How can you stop bullying before it starts?

boy being bullied

Bullying – groan. Unfortunately, it’s a problem in every school and that means primary school. At this age, bullying is usually verbal and physical, but when children get older, it can be online or by text.

As a parent, when you’ve survived the pre-school years and your child has successfully started school, the thought of your baby getting picked on can be heartbreaking. So how can you stop bullying when it starts and what can you do to help your little monkey?

Teaching right and wrong starts at home

Kids tease each other, but there is a difference between teasing and being a mean little shit! At this age, boys like physical play and they enjoy practical jokes and teasing, but they need to know what is and isn’t acceptable.

I do not tolerate physical aggression. By that I mean punching, kicking, slapping, pushing and hurting each other in any way – EVER. My boys enjoy wrestling with each other on the trampoline and with Dad– but they know when to stop. The verbal stuff is much harder.

Name-calling between siblings is normal – in fact, my boys have nicknamed each other ‘penis butt butt’ and ‘bum bum fart fart’. It’s been driving me crazy! My 7-year-old sometimes goes too far, but his brother will punch him in the guts, or I tell him when to pack it in. I am confident they know the difference between fun and being mean.

Allow your boys to express pain or sadness

At dinnertime, I often ask my boys to tell me about anything that happened at school that day, and whether they felt happy or sad. I hope it helps them work out what they think and encourages them to openly talk to me.

New Zealand’s best-known parenting expert, Ian Grant, author of ‘Growing Great Boys’ says that boys may not naturally express their feelings as girls do, but home should be the place where they can share, without fear of rejection or ridicule.

When something is wrong be empathetic, listen and encourage your child to talk

The other day my 7-year-old said he felt sad and burst into tears. My 6-year-old responded by saying, “Oh no Mum, you shouldn’t have asked him because now he’s upset”. I said it’s ok to cry and feel sad about something. I asked him why he was sad. He said at lunchtime another boy was always ruining his game and pushing him.

He’s complained before about having no one to play with at lunchtime and I’ve always taken it with a pinch of salt. I’ve told him to walk away, or find another friend to play – but this time he couldn’t talk through his tears and I felt very sad for him.

He said it had been going on for weeks and he’d had enough. This boy had also started picking on his friend and he didn’t know what to do about it. I said that sounded horrible for him and his friend, let him have a good cry and gave him a big hug.

Help your child solve the problem

Explain to your child that they are right to feel hurt and upset and acknowledge that the behaviour is not ok. He struggled to talk, so I asked him to write on his whiteboard. I asked him if he would like me to talk to his teacher, so we agreed I would take a photo of his whiteboard and meet with his teacher.

Talk to their teacher

Every school has its own way of reporting, recording and responding to bullying. By law every NZ school has an obligation to watch out for your child’s safety. A good teacher will want to know if your child is being bulled.

I told his teacher how upset he was, showed the photo of his words on the whiteboard and asked for help. She was grateful I had told her and said she had strategies for dealing with the behaviour. She said that often it’s the first time children have experienced bullying and they don’t know how to deal with it.

His teacher talked to the group of children about what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable at school. She talked to me with my 7-year-old and said that if anything happened again he was to tell her or me. I’m aware that this probably will happen again, but my little monkey felt listened to, supported and for the meantime, the bullying has stopped. I will be regularly checking in with my little dude to make sure he’s ok.

Help your kids to talk to you and let’s stop the bullying as soon as it starts 👍😊 Thanks for reading this blog. Please share with others and like our Facebook page or follow Little Monkeys on Instagram.