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Family Conversations About Bullying

Parents should prepare their children for dealing with social situations by having ongoing conversations with them about relationships.

Children and teenagers are more likely to talk about difficult issues like bullying and friendship challenges if these topics, and other difficult topics, have been comfortably discussed before. Your child will be confident that you know something about this issue and that you can be a resource for them.

How to engage children

Talk frequently
Ongoing conversations about friendship, family relationships, kindness, bullying, solving conflicts, decision-making, sexuality and many other issues should be initiated long before problems begin.
Children are much more likely to talk openly with parents, to turn to them when they are struggling with something in their life, if they have prior experience and confidence that the parent can help them.

Provide your child with tools for coping with life

  • Help your child with social relationship skills early in life.
  • Listen to your child.
  • Don't take over and try to fix it.

Bullying is a common experience that your child is likely to encounter in their educational years. Here is how to be prepared:

  • Establish a routine time of day or week with your child or children where you have open discussions about life.
  • At dinner, discuss each family member's day.
  • Use time in the car together to engage in meaningful discussions about how your children see the world.
  • Use local, national or world news stories about relationships, kindness, bullying, conflict, problem solving, etc. to provide opportunities for discussion.

How to ask questions of your child

Talking with children really involves listening to them. Ask children questions that they are able to answer.

  • How do you know if someone is your friend? 
  • What do they do to show friendship? 
  • How do you know if someone is not a friend to you? 
  • What do they do to show they are not friends with you? 
  • Can a friend sometimes be mean? 
  • Can you be mean sometimes? 
  • What can you do if a friend is mean to you or to others? 
  • What if that friend does not listen to you? 
  • What do you do if someone tells you that you are acting mean? 
  • What can you do to show kindness to another person?
  • What does kindness look like? 
  • Can you think of times when people you know have shown kindness? 
  • What are examples of this? 
  • How do you think that makes other feel? 
  • How does it make you feel with others are kind to you?

Use stories to teach the concepts you want your child to learn.
Children like stories where they are able to try to figure things out on their own. Children do not always respond to discussion directly about themselves. Ask about problems in the context of a story. For example:

  • Two kids are playing together and each wants to do something different. What are some ways that they can still play together? 
  • Two kids are playing together and one of them accidentally bumps into the other, causing the other to fall. The fall hurts, but nothing is broken. How should they two kids work this out? 
  • Two kids are playing and one child gets mad and quits the game because he is losing. Later, he feels bad about quitting. What should he do? 
  • One child feels bad for hurting the other child's feelings. She says she is sorry and offers to play again. What can the other child do?

Children may not always have the ability to understand complex topics such as war or economics. However, they need some way of understanding events in their world and how these events affect them.

  • Conflict in the world 
  • When people disagree 
  • When people want different things
  • How people work things out 
  • How to respond to people who are mean 
  • How to respond to questions about violence in the world

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