Teaching Kids: How to Cope with Bullies

How Nannies Can Teach Children Anti-Bullying Principles

One of a nanny’s important responsibilities is helping the children in her care learn to get along with others. Nannies do this by providing a wide variety of opportunities for children to observe, learn, develop and practice social skills.

Nannies not only model and interact with their charges to foster social development; they facilitate peer relationships by engaging in different social experiences. Nannies may attend or host playgroups, visit the playground, take trips to the library and even simply go to the grocery store. Whenever children are around others they have an opportunity to glean information from the social interactions they observe.

While it’s every parent and nanny’s hope that children are taught how to properly interact with others and are closely observed when playing
with peers, sadly, that isn’t the case. Bullying is no longer reserved for older children. Forms of bullying can be witnessed in the earliest of social situations.

Nannies must not only keep the children in their care safe, they must ensure that the young children in their care is not being bullied or bulling
others. While physical attacks and social isolation isn’t as common in the toddler set, it’s certainly seen in ages preschool and older. While children may deliberately and repeatedly try to gain power over a peer by name calling or pushing, they can also attempt to exert control by bad mouthing a peer behind her back, spreading rumors or by excluding her from activities.

By teaching children social skills, nannies can reduce the risk that the child in their care becomes a bully or becomes bullied. Nannies can teach children how to be a good friend, the importance of respecting others and how to stand up to a bully without becoming a bully themselves. Nannies can reinforce anti-bullying lessons through role play, by reading stories and by engaging in pretend play.

Nannies and parents should work together to devise a strategy for how the child should be taught to handle a bully. They should also have open and honest communication regarding concerns and suspicions about bullying behaviors.

10 Lessons to Teach a Child Who Has Been Hit By Another Child

Back in the day, when parents heard that their child had been hit by another child the standard response was, “So, did you smack the other kid back?” There wasn’t a lot of room for alternatives, and adults expected children to deal with these situations themselves, for fear of having a child labeled as a “sissy”. The reigning school of thought was that if you hit a bully right back the bully would back down and there would be peace in the valley. Bullying and parenting are viewed somewhat differently today, though some of the same dynamics still apply. There really is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to how parents and caregivers are expected to act in this situation, but the following pointers can help guide you as you struggle to do the right thing.

  1. Hitting Back Isn’t Always Best - This is still the #1 choice for a lot of parents, but it may not be the best way to handle the problem. If your child hits back, and “vanquishes” his tormentor, that may be fine, minus any disciplinary or legal action. But, many kids aren’t and will never be fighters, and they may just leave themselves open to serious mental and physical harm if they think that they have to respond to aggression with more aggression.
  2. Self-Defense – If children are amenable to the idea, self-defense lessons or karate instruction can help them learn to defend themselves without turning them into bullies.
  3. Don’t “Feed” Bullies – Bullies usually crave attention, so ignoring them is often a useful behavioral tool to teach a child.
  4. Confident Attitude – Personal bearing can be important to warding off unwanted attention from a bully. Bullies will typically seek obviously weaker children to torment, and a child with a confident attitude is less likely to be pushed around.
  5. Avoidance is a Stradegy – Confrontation doesn’t suit a lot of children, and simply avoiding a mean kid may be all that is necessary, though care should be taken that a child isn’t going to feel a need to hide from the world.
  6. When Parents Should Step In – There are times when parents need to take steps to protect their children, and this doesn’t mean one parent going over to the other kid’s house to solve things once and for all. If it is a school situation, and teachers and administrators aren’t aware of the problem, then they need to be informed. If the problem is extra-curricular, then the parents of both children may need to have a conversation.
  7. There is Strength in Numbers – Bullies tend not to harass children who are grouped together; they prefer to single out their prey.
  8. There Can Be School Consequences for Retaliation – Even if your child is only defending himself or herself by hitting back, there may be repercussions. Most schools have no-hitting policies in place, and the consequences may be the same for any child involved in a scrape, no matter who started it. If your policy is to have your child retaliate then you also need to explain that although you might not be angry with your kid, there isn’t a lot that you can do to influence school policy.
  9. Conflict Management – Often a hitting incident doesn’t involve bullying. It can simply be a matter of disagreement between children (whose turn is it to play with a toy?) who don’t yet know how to deal with  conflict. This is the “teaching moment” for parents and nannies to educate children in the art of negotiation and the value of acceptable social behavior.
  10. That Bullying Behavior Isn’t Tolerated – Children should be aware that no bullying applies to them too. While children should be taught to stand up for themselves, they should be able to do so without becoming a bully themselves.

How you deal with a child being hit can from situation to situation, but you don’t want your child getting hurt any more than you want your kid to turn into a bully. The age of the children and the circumstances surrounding the instance should dictate how the issue is resolved. While it would be in the realm of normal for a toddler to bite a child because he wanted the toy he had, it would not be considered normal for a 7-year-old to do the same thing. And since bullying isn’t defined by an isolated incident, it’s important to evaluate the situation at hand carefully before taking action measures. A situation where two teenage boys get into a fight over a girl will likely be handled differently than a teen who consistently steals another teens lunch money and rips up his homework.


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