking them seriously, and they might not be motivated to reach out about other difficulties in the future.
3) Share your own experiences.
This is probably the most meaningful thing you can do for your kids when having the conversation about bullying. Your kids always want to relate to you, and sometimes they probably forget that you were once just as freaked out and confused by the world as they are. If your kids share something with you about how they see bullying or are experiencing bullying, talk to them about your days in school dealing with similar issues. Sharing a story from your childhood about how you dealt with a similar problem will help you seem more real and relevant as a person to them, and it will also help them to know that they’re not alone and that they’re not experiencing something new.
Talking to your kids about bullying can be difficult. Like any sensitive subject, it is unique to itself, and it is constantly changing. You want to make sure that your kids know that you care about what they care about and that you’re ready to listen. Don’t necessarily try to solve the problem for them, just letting them know that you’re there and ready to listen will often be enough.
The following was a post by Sarah Jo Lorenz-Coryell