No one wants their child to be bullied or to be a bully. Here at Sheldon Acres, we intervene with any aggressive behavior that we see during our programs, but as your child’s primary caregiver, your influence is the most important. Here are some ways you can address and prevent bullying behavior.

Children don’t have a complete understanding of the emotional impact of their words on others. They may say unkind things because they are confused or angry. Talk to your child about bullying when they are calm. Explain to them what it means to bully someone, and how it affects other people. Then, should you see bullying behavior, you can label it, encouraging your child to stop and think about their words and actions. Reward and celebrate acts of kindness, and model these behaviors yourself.

When your child tells you they have been bullied, it is important to validate and allow them to express their feelings. Then, ask them to empathize with their bully. What could their bully have been feeling? By making the connection between actions and feelings, your child will have a deeper understanding of the emotional impact they can have on others.

As parents, we want to protect our children. You may be tempted to talk to your child’s bully or the bully’s parent. But in the long run, it is better to provide your child with the tools they need to resolve conflict themselves. By teaching your child to verbalize their feelings, you are helping them to communicate effectively, which will help them to address any bullying behavior themselves. And if there is a problem that needs adult intervention, your child will feel comfortable telling you, knowing that it is safe to express their feelings to you.