When I hear the word bully, I think of “Biff “from Back to the Future. Biff Tannen was a big, selfish bully who got what he wanted by intimidating others. Biff had an overbearing personality and was just plain mean. He had poor social skills and terrorized everyone who crossed his path. Biff was a stereotypical bully.
But is this really what a modern day bully looks like?
I was surprised to learn that a “real bully” is actually very popular, has excellent social skills and high self esteem. They are aggressive AND pro-social, they are also competent and have a lot of assets. I don’t get it – this kind of kid sounds like they have it all together. Why would they bully?
Well I learned from bullying prevention expert Tracy Vaillancourt (see her bio it’s impressive!) that we must first appreciate that most children and youth are capable of bullying others. Bullying is a relationship problem and is about power – or rather, an abuse of power.
In today’s schools, approximately 12 per cent of girls and 18 per cent of boys reported bullying others. This means that in a classroom of 35 students, between four and six children are bullying others. Yikes! That’s a lot of relationship problems!
It’s important for all children to have healthy and productive relationships, whether they are bullying, are being bullied or are witnessing bullying. Having healthy relationships will help decrease bullying and this is where parents can help.
Here are 8 key strategies to help kids build positive relationships:
- Talk about the effect of bullying on others. Ask how they would feel if someone was picking on them. Would they want to be left out, or put down?
- Teach your child that they may not like everyone but it is important to treat everyone with respect.
- Talk to your child about their own strengths. Teach them how they can use their power to help – not hurt – others.
- Acknowledge positive behaviours by praising respectful and cooperative behaviour when it happens.
- Help your child learn healthy ways to control anger, solve problems and resist peer pressure to bully.
- If you hear the beginnings of a hurtful comment, it is important to stop and address the problem when it occurs.
- Teach your child that real leaders show respect for others.
- Be a positive role model as children learn by example.
Parents can influence bullying behaviours. Let’s all do our part to help stand up and not stand by. Do you have anything more to share with us?
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.