Ways to Increase Confidence and Decrease Vulnerability
1. Teach them to value their self-worth. Every child needs to know they don’t have to look, act, dress, learn, or be like everyone else to be worthy of respect. Affirm their talents, strengths, and competencies so they can always remember who they are at the core, regardless of what anyone else says or does.
2. Teach them that they never have to tolerate cruel behavior. Kids who are bullied sometimes believe they deserve it. They wonder if there’s something inherently wrong with them that causes the bullying. Teach your children that bullying is more about the person who bullies than it is about them. Under no circumstances should they ever allow another person to purposely humiliate, threaten, shun, or harm them. If that happens, it’s critical that they seek the well-deserved support of a caring adult.
3. Teach them that asking for help isn’t tattling. Too often kids avoid telling adults they’ve been bullied because they think it’s “snitching.” For whatever reason, there’s an unspoken taboo against “telling” among too many kids. Let them know they have the right to be emotionally and physically safe under all circumstances, and if someone violates that right, they have the right to ask for help. If the bullying continues they need to keep seeking support until it stops.
4. Teach them to avoid kids who are “trouble.” Sometimes kids put themselves at risk by seeking the approval or friendship of kids who mistreat them. Tell them, “If someone doesn’t like you, there’s someone else who does.” Having even one good friend can be enough.
5. Teach them how to stand tall, look someone in the eyes, and say, “Stop,” without whining, crying, or looking scared. Rehearse this with them so they can develop the ability to assertively stand up to someone who tries to bully them— even if they’re shaking inside.
6. Teach them how to walk away with pride. They don’t have to stand there and take it. Role play with them how to stand tall with head held high, and walk away from someone who’s trying to put them down. Walking away tall and proud is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it takes the wind out of the person who’s trying to gain power over you.
7. Keep the doors of communication open at all times, and take time to talk with them every day. That way, they’ll be more likely to come to you if someone’s bullying them, rather than withdrawing in shame and silence.
Naomi Drew is recognized around the world for her work in conflict resolution, peacemaking, and anti-bullying. She is the award-winning author of seven widely-used books, including the critically acclaimed, No Kidding About Bullying. Visit her Web site at www.LearningPeace.com. You can contact Ms. Drew at Naomi@LearningPeace.com.
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