What can I do as an adult to combat bullying?

As an adult you can have a big influence on the lives of children around you.

Here are some ways you can help reduce bullying among the children in your life:

Lead by example

Children imitate what adults do. Be sure to model behaviour that is respectful and empathetic. Show children how you positively resolve conflict in your life.

Establish a code of conduct

Involve children in creating a list of what they think is acceptable behaviour. Children are more likely to follow rules that they have helped create and if they choose not to follow them, you can point them back to the rules THEY made.

Use consequences that teach

A consequence sends a message that bullying is unacceptable but can be modified to help the child who is bullying learn skills and acquire insights they may be lacking. For example, a child may have to sit out of an activity as a consequence to their bullying, but they can also use that time to write an apology to the person they were bullying. This can help them understand the impact their bullying has on others.

Encourage children to report

Explain the difference between tattling and telling. Tattling is done to get someone into trouble, telling is done to get someone out of trouble. You can also provide an anonymous way for children to report bullying.

Acknowledge positive behaviours

The more you praise a behaviour, the more often it will happen. Make a habit of giving lots of attention and praise to positive, respectful and cooperative behaviours.

Reduce chances for bullying

Try to break up groups of children who may act aggressively together. Plan activities where a child being bullied is surrounded by people who will stand up for them, and choose teams/groups/seating arrangements to avoid a bullied child being left out.

Teach the social skills children lack

Help children practice standing up for themselves through role play and role modelling. 

Some children may need reminders of effective strategies for problem solving and resisting peer pressure. Give frequent reminders and be optimistic about the fact that child can use them.

Build on children's strengths

Children being bullied often have low self esteem; participating in activities they enjoy can help boost their self esteem.

Many children who bully benefit from opportunities to use their natural leadership skills.

Trust your instincts

If you suspect someone is being bullied, they probably are - trust your instincts and intervene.

Be ready to listen and help

If a child is ready to report bullying, listen right away, don't put it off. Thank the child for having the courage to tell you. Respond to all reports of bullying (even if it seems trivial) - consistency matters.

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