Earlier this month, I posted a blog for parents titled Important New Year's Resolutions for Parents of Teens. In this article, I briefly discussed topics every parent should be discussing with their teens. I covered bullying, sexting and community involvement. I feel it is important to broaden the discussion of each of these topics. So today, I would like to offer some action steps parents can take to help prevent bullying. Children and teens who have supportive families, strong friendships, healthy boundaries and good communication skills are less likely to become bullies and more likely to stand up against bullying. Below you will see a few of my thoughts on each of these topics.
- Provide a good example. Kids (even teens) model their behavior after that of their family. As a result, it is important to be conscious of what you say and how you treat people. This being said, no parent is perfect! If you slip up, use it as a teaching moment to explain your mistake and help your child learn something from your experience.
- Know your child’s friends. As children enter their teen years, friends begin to play an increasingly significant role in their opinions and behavior. Encourage your child to spend time with peers who have similar interests and ideals. Insist on getting to know the other children’s parents. It is alright (and advisable) to limit time spent with others who exhibit troublesome behavior. It is also important to monitor your child’s social media interactions with peers.
- Teach your children boundaries. According to Parent Further, “Parents need to set clear boundaries for behavior and should have high expectations in terms of respect for self, others, and property.” By setting and enforcing a clear set of expectations for your child, you are teaching him or her to live and act within appropriate parameters. Not only does this help foster a sense of self-worth in young people, it also helps them develop respect for others and for the norms and laws of society. Creating and adhering to a set of household rules for chores and behavior is a good place to start.
- Talk to your child. Consistent, safe communication between parents and children is crucial to preventing bullying. Set aside time every day to talk to each of your children. Ask questions and really listen. This builds a sense of trust between parent and child and will allow children to more openly talk about what is going on in their world. Eating dinner together is a great way to open up the lines of communication. Can’t do dinner? Try setting a routine at breakfast or bedtime depending on the needs of your family.
Finally, check out my 2012 blog article on helping kids know what to do if they are bullied or witness someone else being bullied. Click here to read more.
Image from Flickr. Some rights reserved by Eddie~S.