Most of the kids I see for bullying have been hiding a secret. The secret is that they have been being bullied for a long time and they come to me because they can no longer take it. This makes me very sad to hear. As a guidance counselor in elementary and middle school I start out by teaching them to tell an adult if they are being bullied or hurt in any way.
This adult can be anyone they trust. Parents, teachers, school counselors, administrators, bus drivers, etc. fit into this category. I also teach kids that if they don’t get help from the trusted adult they talk to they need to keep on telling until someone helps them.
We need to teach our kids the difference in a “hurtful tattle” and a “helpful tattle”. A hurtful tattle is a “mean tattle” meant to get someone into trouble that really does not need to be in trouble. This tattle is a“bossy tattle” and a “none of your business tattle”. It takes a high sense of self-esteem to actually tattle. Some people take it overboard and become noisy.
A “helpful tattle” is a tattle that will help someone (even yourself). This tattle is meant to prevent something bad from happening to either you or someone else. For instance, if your child found out that their friend was being beaten by their father you would want them to tell you. We need to teach kids the difference of a “helpful tattle” and a “hurtful tattle”.
By the time most kids decide they can’t take the bullying, and come to see me, a lot of damage has taken place because of a bully. Parents, teachers, and all other educators need to teach kids how to tell if they are being hurt or threatened in any way.
This is also a good chance to practice the art of “telling” with your child. If your child comes to you and says, “She said my hair looks dumb!”, then this is a good time to practice their bullying prevention skills. But if your child comes to you and says, “He is going to beat me up after school today!”, then you need to get involved.
I like to tell kids that I am their “big support system” and I am there for them for the medium and large stuff. However, I can help them increase their self-esteem by teaching and practicing bullying prevention skills. Use the small teases to teach your child how to handle themselves. If you overreact then your child will do the same. This will not help them deal with anything, much less bullies, in the near and far future.
It’s time for parents to take an active part in their child’s education in the area of bullying prevention. By consistently practicing role playing and “what if..” situations children will be better prepared to deal with bullies throughout their life and their self-esteem will increase.
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