What parents can do to prevent their child from being involved in bullying at school?
Although one cannot realistically 'bully-proof' a child one can certainly reduce the likelihood of a child being bullied or bullying others at school. Here are ten suggestions - expanded in my book, with research evidence.
From the earliest days of child's life do what you can to ensure he or she feels securely attached to a care-giver. Insecurity and severe anxiety during infancy can affect the capacity of a child to relate confidently to peers at school in later years.
Be cautious about the choice and use of childcare centres. Overuse at too early an age of sub-standard centres can be psychological harmful to some children and affect their ability later on to relate to other children at school.
Practice an authoritative and supportive style of parenting, recognizing that as the child grows older he or she will require more opportunities to act independently.
Avoid an authoritarian, cold, over-controlling way of relating to your child. It can result in children behaving aggressively towards their peers at school.
Don't act as a bully yourself. Your child may copy you.
Don't be over-permissive either. Children need to know where there are boundaries to what they may do.
Don't be over-protective, limiting too much the experiences your child can learn from. Overprotection can lead to a child being bullied.
Acknowledge the positive things your child does. This will make it easier for the child to be self-accepting, more resilient and less affected by any bullying.
Promote empathic concern for others through your own behaviour. This can help children to be more accepting of others - and more inclined to cooperate and less inclined to bully.
Teach (and practice) the golden rule: 'Do unto others as you would they do unto you.'