October is National Bullying Prevention Month. And the choice of words matters. Prevention is different than awareness. Building awareness is not needed, we know how bullying works and how to deal with it.
Bullying, is not an action. It’s not punching, or name calling, or social media.
It’s a mentality.
Bullying is intentional and repetitive, it’s about creating a power imbalance to make one person feel lesser with the “Bully” attempting to make themselves feel more powerful at the expense of the victim.
The reason October is called a “prevention” month and not a “awareness” month is that bullying can be solved. We have the cure!
The cure is building confidence in children. Confident children are bully-proof. Confident kids don’t become bullies.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view children are much less independent now than they where in previous generations. Their lives are more structured, more supervised and they are rarely without the presence of an adult.
As a result anxiety levels can go up, confidence levels can go down and bullying levels increase.
What kids need is independence, autonomy and a sense of being able to contribute.
So here are some things that we feel every kid should learn:
Swimming - Basic swimming skills should be something everyone learns.
Cooking - The ability to feed yourself should be something everyone has. It can also help with dealing with picky eaters, giving them choice and being able to be a part of the process will lead to more willingness to try new things in many cases.
Talk to Strangers - Simply going up to a till and making a purchase on their own, interacting with a cashier. Ordering their own food in a restaurant, little things can go along way. With Halloween coming up let them ring the bell, knock on the door and yell “Trick-or-Treat” and say thank you at every house. In one evening they can talk to a whole bunch of strangers.
Take care of a pet - The act of taking care of a something, regardless of what it is (dog, cat, fish, hamster, etc) gives a sense of being needed and important to something else survival.
Learn how to Lose - Kids need to lose, not just win. In life it’s how we handle our loses and how we deal with adversity that determines our success of failure. Whether it’s in sports, games or anything else… they need to lose as well as win.
Basic First Aid - How to clean a scratch and put a band aid on if needed. But being able to treat their own minor bumps and scratches then carry on with what they where doing.
Teach Someone - Even teaching someone to play a board game, teaching someone something shows them that they can know things others don’t and are able to transfer that knowledge.
Learn Jiu-Jitsu / Wrestle - Wrestling, grappling, Jiu-Jitsu, whatever it is called is an important part of development, something we are now starting to see science to back the importance of. It's vigorous, free-form, whole-body, energetic, happy play. Kids learn decision-making skills, relieve stress, improve their ability to read social cues, and enhance their cardio-vascular health.
Create a game - Board game, physical game, any sort of game. Understanding that games (and life) has a set of rules and success comes from playing within those rules. Rules are what make games work, and what makes them fun.
Speak to a Group - Like a lot of things on the list this is something that can be really simple. Speaking to a group of friends to thank them for coming at a birthday party, but bonus points if it’s not just people they know.
Make a Video - Youtube is here to stay, and they will hit an age where they probably want to be a youtuber. So let them make a video, (you can add privacy setting if you want), send it to family and friends and let them get some likes and views.
And a small favour - What's something you do with, or have your child do to help them build confidence?