In any bully situation, there are three possible groups: the bullies, the victims, and the bystanders. How can we help our children prepare to face a bullying situation as either the potential victim or a bystander who has the ability to stop the bullying or to encourage it? Here are some ideas for parents:
- Talk with children a lot. Talk about bullying in general and specifically.
- Watch for any physical signs of distress. Ask questions. If something is bothering your child, don’t give up figuring out what is wrong.
- Use Bible stories to find similar situations in which God showed up to help. Possible stories include David vs. Goliath, Gideon, Queen Esther, Peter, Paul (himself a bully before meeting Jesus), the Good Samaritan (power of a bystander).
- Pray about bullying. Don’t underestimate the power God has to change a situation. Help your child plug into God’s resources.
- Practice strategies to avoid being a victim. Don’t be alone; buddies make it harder for a bully to target you. Role play how to defuse a bully. Don’t let a child perceive himself/herself as a victim without any power—that damaging kind of thinking could last a lifetime.
- Role play how to help if your child is a bystander.
- Talk to adults such as teachers and coaches. Often bullying occurs just out of vision and earshot of adults. If they are aware of what to monitor, they have more of an opportunity to address bullying head on.
Bullying is a real issue for all of us. Don’t let children figure out what to do on their own—give them resources to cope with and to conquer the bullies in their world.
Some bullying resources:
(This information is offered as a service to Kids Corner listeners and should not be considered am endorsement by Kids Corner.)
“Bully-Proofing Your Kids,” Christianity Today, 2006
Kids Corner Episode: 188-What A Friend, 232-Closer Than A Brother.