October was National Anti–Bullying Awareness Month, a great opportunity to change the lives of children around the corner and around the world simply by teaching and coaching the power of choice. Children can choose to stop being a bully, to help prevent bullying or to get help – the choice is theirs. They just need the right tools to make the right decision.
As parents, teachers, coaches, friends and concerned citizens, we each can make a difference by learning the signs and helping to stop bullying all year round. Be it in school, a playground or shopping mall, if we understand the signs and know what to look for, we can each make an impact.
Below are seven tips for how you can combat bullying, according to Dr. Rosalinda Mercardo-Garza, Principal, Southwest Middle and High Schools, and sponsored by Equilibria and Lewis Senior, co-founder of Equilibria and co-author with his daughter, Laura Senior Garcia, of At the End of the Day: How One Man Learned to Live Like He Was Dying.
1. Do unto others. Teach kids that bullying is not okay under any circumstances. Explain the affects it can have. Victims must understand they do not deserve this and it’s not their fault. Perpetrators should understand they need to think before they speak or act out violently and realize there are consequences. Bystanders should find an adult to intervene and let friends know it’s not “cool” to bully others.
2. Look for the signs. Depending on the type of bullying (cyber, verbal and/or emotional, physical), the signs can range from depression, to low self-esteem, to unexplained anger, to low school attendance, to unexplained bruises or lacerations. Ask questions. Keep the lines of communication open. You need to know if your child is being bullied, acting as the aggressor or just standing by and watching. If you are unclear, seek the help of a professional at school or a doctor.
3. Start the dialog. Make sure you communicate with your child. Don’t just talk; listen to what they’re saying and, perhaps more importantly, listen to what they’re not saying. Subtle clues can speak volumes. Your child could be the victim, the perpetrator or a bystander. With each case, things can be done and help can be received, but you need to ask the questions, even if the answers may be difficult to hear.
4. Create a safe zone. Create a place in your home or a signal where your kids are free to speak without repercussions. Let your child know that you’re their advocate, their friend, their protector. Teach them that these types of behaviors are not acceptable and no matter what, you will help them. Make sure they understand it’s not their fault and that you will fix this together or, if need be, with professional help.
5. Find an adult. Be sure your child has a responsible, trusted adult that they can talk to if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you. It can be a family member, coach, teacher, principal, doctor, counselor or other administrator to discuss what is happening and how they are feeling. They should NEVER be ashamed. There are plenty of people who want to help. In the case of bystanders, they should know that they should get the closest adult to intervene.
6. Teach your kids how to use the E-Colors and Personal Intervention (pause/play tool). Help your children to understand themselves better through the E-Colors Junior PDI – www.equilibria.com. This will give them some insight into themselves that could prevent them from becoming a victim or an aggressor. Utilize Personal Intervention to exercise their power of choice and be able to pause if their reactions are driving them to say or do things that could be harmful physically or emotionally to them and/or others. They can also exercise their Personal Intervention by hitting their internal play button when their reactions are driving them not to say or do something to dissolve a bullying situation.
7. The power of choice. Constantly teach your kids that we all have the power of choice. We can choose how we react and no one can change that. They can choose to not to be a bully. They can choose to stand up to a bully. They can choose to prevent bullying from taking place by finding an adult to intervene.
Have more tips? We’d love to hear your suggestions, please feel free to post your ideas in the comments section below.