When your child has been the target of bullying, the whole family can dread the first day of a new school year … and all the days that follow. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our children informed their bullies that the jig is up, so the bully might as well quit trying to torment them? I picture my child writing a note and handing copies to everyone who has ever verbally or emotionally bullied her. It goes something like this:
Well, even if we can’t get our children to go this extreme, we can help them develop this mindset: there is no way you’re going to win, bully!
If you’ve taught your child some coping skills like the ones we present in Baffle That Bully! and helped build their confidence, it becomes very difficult for bullying attempts to take hold. To learn about our 3 step strategy that we named Baffle That Bully! please check out our book where we teach children how to turn their encounters with bullies into a game.
But today let’s focus on the self-confidence component: How can we empower our children to hold their heads high in the face of teasing, name calling, isolation, and other forms of verbal or emotional bullying? How do we get them to believe in themselves and value themselves as much we value them?
As parents we all know that there isn’t a single perfect answer, but one thing is for sure: when you give your child your time and attention on a regular basis, they feel valued and their confidence grows. A sense of self-worth can help your child handle just about any unpleasant encounter.
The Daily Free-Brief: A Way of Spending Time With Your Child to Help Build Their Confidence
During my daughter’s 2 year struggle with being the target of emotional and verbal bullying, she and I developed a routine that we call: The Daily Free-Brief. Right after school, we come home and spend 10 minutes one on one talking about her day. She is free to talk openly about anything she wants, but she has to include the things that went great (“Highs”) as well as the things that went poorly (“Lows”). It’s important to talk about the Highs, so you can help your child learn to focus on the positives in their life. But it’s equally important to talk about the Lows, because that’s where you’ll first discover any problems. Our family learned that things can escalate rapidly from an isolated day when “that girl said something mean to me” to regular daily verbal abuse by a bully.
The sooner we identify a problem, the sooner we can start helping our children cope with the situation, view it differently, and take control of the outcome.
The Daily Free-Brief is also a way of giving your child your full, undivided attention. Leave your cell phone in another room, and make sure other family members know not to disturb the two of you. This little 10 minute patch of time – whether it’s immediately after school, shortly after you get home from work, or part of the bedtime routine – shows your child how important they are. You are setting aside this private time, because you want to hear what’s on their mind and how their day went. When they feel valued, their confidence will blossom, and self-confidence is the key to handling just about anything negative from the Lows of their day to encounters with bullies.
So try to schedule 10 minutes every day to do The Daily Free-Brief with each of your children. In the long run, you’re laying the foundation for the happy, highly-effective adult that your child will ultimately become. In the short run, which is what our children are most concerned with: