4 Traits that Help Kids Cope with Bullying

Prevent bullying by instilling these characteristics

middle school girl at locker with others in back

When it comes to coping with bullying, there is no denying that some kids not only handle it better, but also recover faster. But what is it that sets them apart from their peers? According to researchers, there are four protective factors that not only help kids avoid school bullying but also allow them to cope with bullying in a healthier way. These characteristics include having a solid self-esteem, being assertive, possessing strong social skills, and having a few healthy friendships.

When kids have these attributes, they are not only less likely to be targeted by bullies but also are better equipped to deal with bullying if it does occur. What’s more, they will overcome bullying incidents more quickly than those children who do not have these protective factors. Here are some tips for instilling these four important qualities in your children.

Teach Assertiveness

Many kids are not naturally assertive. Instead, they need to learn that it’s perfectly acceptable to stand up for their rights especially when it comes to bullying or other offensive behavior. Start by explaining the difference between being aggressive and being assertive. Explain that aggressive people try to force other people to do what they want. Meanwhile, assertive people stand up for their rights and are comfortable defending themselves or others against unfairness.

What's more, be sure they know that assertive people calmly state their opinion using a respectful voice and respectful language. While using a strong and confident voice is important, there is no need to yell. Assertive people also respect the needs and wishes of other people.

Another way to empower your children to be more assertive is to allow them the freedom to make choices. Assure your child that they can say no to any request that makes them uncomfortable. For example, if they don’t want to go shopping after school because they have a lot of homework, they need to know that they can say "maybe next time." Or, if they don’t want to go to a party, they should have the freedom to say "no thank you."

Let your kids know that being assertive doesn't mean they can’t ask others for help.

When it comes to bullying everyone needs a little assistance. Also assure your child that asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, it shows they are being wise in addressing a difficult issue.

Facilitate Friendships

Friendships are important for kids, especially when it comes to bullying. Sometimes bullies target kids who lack social connections. But if your children have at least one good friend, they are less likely to be bullied. And, if they are bullied, a friend is more likely to intervene on their behalf than another bystander.

Friends are also crucial at helping children cope with bullying if it does occur. Not only can they encourage your child, but they also help them process the bullying by being there to talk and to listen. As a parent, you should do what you can to help your child develop new friendships and strengthen their existing friendships. For example, allow your children to invite friends over to study or attend a function together. And encourage them to reach out to kids they would like to be friends with.

Kids that are having trouble making friends should be encouraged to get involved in activities they enjoy. Children are more likely to become friends with people that share common interests. Remember, healthy friendships guard against bullying.

Friendships also have a positive impact on your child’s health and academics too. Studies imply that academic achievement is clearly related to a child’s social interactions and friendships. So do what you can to help your child develop friends. But don’t push popularity. It sends the wrong message and may lead your child to make unhealthy choices. Instead, focus on quality friendships.

Impart Self–Esteem

One of the best things you can do to prevent bullying in your child’s life is to impart self-esteem. Kids with a healthy self-esteem, are not only more confident, but also are better equipped to deal with bullying if it does occur.

Additionally, having a healthy self-esteem may cause some bullies to think twice before targeting someone who is confident.

Stong self-esteem also may help your children have the confidence to say no to peer pressure especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

To foster a healthy self-esteem in your kids, be sure you show them unconditional love. By letting them know that you love them no matter what, they will be more likely to accept failure without feeling like a failure. Be sure you also help your children identify their strengths and their weaknesses. Then, give them ideas on how to build on their strengths and improve on their weaknesses.

Another way to boost self-esteem is to get them involved in activities that increase their confidence. For example, if your child is a good runner, encourage him to join a running club or go out for the track team. Meanwhile, if your child is musically inclined enroll him or her in a music class.

Enhance Social Skills

Begin by working on your child’s ability to initiate and sustain a conversation. When children can hold a conversation, they will be successful in their interpersonal relationships. Start by encouraging your child to walk up to others and say "hello." While this can seem scary and daunting, it is a vital skill for your child to learn. It may seem hard at first, but with practice it will get easier.

After your child is comfortable simply saying "hello" to others, begin teaching him how to sustain a conversation.

The easiest way to keep a conversation going is to ask questions.

This skill requires your child to be observant and curious about others so that they know what to ask.

For example, if your child has math with a potential friend he could ask: "How do you think you did on the test?" Or, if there is a new person at school, he might ask: "What do you think of our school so far?" It’s also a good idea to role-play different situations like what to do at a school dance or how to act at a friend’s house. Stress the importance of being polite, using manners and being respectful.

Teaching your child social skills is not just important for bullying prevention. Studies have linked social skills with better academic achievement, stronger friendships and higher self-esteem. It also can impact their careers and their relationships, as they become adults.

Over time, if you work on your children’s social and friendship-making skills along with teaching assertiveness and instilling self-esteem, they will feel more confident in dealing with difficult situations, including bullying.

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