Bullying and Beyond: Raising Safe Kids

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Recently I attended a parenting talk by Joel Haber, author of Bullyproofing Your Child For Life. Most parenting seminars that I attend are not very well attended, but this one was packed. Why? “Bullying” and “Cyberbullying” have become the trigger words for fear in parents. We recognize that we have limits in our ability to protect our children, and it seems that these are the catch-phrases for the danger that lurks beyond.

Bullying and cyberbullying are not that different from any of the other dangers that our children will face. The good news is that there are ways that we can protect our children or at least prepare them to face those dangers.

Social language one of the most important things that we can teach our children. By social language, I mean all of the language and communication that they face in social situations. This can range from being polite to what to say when he or she is offered illegal drugs. Social language includes words, tone, and body language.

I believe wholeheartedly that social language is the basis for academic and social success, I am confident that social language can be taught effectively, and I know that our children would be better off if it was. Social capital is the currency that students live for. Actually, it is the currency that we all live for. We are human and we want to be liked. We don’t want to lose social standing. Kids will not make smart decisions when it risks losing social standing, and, in many cases, neither will most adults. Kids need to be prepared with specific strategies to help them face these situations.

So how can you prepare your child? First off, directly teach communication. Help them to communicate because, in most cases, they will not know what to say. We need to literally feed kids the words they need. 

Secondly, prepare your kids with what I refer to as the four Ss: self (confidence), situation, support, and strategies. These four Ss provide the structure for communication with your children. Prepare your children by speaking directly to them about specific situations and specific strategies that they can take to handle them. They need to know that they have your support and that you are willing to take the heat so that they will not lose status.

 

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