The fifth part in our National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month series will focus on how to talk about bullying. Parents, caregivers, school faculty and staff, community members, and even other peers can help prevent—or end—a bullying situation by knowing how to open the conversation.
A Preface to How to Talk About Bullying
Bullying can be a difficult topic to begin discourse about for everyone involved. It can be hard for a child suffering from bullying to reach out for help just as it can be difficult for an adult who has observed a bullying situation to try and end it.
The very first step to work through how to talk about bullying, however, is to simply be open to having the conversation in the first place. If an adult or child is closed off, then the bullying situation will never be addressed.
Adults can begin the conversation and try to prevent bullying by talking about the following:
- If a child is reaching out for help, try to help them understand bullying.
- Encourage communication and keep all avenues for conversation open.
- Encourage children to do what they love and demonstrate how to properly treat others—with respect and kindness.
How to Help Kids Understand Bullying
According to stopbullying.gov, adults can assist children in understanding, and therefore identify it, in the following ways:
- Encourage children to seek help from an adult they know and trust. The adult can help solve the situation, or at the very least provide support.
- Teach children how to, and that they can, stand up against their peers who bully. Using humor to diffuse the situation, telling the bully to “stop”, or simply walking away, are all strategies a child can use to take power back into their own hands and end a bullying situation.
- Teach children they can make a difference and help their peers if they witness a bullying situation.
How to Keep Avenues for Communication Open
According to stopbullying.gov, adults can help prevent or stop bullying by keeping lines of communication open to children in the following ways:
- Start a conversation that allows easy transition into about how the child is dealing with the day or how they are feeling at the moment. This can be with conversation starters such as “What was lunch like at school today? Did you talk to anyone?” or “What happened at school today? Anything good/bad?”
- Directly brining up bullying in a conversation. This should be done where a child feels they can answer these questions honestly in a safe space. A conversation can be started about bullying with questions such as “Why do you think people bully?” or “Have you ever seen someone bullying situation at your school?”.
- Parents and caregivers can try to stay open with children about their daily lives. Proactively reaching out to other parents or talking to teachers can allow you to notice if there are any abnormalities in the life of a child.
How to Encourage Children in a Way That Will Discourage Bullying
There are steps adults can take that may discourage a child from bullying or help a child recover from being bullied.
One way is to encourage children to take part in extracurricular activities or develop a hobby. This can help prevent bullying by keeping children engaged with peers and busy. This can also help a child recover from bullying by providing them with a way to build self-confidence and create new friendships.
Another way to potentially prevent bullying is for the adults in a child’s life to model how to treat people correctly by demonstrating kindness and respect in their dealings with others.