In the last year or so, there has been a lot of media attention on a serious problem with kids—bullying. Many children have committed suicide. Others have gone into deep depression. On an adult level, we’ve seen deaths and injuries of young women and women who have had to experience hazing to be accepted. Several states have passed legislation against bullying at school. The first place to stop this practice is at home. It is the responsibility of the parents to create the right atmosphere. Here are some suggestions.
You need to teach your child(ren) not to be mean. That means that older children in the family should not bully, tease, or torment their younger siblings. That means no hitting and no making fun of them. That means making sure that your child(ren) is not a member of a clique at school or elsewhere which does any of these acts as well.
You can ask her or him about their school and play groups. You can watch their language to see what they’re calling each other and say that that’s not acceptable. You can set an example not just of tolerance towards others but a welcoming of differences.
You can work with other parents to nip mean behavior in the bud and set positive examples.
If you need more help, bring your child(ren) to a therapist to help you. It’s your responsibility: you don’t want to be the parent of a child who is mean or is a victim of such a child. If you see your child setting fires or doing self harm or not eating or eating too much or having body problems or not going to school or crying a lot, these are warning signs that something dangerous is happening with her or him. Again, bring your child to a therapist. Don’t wait for a disaster to happen!