4. Let your children know they have the power to stop mean behaviors when they witness them. In order to stop bullying, kids, parents and school staff all need to take a stand that mean behaviors will not be tolerated. Your child can play a powerful role.
Teach your children what to do when they witness emotional aggression or physical aggression. Then role play so your child gains more confidence using the strategies. In cases of physical aggression, your child must immediately report the aggression to an adult so everyone can stay safe.
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Bullies typically are seeking power, control, popularity and negative attention. When your child hears mean a comment they can say, "hey, let's all get along" or "that's not cool" and offer a kind word about the target. When enough kids do this, it will no longer be "cool" to be mean.
Another effective strategy is ICI:
I- Intervene when you see bullying by walking over to the people involved.
C- Compliment the target or the bully to create a more positive climate.
I- Invite the target to come with you as you leave the scene to diffuse the situation.
5. Stop your own kids when you see mean actions or hear mean words they're saying.
If you're driving the car pool and you hear your child say, "can you believe the make-up Rachel's wearing? It's so ugly", stop the behavior. You can say, "I bet Rachel would be hurt by that comment. Please say something nice instead." In that way, you're modeling that mean comments are not acceptable and in fact, hurt others.
You should also monitor your kids on-line use by making random checks of what they're writing. Half of all kids admit to being "mean" on-line.
If someone tells you your child has been mean, try not to be defensive and instead hear them out. Then, talk with your child in a non-accusatory way to hear their side of the story. Hold your child accountable by making amends to the other child when feelings have been hurt.
6. Watch the "My Kid Would Never Bully" video and then watch it with your child. This video was produced by NBC Dateline and is one of the best illustrations of the dynamic between bullies, bystanders and targets. "My Kid Would Never Bully" is now available on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com. There are six segments. Watch them first to see if your child is mature enough to watch various segments with you. The videos show the power that a bystander has to stop bullying and can create a helpful tool for talking about bullying dynamics with your child.
For a resource list with books, videos and on-line sites that can help prevent bullying go to: http://www.getparentinghelpnow.com/pdf/BullyingResourceList3.pdf
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By Toni Schutta, Parent Coach, M.A., L.P. Visit http://www.getparentinghelpnow.com to receive a free copy of the report, "3 Essential Strategies to Get Your Kids to Listen the First Time."