Despite what the local weather report may suggest for many of us, summer is over. Days are slowly getting shorter, pumpkin spice latte season has officially begun, and the kids have gone back to school. It’s exciting to watch your children learn and grow, but when you’re a mother, excitement almost always has a little bit of worry tagging along behind it. We’re here to talk about a concern that weighs on just about every parent at some point: bullying.
What are you worried about as the new school year begins? Having to re-learn geometry so you can help with math homework? Volunteering to bake 8 dozen gluten-free cupcakes because you’re slightly scared of the PTA president? Chances are, no matter what else is going through your ever-active mama mind, bullying is somewhere on the list. From the moment our offspring start to interact with other people’s offspring, we’re afraid that they’ll be bullied. And if they’re not being bullied, we start to worry that they ARE the bullies.
So how do we help break the cycle and teach our children the value of kindness? Let’s try to figure it out together.
Bullying isn’t a new issue, but it is one that’s escalated as the experience of childhood becomes increasingly complicated. Easier access to information (especially personal information) provides kids with more emotional ammunition, and the mainstreaming of sophisticated technology means even more opportunities to torment each other.
About 1 in 4 U.S. children report being bullied at school on a regular basis, and during high school, nearly 80% of students experience some form of cyberbullying. Getting stuffed into a locker or being hassled for your lunch money is no fun, but when you’re also being shamed on social media at all hours or receiving a relentless stream of mean-spirited text messages, it doesn’t take long for your self-esteem to start dwindling.
Research suggests that both victims of bullying and bullies themselves suffer long-term effects, such as being more at risk for substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. So while it may be more challenging to feel sympathy for a child who’s a bully than for the child whom he or she is bullying, this is a problem that needs to be addressed from both sides if our goal is make sure ALL of our children have brighter futures.
Of course our goal is to brighten our children’s futures. It can be overwhelming, though, figuring out how to balance our desire to protect them and our desire to help them be independent, self-confident, and thoughtful.
These simple suggestions from stopbullying.gov are a good place to start:
• Help kids understand bullying.
Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable.
• Make sure kids know how to get help.
Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
• Encourage kids to do what they love.
Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
• Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.
Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying.
The little (and not so little) things
Next time you’re waiting in the car line, kissing your kiddos goodbye before they hop on the school bus, or tucking a note into a lunchbox, offer a sweet but straightforward reminder to be compassionate and brave. Be as available and present for your children as possible. Don’t shelter your children, but protect them. Any way that you can. With love, always, but maybe also with life insurance.
Ready for your first homework assignment of the school year? Visit ourlifecovered.com, get a free quote, and learn how life insurance can help moms protect that bright future they’re working so hard to provide.