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8 Simple Strategies to Bully Proof Your Kids

8 Simple Strategies to Bully Proof Your Kids

Bullying is an epidemic. No matter how well you raise your kids or where you live, there are cliques in every school and—depending on where they fit into the school hierarchy—your child can become the victim of bullying.

People have a natural tendency to crave power, and when grouped up they can do some very mean things. It’s not always black and white though. Whoever is bullying your child may not even realize they’re a bully; they could be playing pranks meant to be funny (and they are to them and their circle of friends) without stopping to think about the way the pranks are perceived by their victims. Our media-saturated society glorifies stunts like those pulled by the Jackass crew and a variety of web pranksters, and in the search for art kids can do some mean things to other kids.

As a parent, you’re the best guide your child has. If you don’t teach them how to deal with different people and social situations, they’ll learn on their own by either emulating what they see in the media or following the advice of those around them. Set the standard and bully proof your kids by getting involved in their lives and teaching them how to deal with complicated social situations. Here are eight simple strategies:

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1. Start Early

Talk to your kids about what happened to them during the day and how those things made them feel. This simple practice helps them understand their own feelings, building empathy for themselves and others. The earlier you establish open dialog with your kids, the more willing they are to open up to you later on, even if it’s to tell you things you don’t want to hear.

2. Teach Self-Defense

Getting in fights is unfortunately a normal part of schoolyard life. While it would be great if everyone learned to talk out their differences, it’s not always possible. The reality is that life is harsh, and everyone faces violence at some time. If you want your kid to walk with confidence, teach them how to defend themselves in case bullies become physical. There are martial arts dojos everywhere, and you can also find boxing and MMA gyms that will train children.

3. Build Mutual Trust

You have to be consistent with your child; you’re setting the standard for their perception of normal. If you regularly break promises to your kid (even little ones), they lose trust in you. You have to lay down the law sometimes, but when you’re a tyrant, your kid learns not to go to you. By the same measure, if you’re not open and honest about who you are and what you’ve been through, they may think you’re too square to understand.

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4. Show Compassion

You’re likely responsible for the way your child acts. Do you bully your kids, or do you involve them in family decisions and value their contributions? When someone wrongs you, how do you handle it? You set the example for your kid, so lead by example and show compassion in your own dealings. If your child sees you blow up at everyone who doesn’t do exactly what you want, they’ll see that as the way to respond. When you bully them, the bullying at school may end up feeling like it’s normal. Be the person you want your child to be; be the person they see you as.

5. Listen Carefully

Your kids may tell you that their stomach hurts, they don’t want to go to school or someone in their class is bugging them—these can all be signs of bullying. Make sure you’re truly involved in your child’s life (without violating their privacy), and listen to the verbal cues they give. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and scrutinize everything.

6. Be Their Ally

Always believe your children, but check things out for yourself. Be sure to get all the details before jumping to conclusions, but regardless of fault, always take your child’s side. There’s a good chance your child may be the bully. The difference is often difficult to tell, and you don’t want to add to the bullying on either side.

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7. Think Logically

When I was in school, everyone had a reputation or ran with a clique of some type. Decide where your child fits in that picture, and figure out a way to navigate through everything. If teachers are involved in “bullying” your child, there can be a huge issue with the school, your child, or the community. If you live in Utah, for example, and your child is gay, it may be in your best interest to move somewhere else.

8. Resolve As a Team

You’re an adult, and you’re the leader in the house. Involving yourself in your child’s problems can range from a pep talk to a side-by-side tag team, depending on the situation. There may be legal issues involved, and you never know what people will put on the internet these days. However you choose to resolve the issue, make it the responsibility of the entire family so your child doesn’t feel isolated at home after a long day of being bullied.

Bullying gets complicated, and there’s no one way to deal with it. Standing up to a bully looks great on TV, but in reality it can be a one-way ticket to Knockout-land (or something much worse). The bully may be much larger, or it could be a huge group of people. You don’t want to set your child up to be ganged up on.

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By acting responsibly yourself, maintaining open communication with your child, and working together, you’ll help bully proof your child, and with any luck, they’ll be strong enough to set the example for others around them.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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