Today we hosted a Bullying Prevention Seminar for a group of Girl Scout Troops. I love teaching these seminars because it gives kids practical tips they can use right now to help end bullying behavior in their schools. The challenge, however, is how do you remember and apply everything you just learned in the two hour seminar.
For today’s seminar I compiled a list of tips and ideas that parents can talk about with their kids (since it was a seminar for girl scouts, I wanted it to be specifically applicable to girl’s, but I think the tips would work for everyone), and I thought that it might be helpful for others, so I’m sharing it here, too!
Tips to Be a Good Friend and Help Prevent and Stop Bullying
Adapted from Stand Up to Bullying by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick and Girl’s Handbook to Friendship by Fiona Foden
Parents and teachers need to help support kids who are bullied and make it clear to kids who engage in bullying behavior that it is unacceptable and needs to stop. But, kids are the best equipped to intervene on other’s behalf. They can interrupt patterns of bullying, include others who may be left out and report bullying to adults.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated
Before you join in on any teasing or name calling, stop and think – how would I feel if someone said this to or about me? If you think it might hurt your feelings, chances are – it’s hurting them, and you should stop. On the other hand, think about how you would feel if someone was teasing you and another friend came and stood up for/with you. Wouldn’t that be great? You can be that friend!
- Say nice things to others
You may not feel confident enough (yet!) to stand up and say something when you see bullying or teasing happening. But you can send a supportive message or note to them later to let them know you think the bullying is wrong. You can also report the bullying to an adult or support the person who was teased in speaking up for themselves or getting help from an adult.
- Wipe the slate clean
If you see mean things written about someone on a wall at school – tell a teacher right away, so it can get cleaned up! It may be tempting to write something back or retaliate, but that would just be bullying back. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
- Don’t pass the trash
If you hear a rumor about someone – don’t spread it. Often rumors are made up, or exaggerated to make them more interesting. If a friend tells you a secret or something personal, you should keep it to yourself. Remember the golden rule – how would you feel if someone said those things about you? If you hear other people gossiping you could say, “That might really hurt their feelings, you should stop saying it.”
- Include others
Not everyone has to be your best friend, but at school and anywhere you go it is kind and respectful to notice if a kid is being left out of a game, conversation, or seat at the lunch table. If someone is new in school or sitting by themselves, for example, you can invite them to sit with you at lunch. If they seem left out of a conversation, you can ask them a question to bring them in. Some people like having some time to themselves, but others are too shy to ask to join in, or may be afraid that people won’t like them. You can help!
- If you make a mistake, admit it and apologize.
Lots of friends tease and joke with each other. It can be fun to laugh at our mistakes or silly actions. But sometimes, even you or your friends can get carried away and hurt someone’s feelings. If you realize you made a mistake, sometimes you may want to hide it or pretend it didn’t happen. The best thing you can do is be honest with the person. If you were teased by your friends you can let them know by saying something like, “Hey, I know that you were just trying to have fun, but some of the things you said really hurt my feelings.” Or if you were teasing a friend you could say, “Hey, we were having fun and being silly, but I realized that you probably felt like we were laughing at you instead of with you. I’m sorry and I won’t do that again.” Good friends admit their mistakes and try to learn and grow from them.
- Celebrate other’s success
Sometimes, you may feel a little jealous if something cool or exciting happens to a friend. You may be tempted to downplay their success or say something mean to “bring them down to earth.” Instead, try to celebrate your friend’s success and focus on how you can support them and be happy for them! You’ll both feel better this way!
- Stick up for others
When kids stand up for other against bullying, the bullying stops. You can tell the person doing the teasing that you think it’s wrong and they should stop. The sooner you say something, the better
- Don’t give up
If a bullying or teasing situation has gone on for a long time, it may not stop immediately. That doesn’t mean that you should give up or think it’s hopeless. You should get help! Tell your parents, teachers or other adults you trust what’s happening and get their help in making it stop. You can also ask other friends to help you stand up against the bullying. You’re stronger when you stick together!
Ongoing training is available at Master Yourself Martial Arts. Martial Arts training can help kids build the confidence to stand up to bullying and stand up for others. See one of our staff members at the end of today’s seminar for information about our ongoing training opportunities.
Books on Friendship and Preventing Bullying that you can read with your kids (these books review a lot of the information covered in today’s seminar and include ideas you can practice with your kids to help them defend themselves and others against bullying behavior). These are all written for ages 8-13.
Stand Up to Bullying by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick (Free Spirit Publishing)
Speak Up and Get Along by Scott Cooper (Free Spirit Publishing)
Girl’s Handbook to Friendship by Fiona Foden (Scholastic Children’s Books)