Bullying: Top 5 Conversations to Have With Your Kids in 2011

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Sadly, in 2010 we saw incidents of bullying that led to tragedy. However bullying–whether it’s cyber-bullying or in-person bullying–is an issue that parents have the ability to influence enormously.

In part one of our series of the Top 5 Conversations to Have With Your Kids in 2011, we discussed tips for talking about drugs and alcohol with your kids. And in the last segment, we discussed body image. For part three of our series, we are focusing on an issue that continues to permeate the media, school yards and PTA meetings: bullying.

6 Tips for Talking About Bullying With Your Kids

Having regular and open conversations with your children can help parents prevent kids from participating in bullying or being a victim, and also bring to light any issues your child may be facing. Here are tips for having these conversations:

  1. Teach your kids to treat everyone with kindness and respect: One of the most enduring messages we can offer our children is to treat others as we would like to be treated. It’s also critical that you are mindful of your own actions and words. Be an example for your child and ensure your behavior reflects this teaching.
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  2. Teach acceptance of differences: Explain that the world is made up of people with a diverse range of religions, physical appearances and sexual orientations and that’s what makes life interesting and exciting. Underscore that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
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  3. Accept your child for who they are: Your child may have different tastes and personality traits than you, but it’s important to love them for who they are. Children who feel accepted, safe and secure with their parents are the ones who are best equipped to go out and succeed in the world. They have the most confidence, get the highest grades in school and enjoy a wide circle of friends.
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  4. Encourage mentors outside the home: Although so much work can be achieved inside the home, remember that there are also many powerful influences at school. Encourage your child to go to a trusted adult such as a teacher, guidance counselor or coach if they are experiencing a school environment that does not feel safe.
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  5. Watch out for cyber-bullying: More than 64% of teens online admit they engage in behavior they wouldn’t want their parents to know about. It’s critical to also have open conversations with your children about the sites they frequent to ensure they aren’t communicating with anyone inappropriate or engaging in unsafe activities.  Flag the golden rule of cyberspace–don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life.
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  6. Keep your kids safe online: As they are growing up in a digital age, kids today often don’t have the same understanding that adults do as to the transparency of the Internet. Remind your children that nothing is private on the Internet, so be careful not to divulge personal information or anything that could impact them in the future.

For more parenting tips and tools, please visit http://www.caron.org/parenting-tips-and-tools.html.

Tammy Granger is Caron’s Regional Director of Student Assistance Programs for Caron Treatment Centers. As such, she manages Student Assistance Services in the Northeast region in private and public schools as well as colleges and universities.

Caron’s Student Assistance Program currently reaches more than 60,000 students, teachers and parents annually.

Image courtesy of www.fls.net.

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