We should not have to teach kids how to avoid being bullied. Ideally, parents and society should teach children not to bully in the first place. Unfortunately this is not how it goes. We cannot be sure that other parents will teach their kids to be kind and compassionate. So, as parents, we must do what we can to protect our children.
Again, I can speak on this subject from both sides of the coin, so to speak. This is therapeutic for me from the perspective of having been bullied, as well as having been a bully. I will also do my best to help your child, through you, to understand what it is he is doing that makes him a tempting target for a bully.
Bullies choose their victims. Below is a list of the most common traits that attract the attention of a bully. While just about any child will from time to time exhibit any one of these traits, anything you can do as a parent to help your child eliminate items from this list will be helpful.
- She is unable to defend herself.
- He has few, if any, friends.
- They are uninvolved in extracurricular activities.
- He is a low achiever in academics or sports.
- They are ignored or disliked by adults in the school.
- He has weak social skills.
- She has difficulty communicating, especially in stressful situations.
- He is not assertive, and tries to avoid being noticed.
- They intentionally try to annoy or provoke others.
- They hang out with a rough crowd in an attempt to be accepted.
- She does not show any type of self-confidence.
The last item is the most important in my view. I realize that I have mentioned this several times. But it cannot be stated too many times. “True” self-confidence is the number one key to being able to avoid being bullied. Here is an article that I wrote and published about “true” self-confidence.
What is “True” Self-Confidence?
“True” self-confidence is, without a doubt, one of the two most important traits that a child, any child, can have that will help them to avoid becoming the target of a bully, and become a successful and prosperous adult. “True” self-confidence and self-esteem are both necessary for a child to be ready to face the world.
“True” self-confidence is confidence that is based upon accomplishments, not compliments. Riding a bicycle, driving a car, becoming part of an athletic team are all examples of accomplishments. It is anything that you have to practice to become better and better at.
This article deals with “true” self-confidence. There are two different types of self-confidence: “true” self-confidence and “false” self-confidence. One will help your child to avoid becoming a target of bullies. The other will almost assuredly make them one. So it is critically important to make this one of the focal points in any anti-bullying effort on your part for your child’s benefit.
In my book, My Do’s and Don’t’s for Bully-Proofing Your Child, I describe in detail how and what, as the parent, you need to know about helping your child to develop “true” self-confidence. I show you what “To Do” and what “Not To Do”. Unfortunately, this is not as intuitive as you might think. The advice that I offer is based upon 60+ years of common-sense experience dealing with bullying.
So when you start to plan your anti-bullying efforts, do not forget about the issue of “true” self-confidence. There is no other trait that can be substituted in its place. Some additional benefits of “true” self-confidence are: being more attentive, getting better grades in school, performing better in athletics, being more popular, a higher level of responsibility, more empathetic, helping to manage their fears, maintaining a positive mental attitude, better able to withstand the challenges of peer pressure, and more pride in their physical appearance.
Self-confidence can be developed from team sports or solitary ones like running. It can come from academics, classes or extra-curricular ones like debate. It can come from a hobby. It needs to be an activity your children are interested in. As long as what they want to do is not potentially illegal or dangerous, try to accept their choice. This alone will help them feel good, and they are more likely to put enough effort into it to become really good at it. This will translate into self-confidence.