Ways to prevent bullying and depression in children

 

prevent bullying

*This is a guest post 

Bullying is a problem that is far too prevalent in children’s lives. Even if they are not the victim, almost every child has witnessed bullying in some form, whether by a sibling or family member, a classmate, on the playground, or around the neighbourhood. Some children can just laugh it off, but for others, it is devastating harassment that will scar them for the rest of their lives.

We may never stop bullying entirely, but we can certainly minimize it with compassion and empathy. Children should not have to be afraid to go to school or leave their homes because a bully might hurt them. With the insidiousness of cyberbullying, a child doesn’t even have to leave the home – the bullying is transmitted over cell phone, computer, or mobile device any time of day or not, directly to them. Boys may use physical force to bully, but girls add social ostracization to their bullying, causing their victims distress, depression, and in extreme cases, suicide. Is there anything that can be done to stop it before it gets to that point?

Talk to Your Kids

The best way to prevent bullying is to talk to your kids about it. If your child is being bullied, make sure they know they are welcome to talk to you or another adult without repercussion. Many children don’t report bullying, especially cyberbullying, because they are afraid they will lose privileges or be humiliated. Teach them how to deal with bullying and cyberbullying. If your child is the bully, work with them on learning social cues and teaching them how to tell when their actions are hurtful. Some kids bully because their own self-esteem is low, and others engage in the behavior because they see it at home from parents or siblings. Be the example that they follow outside the home. For advice on how to talk to children see here.

Introduce Children to Pets

Pets have an amazing effect on all of us. Just petting a dog, cat, horse, or other animal releases hormones in our brains that have a calming, pleasurable effect. For a kid that is being bullied, this contact can be extremely meaningful. A pet is also someone a child can confide in to help cope with bullying – a confidante who will listen, not judge, and not repeat embarrassing emotions. However, there is more than that. Every child who has a pet can learn empathy and compassion by taking care if it. Would-be bullies can get a dose of self-esteem as well as theory of mind, which is the understanding that other people have different thoughts and emotions; while this typically develops between ages 3-5, kids with low self-esteem have a harder time with it. An interactive pet, such as a cat or small dog, is better for teaching kids empathy and responsibility, but don’t underestimate the healing power of our furry, feathered, and scaly friends.

Promote Empathy

Not everyone can have pets, but everyone can have empathy. Teaching children empathy is a matter of teaching them emotional intelligence (also called EQ), which is accurate identification of emotional states. Children naturally develop empathy as a result of theory of mind, but helping them understand that everyone is different, has different thoughts, different feelings, and different likes and dislikes can go a long way toward helping them understand altruism and respect for others.

Pay Attention

Above all, pay attention. If bullying is happening, many children are hesitant to tell anyone; cyberbullying may lead to the fear that devices will get taken away and in-person bullying can lead to humiliation, especially if an authority figure such as a parent or teacher tells the child to “get over it” or “suck it up” (this insensitive advice has been the conventional wisdom about bullying for generations). Children nervous about going to school, showing up at home with unexplained injuries or torn clothing may be obvious signs, but some children go to great lengths to hide bullying, so being alert can help spot a problem before it gets out of hand.

Bullying is never easy, for kids or their parents. With diligence and some compassion we can avoid bullying and the consequences it can bring. Helping children understand the effects of bullying and building empathy within them can go a long way toward stamping it out, someday eliminating it altogether with love and respect.

Author Bio: Cassie Brewer is a health professional. In her free time, she enjoys writing about her passion (healthy living of course!) and everything beauty related. Nothing makes her happier than helping other be the best version of themselves they can be. You can read more at cassiebrewer.weebly.com and follow her on twitter @Cassiembrewer.

13 comments

  1. What a great post. I 100% agree about introducing pets as a calming factor. Even as a adult my dog can calm me down after a horrible day at work when I’m stressed.

  2. I do worry about bullying even though my daughter thankfully hasn’t experience it and hopefully she never will. I worry about when she moves into secondary school. At the moment, she’s in a very small village school where she’s friends with everyone. These tips are definitely handy.

  3. I had depression from a young age, from around the age of six but I did not notice my mental health issues until I was 20 at university. It was not until I was 21 when I started blogging that I actually accepted it and learned how to deal with it. I agree that teaching empathy is so important x

  4. Bullying is always something that is so tricky to deal with. But nowadays, with technology, I think it can be a lot more brutal. It’s so easy to type something and press send without realising the consequences and seeing the hurt you’re causing and I think this is something that is so common now in children and teenagers who don’t realise what they are doing. Unfortunately my teenage sister has known a few people in her school life that have committed suicide due to cyber bullying. It’s something that seriously needs addressing and introducing from a much younger age than it is. There are some really useful tips here, I’m definitely bookmarking this page. Having children growing up in this age, we really do need to arm ourselves with as much information and tips as possible. xx
    Chloe Ciliberto recently posted…5 CLEVER WAYS TO ORGANISE YOUR BEDROOM #STORAGEFORTHEWINMy Profile

  5. I have just wrote a similar post actually as it is playing on my mind having a teen who is very active on social media.

  6. Our school have a zero tolerance of bullying and some of the older Yr6 children are buddies so if the kids don’t want to talk to an adult, they go to them instead

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