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.'