We all want our kids to do the right thing when they see someone being mean. We want them to speak out and defend the child who is being targeted. But doing that in real life can be really hard no matter your age. In order to help you child speak out here are three tips I’ve found helpful.
1.Take the pressure off. No kid wants to walk through school thinking about being the “up-stander” all the time. Instead you’re asking them step in and out of bullying situations when they arise. So when they see someone being cruel, they recognize that this is their moment to get involved by either pulling the target away from the aggressor, distracting the aggressor, telling the bully to stop in the way they think is most realistic or as a last resort telling a trusted adult.
2.Don’t just talk about your values. If we want our kids to put our values in action then we have to talk about these values in a context that they can relate to. It’s not good enough to say, “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” or “Be kind,” because in moments of conflicts it can be really hard to turn these general ideas into action. Instead, ask your child what they think is your family’s most important values and expectations about how you all should treat other people. Then ask them to apply their answers to common, real life conflicts they see between students and then have a discussion about how they can best apply your values into an action plan.
3.Look in the mirror. It’s so common to talk about being good role models for our kids but what does that really mean? It means treating people with dignity when you really don’t want to and letting our kids see that. So we have to ask ourselves hard questions like, “How do we express our anger?” In the little moments in the car to the big ones with our family and friends, do forthrightly communicate our feelings? Do we communicate without putting the other person down? Do we stand up for ourselves when people are doing that to us? When we do those things well-we will be the real role models are children want us to be.
Cover image courtesy of Flickr