The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Stop bullying your children

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stop bullying your children

We all do it - we yell at them when we're tired, we order tem around, we tell them what's in their best interest, and we expect them to follow us around like little serfs.  If you observed this behavior on the playground, you'd likely haul the child into the principal's office and accuse him of bullying the other kids.  Is it any wonder, then, that bullying has become epidemic around the world?  Instead of helping children to stop bullying, perhaps we should educate the parents on how to stop bullying their kids.  When children have positive role models that don't bully them, they will be less likely to bully others. 

Families where discipline is inconsistent and where there is little warmth and adult attention are more likely to raise children who bully. The children in those families are looking for positive attention for negative behavior.  Conversely, families where discipline is harsh and unwarranted, are also more likely to raise children who bully. That's the role model scenario - a child who is physically or emotionally abused knows no other way to get what he wants from his peers than to use the same behavior as his parents. 

Hmmm... there must be a happy medium between inconcistent and harsh discipline, right?  There is - it's called democratic parenting.  Consistent, fair discipline teaches self-control and responsibility. Warmth and time spent together teach connection and empathy. 

Yes, I know it's difficult at the end of your own difficult day to deal with quarreling kids, but you must adjust your mind set from yelling at them to stop fighting to asking them to sit down and calmly discuss their differences.  Yep, I know that's not always going to work, either.  However, when the children see that you calmly react to their problem, they'll be more likely to calmly react in the future and on the playground with their peers. 

Do you use sarcasm?  (I'm going to start buying you baby clothes because that's how you're behaving.) This teaches kids that verbal bullying is acceptable.

Do you call your kids names? (Don't be so stupid!)  This is another example they can follow for verbal bullying.

Do you slap or spank your children?  This sets them up to accept physical bullying.

Do you get even with your kids? (Fine, if you're going to be like that, then I won't ....) This shows them that retaliation is an effective means to gain cooperation.

The bottom line is that your own bullying, whethere with your kids, their coach, or their teacher, will provide a negative role model for them.  So, when your child's principal calls and says your child has been bullying another student, don't look at the child's behavior, look at your own! And then change your parenting style to be more supportive, understanding, and accepting of your child's inevitable mistakes.  Spend quality time with them so they know they are wanted and needed by the persons who matter the most to them.  Show them how a non-bullying person reacts to a disagreement.  You'll be glad you did when they are adults!

Happy parenting!

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