Now that we are at the end of National Bullying Prevention Month, we’d like to remind you that it’s just as important to address the issue throughout the rest of the year as it is during October. From the author of LittleGirls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in the Early Grades, we bring you some tips for addressing bullying with your child, as well as eBooks to help get the conversation started.
Noodles: I Hate Bullies has a short, simple, and clear message: bullying feels bad, and when it happens there are things you can do to stand up for yourself and remove yourself from the situation.
Tip for parents: While reading the story with your child, ask how the small dog feels about how the bigger dog is treating him. See if your child can notice what the small dog does to take care of himself and remove himself from the situation. Young children often feel little and powerless, like the small dog, and stories such as this can help them realize that regardless of their size, they can make powerful choices to keep themselves safe and stand up for themselves in appropriate ways.
Since children this age are very concrete thinkers, they may not automatically apply the lessons from the book to their own life. To help your child apply problem solving more directly to her own life, ask what she can do if she has a friend who is treating her the way the big dog treated the little dog. Together, come up with tangible ideas, such as getting a buddy (can your child name one of her own?) or telling a teacher (which one would she trust?). It is also important to emphasize the ways the dog was taking care of himself, by eating inside and staying away from the bigger dog—doing what felt strong and brave but still safe. See what ideas your child has for how she could trust her intuition—that little feeling inside that tells her if something isn’t right—to remove herself from a situation (where would she go?).
The Worst Best Friend relates a common situation in growing friendships—when one friend wants to pull away and become friends with someone new—and the effect it can have on the other, especially if the new friend is mean, or worse, a bully.
Tip for parents: After your child has read the book (or you read it with him), ask him what made Conrad the worst best friend. Talk about how some bully behaviors are obvious. See if together you can list some of the more obvious bully behaviors from the book. Point out that some bully behaviors are less obvious and see if the two of you can find ways that Conrad, Mike, and/or Victor may have engaged in less obvious bully behaviors. Can a person act like a bully at times and still be a friend, or apologize and reconnect as friends?
Talk to your child about what makes a good friend. Watch one of your child’s favorite TV shows with him. Start a conversation about what you notice about how the characters treat each other. What good friend things do they do? What unkind things do they do? See if you can turn off the volume and still know how a person is being treated, or feels about how he is being treated, just by how he carries himself. See if you both can come up with a list of the qualities your child would like in a friend or a best friend, along with qualities of a “not-friend.”
Author Bio: Michelle Anthony is an expert in developmental psychology and a mother of three, and also the author of LittleGirls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in the Early Grades. www.LittleGirlsCanBeMean.com
book.box (bukboks) n. A cardboard receptacle, typically rectangular in shape
with lid, containing words, pictures, ideas and dreams, often
accompanied by excitement, anticipation and the love of reading.