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How to "Bully-Proof" Kids - including against the power of Big Pharma

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to "Bully-Proof" Kids

By Gariane Phillips Gunter, M.D. 

Do you think October's national anti-bullying campaign was successful in stopping bullies? The Washington Post recently blogged about our country having a hard time defining bullying among kids. So, what can we, as parents, do to protect our children and teens? Here are some tips for "bully-proofing" your kids:

Distinguish between events and feelings - It is important to teach your children the difference in their interpretations of life situations. This helps kids learn to understand and relate to the feelings of others. They will be able to determine if someone is treating them appropriately - or if they are, in fact, being bullied.

Develop a sense of self - Another great way to bully-proof your child is to help them develop a sense of self. Encourage them to learn about and understand who they "are" because children who struggle to identify self-awareness or constantly strive to be their "hero" are never going to be able to live up to those expectations. This can be detrimental for their self-esteem - making them a direct target for bullying. Kids with low self-esteem are less likely to stick up for who they are which makes them prime targets for those looking to pick on someone (bullies often bully due to their own low self-esteem).
Monitor their online lives - Parents or caregivers should have access to online accounts and cell phones to ensure their teens' safety over the Internet. Cyberbullying continues to be a nationwide epidemic.  

Positive activities - It is also important to encourage your kids to explore activities that make them feel good about themselves. Find something that they are really good at because it will help increase their overall self-esteem and feeling of self-worth. Encouraging courageous behavior is another great way to guide children. You can teach them to stand up for themselves and for their peers and other friends. When groups of kids or teens stand together to put an end to a bullying situation, the bully is more likely to back off and won't mess with your child again.

Following these tips when your kids are young is the best way to show them how to establish early on that they will not tolerate bullying. 

Sources: http://www.makebeatsnotbeatdowns.org/, http://www.olweus.org/

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