Break the bullying cycle by creating a ‘kindness culture’
This National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence (18 March), Triple P Positive Parenting experts are encouraging families to flex their kindness muscles in line with this year’s theme of building a ‘kindness culture’ so children and young people can live a life of belonging, respect, and inclusion.
Triple P International, Country Director, Carol Markie-Dadds, said building your child’s emotional and social development is key to creating this positive culture and beating the bullying cycle.
“Over half (53%) of parents consider bullying and cyberbullying to be a major health concern for their children, so it’s important that parents are given the right support to develop their children’s pro-social behaviours to prevent and respond to bullying behaviours,” Ms Markie-Dadds said.
“Children aren’t born with emotional and social skills, but the great news is that you can help your child to practise and build these important life skills by encouraging them to:
- Think about other people’s feelings and how their behaviour may impact the other person.
- Look at and listen when a friend or another person is talking.
- Take turns in games and activities and asking what other children would like to do (not assuming they want to follow).
- Be supportive or by being friendly and including others.
- Be a positive and healthy digital citizen.
- Stay calm under pressure and solve problems in helpful ways.
“Children may encounter bullying in different ways – they may experience it themselves, be involved, or see it happening, and sometimes a combination,” she said.
“If your child is experiencing bullying, it’s important not to ignore what they’re telling you - create a positive, safe environment by calmly listening and encouraging them to describe exactly what has happened.
“Try to put the emphasis on strength-building, rather than the challenges of the situation, by thinking about things like ‘how can I deal with the problem, what can I learn from this difficult situation, and how might that help me in the future?’
“Children shouldn’t be left to deal with bullying on their own. When adults are aware of what is happening, they can watch more closely, act quickly, and help children learn new skills to prevent and respond to bullying,” she said.
“Often the best strategy for parents involves teaching your child coping skills, which builds their resilience and confidence, and helps them to respond assertively when the bullying occurs. Children who do the bullying can benefit from learning how to get along with others and to solve problems without harming others.
“Parents are in the ideal position to act as a role-model for their children, so it’s important for parents to be aware of their own behaviour, and how they treat and speak about others, especially when tired or frustrated,” Ms Markie-Dadds said.
Online parenting programs are now available 24/7 across Australia and include Fear-Less Triple P Online, Triple P Online, and Teen Triple P Online, plus a guide to parenting during COVID-19. Access to these programs is free in some regions – for more information, visit www.triplep-parenting.net.au
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 The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll (2021). Top 10 child health problems: What Australian Parents think, Poll Number 20. The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria. NCHP20-Poll-report-A4_FA.pdf (rchpoll.org.au), accessed 10/03/22.