Ever wonder why your kid is a bully OR how your kid is the one who is the target? Sorry to say, parents should look in the mirror. The first messages and lessons come from parents. Children look to parents to know how to ask for help, when to express a need, and even how to avoid danger. The little messages kids see from parents will inform how they behave with peers.
Bullies often see aggression or incivility at home. Do the parents push each other or fight loudly? Perhaps the child sees a parent on the phone rudely gossiping about another person. Aggression in the home space often leads to aggressive kids in school space.
Targets are often told “you are too sensitive…” or parents don’t take their cries for help seriously. Desensitizing a child to ignore his or her inner voice allows them to overlook abuse, abuse that will mushroom over time as the target is viewed as meek or passive. Parents who avoid their own needs, or advise their kids to suppress needs are training kids to put up with the same abuse outside the home.
How can summer be a time to train well-balanced kids and young adults.
- Look in the mirror. Be sure to model behavior that is civil and acceptable in school. If there is a tough conversation, have out of earshot of the children. Don’t gossip about friends with the kids around.
- Listen to children’s needs and address them. Even if the child has a need that can’t be met, allow the child to address the need and rationally explain the resolution. Avoid telling the child his or her sensibility is unreasonable.
- Parents, civilly stand up for self. Children see how parents resolve conflict. If patenting conflict resolution includes cursing, lying and hurting others, the child will model the same behavior with peers. If children see a healthy discussion to resolve a problem, they are empowered to be civil as well.
- Coach children on how to manage conflict. If there is a fight with siblings over toys, food or other privileges, allow both children to air their grievances, respect the perspectives without being condescending. Avoid forcing apologies to diminish either child, but have children reflect on how to resolve issue without yelling and other unwanted behavior. Have them report back to you on how to resolve the problem.
Remember children model what they see. If they see parents bullying each other and adult friends in the home, children will adopt these skills and take them to school. When children see civil resolution, and know how to speak up respectfully, they are more likely to be civil at school and avoid being the target.
Read more posts by Leah Hollis, Ed.D. here. Leah is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.
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