Prevent Your Child from Becoming A Bully

Our relationship with our child will later on affect how he relates with other people. If we are harsh with our words, too strict, rough in our manner of disciplining, spoiling to the point of always giving in to their demands, chances are, our child would think that this is the right way of dealing with others as well.

These simple yet meaningful ways to nourish and nurture our relationship with our child are some ways by which we can prevent him from "bullying":    

1.    Speak positive words of affirmation
Every good deed our child does – no matter how simple – deserves to be praised.  It will be even more meaningful if we refer to him or her personally by mentioning his or her name.  For instance, “very good, Sophia”“thank you for helping mummy, Mico”…  Affirmation is one of the best ways to boost our child’s emotional confidence and feel proud of the good things they do.
2.    Resort to firm, but loving manner of discipline
If possible, let us avoid raising our voice, using harsh words, being rough and physical in our manner of disciplining our children.  Different parents may have different ways of discipline but no matter what, we should always be conscious in making our children understand that they are being disciplined because they are loved.  How we are to discipline them should depend on the gravity of their offense.  Make sure to explain to them after why they are being reprimanded for such and the possible consequences of their actions.  Be conscious as well of scolding them or disciplining them in front of other children so as not to put them on the spot and be shamed in front of their friends.

3.    Offer gentle touch of love
A constant loving gesture such as a hug, a tap on the shoulder, a pat on the back, stroking the hair or touching their cheek will never fail to offer a warm assurance of love from the parents.  This will make them conscious as well of being too physical and rough to the point of hurting others. 

4.    Teach them to share and be generous
Start with the concept of sharing their toys.  Most kids especially toddlers have the tendency to be possessive of their toys or anything they know they own.  They are also in that stage where they would want to get other kids’ toys but not willing to share their own.  What we can do is to make affirm them whenever they do decide to share.  Make them feel good about giving.  For instance, whenever my son would attend birthday parties, I make sure that he is the one who will hand-over the gift to the celebrant. This will help him appreciate the concept of giving. 

5.    Encourage your child to make friends
Set up play dates for your child with kids their age.  Get him used to relating and playing with them until he connects with them and learns to value their company rather than a threat or a competition.  Let us support them in making friends and bonding with others. 

6.    Explain to them the difference between what is good and what is bad
Let us be mindful of our child’s surroundings and influence from media to the kind of friends he has.  If there are things around him which we feel need to be corrected, make him understand what is good and if it’s a bad thing.  Plus, let us patiently explain to them the consequences of doing good versus doing a bad thing.  We can start with the shows he watches – like, for instance, why the hero often ends up defeating the villain. 

7.    Be generous in giving our child time and attention
No matter how stressed, tired and busy we may be, our children need our undivided time and attention.  Set a specific day within the week or time within the day to devote to them.  More often than not, children who lack attention would resort to doing things which would get their parents’ attention such as bullying. 

8.    Avoid spoiling our children
As much as possible, let us avoid giving in always to the demands of our children.  As difficult as it may be to say NO, we must be aware that we are helping them become a better person.  Buying toys for instance should, as much as possible to be limited to either giving to celebrate and occasion or giving as a reward for something good.  This way, we teach them to value the things they get in life and that they cannot get anything and everything they want in an instant.

But of course, the most important thing of all is LOVE.  There’s nothing more powerful than the love of the parents for their children.  Be a loving presence to them.  If our children are so full of love… they will eventually have so much love to give others as well.

 *Published in Mother, Baby and Child Magazine, November 2011 issue