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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 May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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