What to Say to a Potential Bully
There's many reasons that kids decide to bully others. They may have been victims of bullying themselves; they may be lashing out against people or circumstances they don't like or understand; or perhaps they are testing out the limits of their own influence over others.
We can help prevent a culture of bullying by helping children understand more about bullying before they are tempted to engage in it.
Just a few ideas of how to dialogue about this includes:
- Asking them if they've ever been left out or belittled, and how it made them feel.
- Challenging them to befriend someone they perceive as different than them, and getting to know their good attributes.
- Encouraging them to be a leader among their friends, rather than giving into a "herd" mentality that excludes others.
- Sharing with them your own experiences of bullying, either when you may have hurt others or been bullied yourself.
These sort of ongoing conversations will deepen children's understanding of bullying and, hopefully, their compassion for others. In addition, by keeping an open line of communication, you'll have a better pulse on whether any issues concerning bullying are occurring.
Finally, one of the most powerful things you can do to prevent bullying is be a consistent model of someone who shows kindness and respect to others. Kids notice the way adults treat other people and often imitate those actions, whether they are positive or negative.
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