Just because summer is here doesn't mean that bullying on the playground ceases to exist for a couple of months. Bullying can happen in summer camps and summer programs. Summer is a time that families often have more quality time together. Why not take the opportunity to bully proof your children.
My friend Dr. Ganz Ferrance said that one of the frustrations express by many of the parents he works with are that they want to do something about bullying but don't know what that something is. Dr. Ganz suggests that parents should first define bullying for their children. Often children will ignore or even get used to the negative and hurtful behaviours of their peers because it hasn't been named. When children have a reference point for what defines good behaviour and what is considered bullying, they are more likely to act in a way that protects themselves or helps them stand up for others. when parents put words to feelings it allows the important conversations with your children to occur, these conversations will serve them now, and in the years to come.
After you define bulling, Dr. Ganz suggests you use dinner and drive time as the window of opportunity to have conversations with your children. These are low key times to ask your children questions, explore how their day went, and to get insight into any challenges they might be facing. This can also be a great time to teach assertiveness and healthy behaviours.
Recently Dr. Ganz and I were on CTV News talking about this very topic...bullying. I also suggested the importance of teaching your children a script, something like "Hey, that's not okay". These four words can often be enough to steer a bully away or have others stand up. My new book Toby the Pet Therapy Dog Says Be a Buddy Not a Bully provides tangible and practical tips for children and their parents to deal with bullying. Practising the script helps build confidence, and communication skills. It will help your child act appropriately in a crisis or threatening situation.
The book provides questions for parents, caregivers and educators to use in conversation with children, and it also provides activities that children can do to learn more about kindness and being a good friend.
Team Toby- PAWsitively improving lives by teaching kindness, acceptance and respect.