Parents preventing and dealing with bullying

Parents are one of the most influential factors when talking about bullying – in that they are the most likely to be able to prevent it.

The way parents model appropriate interactions and communication to their children (for example, resolve disagreements, be assertive when appropriate) will impact on how their children interact with others – at school, online, or in the workplace.

In particular, children learn about interacting with others through their observations of others (for example how their parents treat one another and other family members).

Parents should aim for an authoritative parenting style: one that includes showing love and care towards a child, gives a child an appropriate level of independence for their age, and also sets clear rules and consequences for inappropriate behaviour.

Parents can help children to develop empathy and learn to take the perspective of another by talking with their children about how others might feel when they behave in certain ways and how they feel given certain behaviours by others.

Providing children with opportunities to play with other children and learn how to do so in social ways under the supervision of parents, gives children the chance to practice interacting in socially acceptable ways from an early age.

But how can the parents know what goes on at school?

Despite our best efforts to prevent bullying, it may still occur and parents need to know what to do in situations where their child is bullying others or being bullied by others.

Parents should be aware of signs that their children may be bullying someone.

This comes down to knowing your child well and detecting changes in behaviour.

This includes changes in demeanour, and more obvious signs such as acquisition of money or expensive possessions. Continue reading


Sheryl Hemphill is Professor of Psychology at Australian Catholic University.

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