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How can parents help their children fight back, cope with, and overcome the reality of 'bullying behavior?'

There are helpful tips and strategies parents and children can employ to help them feel empowered, instead of powerless, when dealing with bullying behavior or to help a child feel 'bullyproof.' The most important effective strategy for parents is teaching children how to cope with the reality of the world they are in. Talking with your child daily 'checking in' to see how they're doing and teaching them how to talk about their thoughts and feelings is the first step in helping children feel safe and secure. I firmly believe the best gift we can give our children is the ability to cope.

The old saying, 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,' is not always true so equipping children with effective coping strategies that include teaching them how to 'speak up' and advocate for themselves goes a long way in maintaining their personal power when 'bullying behavior' is working to make your child feel powerless. Keep the following in mind when talking about the subject of dealing with 'bullying behavior' along with ways to prevent or overcome 'bullying behavior:'

1) Teach your child how to identify words to express feelings, understand the cause of their feelings, and employ strategies to overcome 'intense emotions' like anger, frustration, sadness, depression, etc.

2) Be an 'active listener' allowing your child time and opportunity to talk with you about emotions, thoughts, and circumstances without reacting to develop a 'safe place' that invites them to discuss more challenging things later

3) Teach your child to journal, problem solve, and strategically plan (decision making strategies) how to solve challenging circumstances by asking for help from trusted adults (teachers, counselors, administrators, family members, etc.)

4) Hold the school community accountable by keeping in touch when made aware of 'bullying behavior' to ensure your child feels and sees their concerns are being advocated for and supported

5) Identify any local community organizations and seek professional help, including the police, that may be able to provide support for your family when 'bullying behavior' occurs within the community

6) Engage your child in activities that build confidence or teaches them self-defense techniques so they feel more empowered and confident when facing 'bullying behavior' along with learning how to speak firmly and confidently to tell the 'bully' to stop

7) Remind your child repeated behaviors of teasing, name-calling, threats, forcibly taking personal possessions, uninvited physical contact, two or more students going out of their way to consistently create an uncomfortable or threatening school climate should not be ignored or tolerated

8) Monitor your child's social media use and remind them to unfollow, report, and ignore any type of posting or commenting that is inappropriate, inciting, or demeaning

9) use the internet, library, and other outlets to become aware of the 4 common types of bullying (verbal, physical, cyber, and physical) and the suggestions on how to best handle those circumstances

10) Remember an informed child is an empowered child and have age appropriate dialogue with your child about the real world challenges they face as they transition into adulthood so they can be equipped with as much information, resource, and coping skills to fight back against what threatens to make them feel powerless.

Check out this interview with Good Morning Washington host Eileen Whelan on bullying and give your child the gift to cope

Cortland Jones is an educator in Prince George's County Public Schools and has been working with youth since age 14 as a summer camp counselor. 10 years of his 26 year career was spent as a Peer Mediation Coordinator on the elementary, middle, and high school level training youth to talk out their conflicts with their peers as well as teaching youth how to manage and deal with conflict, anger, and the reality of life's challenges as they transitioned into adulthood. Cortland currently teaches writing enrichment that includes lessons on self-awareness, goal setting, character education, career college planning, and literacy.

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