SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Parenting journalist and expert Donna Tetreault speaks with ABC4’s Emily Clark about the importance of navigating bullying with your children.
What truly defines bullying? Tetreault says it’s important to correctly identify true bullying behavior before you can successfully address it.
“Bullying is making threats, spreading rumors, verbally or physically attacking another person, and exclusion on purpose,” says Tetreault. “Bullying is this imbalance of power. Kids who bully will use their power, such as physical strength or access to embarrassing information or popularity to control or harm others.
The power imbalance is a critical component of true bullying, Tetreault says. Bullying behavior is also repetitive, with kids who are being targeted experiencing the bullying more than once.
So what are the signs parents can look for to see if their child is being bullied?
Tetreault says typical signs include changes in eating and sleeping patterns, avoiding school or normal social activities. It’s important to notice the signs before they continue dragging out as prolonged bullying can lead to depression, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, physical health complaints, and poor academic performance.
“We’ve got to really tune in and focus on what our kid is showing us,” says Tetreault.
If your child is being bullied, how can you face this hurdle and tackle it successfully? Encouraging your child to use their voice by telling the bullies that their behavior is not okay is an excellent start.
It’s a difficult situation, but Tetreault says instilling confidence is key, saying “If you can say to your child ‘You have the confidence. Leave in a powerful, peaceful way. Remove yourself from that scenario, remove yourself from that unsafe situation, however it might feel best for you.”
It’s critical to normalize the idea that bullying is not okay. Instill the confidence in your child to call out bad behavior when it presents itself. Remind your child they can always trust an adult will help them if they vocalize their issues with a bully.
Teaching your children to be “upstanders” instead of bystanders when witnessing bullying is a wonderful way to empower your children.
“Teaching our kids to be upstanders empowers them as well, when they might face bullying themselves,” says Tetreault.
To watch the full conversation, check out the video above.