Raising Kids Bully-Proof
I'm Bill Corbett, the author of the book LOVE, LIMITS & LESSONS: A PARENT'S GUIDE TO RAISING COOPERATIVE KIDS and I've spent over 25 years working with parents and teachers with children with challenging behaviors. By subscribing to this blog, you'll learn techniques for getting your kids to cooperate with you and the result will be having children who are more loving and fun to be with. These techniques are respectful to both you and your child and when practiced over and over, you'll find yourself with more peace and calmness in your home, or in your classroom if you're a teacher.
One day my 8-year-old daughter didn't arrive home from school as she normally did. I was working from home on this day and quickly became worried. I headed down the street and began retracing her steps back to the local elementary school. As I approached a tall fence that surrounded a ball field, I saw her at the back of the field and began to run toward her. She was being held down by three taller girls who were punching and kicking her. I screamed, "Get away from her NOW!" and the three girls ran away. I got down on my knees and held my daughter so tight, imagining what could have happened if I hadn't been home to go looking for her.
I don't have to tell you that bullying is a huge problem for our children's safety and well-being. Many national organizations that track statistics state that on average, 1 in 3 children report being bullied in some fashion and the results of bullying can be severe. Parents feel powerless when they hug their children goodbye, fearing they may be bullied or subjected to some level of abuse of bullies. But I can tell you that there ARE things parents can do every day to work toward raising their children to become more bully-proof.This post comes from an episode of my CREATING COOPERATIVE KIDS podcast that you
can find wherever you download podcasts or music. In it, I was a featured guest on the TOTAL TUTOR RADIO SHOW and I offered a few tips on how to raise bully-proof kids. One of the most important tips you're going to hear me discuss is allowing your kids to speak up for themselves. When a child is allowed to speak their mind, discuss their dreams and just feel like they are being heard, it becomes easier for them to speak up for them self when approached by a bully. When they are confronted by a bully, you want them to have the courage to speak up and yell "NO", "Leave me alone," or to just scream HELP! But this courage is not developed the way it should be if the child's parents are constantly telling them what to do, speaking for them, telling them they shouldn't feel a certain way or just not listening.
I watched a father and his young son shopping in a grocery store the other day. The boy appeared to be about 8 - 10 years of age. The man was continuously snapping instructions at his son: what he could or could not touch, what he could and could not say. He was even controlling how many steps ahead of the shopping cart he could walk! This total control of his son was robbing the boy of expressing himself and being heard. By the end of the experience, it was easy to tell that the little boy was just mechanically walking next to the carriage, afraid to speak or move. If the father does this regularly, which I'd bet he does, he is training is son to succumb to the control of whoever is bigger and stronger than he is, at the moment. And the worst part is, he may eventually learn to be this way to others smaller and weaker than he is. This is how many bullies are created in the first place. Controlled youth go on to control other youth. And adults who were controlled, go to control other kids and adults.
To help your child develop the courage to speak up to someone who may attempt to control them, here are some tips you can begin using immediately. Take opportunities at least once a day to be in the moment with your child to listen and really hear them. This requires getting to their eye level, making and keeping eye contact, and letting them speak. It also requires that you NOT speak, at least not at the beginning of your moment with them. If you feel compelled to talk, ask questions to draw out more from your child by saying things like, "Tell me more," or "And then what happened?" or "And what happened next?" or "Why do you think she did that?" or "I love it when you tell me things," or using simple expressive words like, WOW, or REALLY, or OH MY! I encourage parents to have one of these 100% present moments at least once a day with each child. Children love these and may ask for them after they've experienced them.
Finally, avoid speaking for your child and definitely, avoid controlling their words and actions like the father I saw in the grocery store. As weird as this may sound, there was a news story a few years ago that revealed a pair of teenage girls working at an ice cream store down south was getting spanked by their boss when they did something wrong in their duties serving ice cream. When the authorities discovered this had been going on for some time, they asked the girls why they didn't report this earlier. The girls said that they were each spanked well into their teenage years and that they didn't think there was anything wrong with it. What kinds of control are you using on your child that they might think is a normal behavior for others to use on them?
If you have questions that I can answer for you, I hope you will consider joining my RAISING AN INDEPENDENT CHILD Facebook page. I'd love to hear from you and help you implement some of these ideas. But let me caution you. Don't try to implement everything you learn in this podcast, all at once. It could overwhelm you. Pick just one or two tips at a time and do them over and over. Then replay the episodes at a later time to learn more. If you need more clarification or help with implementing my tips, contact me on my Facebook page and I'll help you make them work.
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