“Looks like we’re all set for school,” I told my soon-to- be-kindergartener. “Momma, I am so excited to go to school,” she told me that night as she climbed into bed. We read our usual nighttime story and I turned out the light.
Later that night, I woke up in a state of panic. Was she really ready for school? I sat up, turned on the light, and took a deep breath. I grabbed the pen and paper that I always have beside my bed and began making a list. Well, she seems to have what she needs, but something was still not quite right.
What if she didn’t make friends? What if the mean kid takes away all of her crayons? What if no one wants to play with her at recess? Will she know what to do? To be honest, I wasn’t really sure.
Does this scenario seem familiar to anyone? Your kids face so many challenges when they go off to school, and you’re not there to help them. You want to protect them from the hurt and embarrassment of being bullied, but how do you do that when you’re not with them all the time?
So…how do you prepare your kids to have a bullyproof back to school experience?
While you can’t always protect them from potential bullying, there are steps you can take to “bullyproof” your child.
1. Make sure your kids have more than one circle of friends.
This helps them to understand different personalities, backgrounds, and social norms.
2. Get to know your kids’ friends.
Encourage them to invite their friends to your house. Arrange play dates, study sessions, and hangouts.
3. Teach them to stand up to peer pressure.
Remind them that they don’t always have to agree with their friends or say “yes” to things they don’t feel comfortable with.
4. Encourage your kid to include others.
Encourage them to invite the kid who sits alone to eat lunch with them. Teach them to include everyone in their games, projects, etc.
5. Encourage your kids to tell you how they are feeling.
Being able to express what they feel can help kids to empathize with the feelings of others.
6. Model the behaviors that you want to see in your children.
Follow your own advice and model how you want your kids to treat others.
7. Volunteer at school.
Get to know your child’s teacher, classmates, and friends. By establishing a relationship with the teacher, you’ll find it easier to communicate should any problems come up during the school year.
The ultimate goal is to help your kids seem less appealing to bullies, to help them stand up to bullies, and to avoid situations where they might alone with bullies. Following these tips will ensure that your child is surrounded by allies with a strong support system.