Could your Tween Be the Bully?
A few years ago, I was at a school and overheard a parent say, “Did you hear about ‘so and so’; he’s becoming quite the bully. My kid would never do that.” Everyone nodded in agreement. Two days later, that parent’s son punched a classmate and teased a girl about her weight.
No one wants to think that their child would do that. What if your child really is the bully? How can you prevent your tween from bullying and encourage him or her to be a leader?
We’re all born with the capacity to be empathetic; this does not, however, guarantee it will develop on its own. Take the time to develop empathy in your tween. Effective ways to do so are just as simple as asking, “How would YOU feel if ‘so and so’ happened?”
Teach tweens positive ways to lead.
Bullies actually have phenomenal leadership abilities. Teach your child to use their leadership ability in positive ways such as volunteering at the library, helping out neighbors or donating some of their allowance/toys/clothing to help others.
Monitor media, such as TV, video games, and music.
Media doesn’t necessarily cause mean behavior, but it can cultivate a culture of mean. Many shows feature scenes with repeated and intentional remarks, teasing and even violence. Rather than forbidding these shows, watch and discuss them with your tween. Identify certain behaviors and talk about the impact these behaviors can have.
Get them involved in physical activities.
Horseback riding, soccer, rock climbing, hiking, running – even jump-roping and bowling are great activities to help kids redirect their energy into something positive. Involvement in activities also helps your child to learn friendship and teamwork skills as well as build self-esteem.
Finally, lead by example.
Let your child see you handle tricky situations. Discuss the different ways you could’ve handled the circumstance and the choice you made. This helps your tween to consider his or her own actions and choices. Plus, the more often your tween sees you taking the moral high ground, the more likely he or she will do the same.