Kids hurting kids has become all too common and familiar. Big, dramatic stories draw the news media. Schools and communities often put a lot of effort into preparing for and trying to prevent these awful scenarios. But there are also many little things you can do to help your children learn how to solve conflicts peacefully, without hurtful words or actions.
Tips for . . .
- parents with children ages birth to 5
- Calmly and firmly separate yourself from a baby who bites or hits. It’s never a good idea to bite or hit back to “teach the baby a lesson.”
- If your child is aggressive with other children, closely supervise playtime. If you see your child becoming agitated, gently step in and either calm the situation with simple language or move your child somewhere else.
- parents with children 6 to 9
- Read and discuss books about peaceful conflict resolution together. Ask your librarian for suggestions.
- Make sure children hear adults solving problems in peaceful ways — not with shouting, angry words, or hitting. If you and your child witness bullying or intimidation by adults or children, point it out, talk about it, and think of alternate ways the situation could have been handled.
- If you find out your child is bullying or being bullied, don’t add stress by showing your anger, fear, or disappointment. First listen carefully and respectfully while your child explains her or his point of view. Then work together to make a plan to solve the problem.
- parents with children 10 to 15
- Encourage your children to develop positive friendships through social groups, clubs, or sports programs. If conflicts with peers arise, advise your children to spend more time with the friends who treat them well.
- Encourage your children to work on staying calm when others are rude or unkind. Getting angry or defensive often “eggs on” bullies and makes them feel more powerful.
- Talk with your kids—ask about their friends, about what it’s like to ride the bus or walk through the lunchroom. Keep talking and asking questions, even when they don’t seem anxious to respond. If you know or find out that bullying is going on at school, in a congregation, or in another organization, be sure to report it.
- parents with children 16 to 18
- Encourage your child’s school to make peaceful conflict resolution or peer mediation training available to students, teachers, and staff.
- Know that there are different kinds of bullying—cyberbullying (via the Internet, cell phones), emotional bullying, physical bullying, racial bullying, sexual bullying, and verbal bullying. Make it clear to your teen that none of these types of harassment are acceptable.
- If your teen is bullying other young people, try to get at the root of the problem. Is there a conflict or dispute? Is your child experiencing a lot of stress or emotional problems? If the problem continues, talk with your child’s doctor, a teacher, or another trusted adult who can help.