Your precious 4 year-old child WILL be bullied when they start school…have you prepared them?
Dr Lemke’s Book ***Coming Summer 2016, “The Be-Fours of Bullying” ***
We’ve ALL been there. It doesn’t matter if you are the most popular and well-adjusted child, at some point in your life you will be bullied. But, did you know that bullying can start as young as preschool? Many parents are terrified that their child will be bullied. Their only choice, up until this point, is to wait until school age and cross their fingers in hopes that their child escapes the hurtful venom of other children. Ignoring and hoping the issue of bullying will go away is not a great tactic!
Dr. Kim Lemke (author of the children’s book “I Just Don’t Get My Parents’ Rules!”) introduces the groundbreaking concept called: ‘Be-four’ Bullying: The Four Things to Teach Your Four-Year-Old Before They Are Bullied. These simple, yet effective strategies will finally give parents the developmentally appropriate tools they need to combat the bullying and cyber-bullying epidemic. The good news is that Dr. Lemke knows the way to be proactive and mindful, beginning as EARLY AS 4 YEARS OLD! In an engaging and entertaining way, Dr. Lemke helps teach parents that their goal is not to prevent their children from experiencing hurtful things, but rather to arm them with the right tools they need when it does occur.
Q&A with Dr. Kim Lemke:
Q1: I was a shy and small child so I was an easy target for bullies and it started as earlier as first grade. My mom’s suggestion was to ask the bully, “What did I do?” and talk to the bully to leave me alone. She said if that didn’t work to just ignore them. It did not work. Was is the best advice parents can give a child who is dealing with a bully or bullies?
Help your child learn the saying “brush it off and bounce back.” The majority of bullies continue to bully a child because of the response they receive. If the child that is being bullied responds in a way that tells the bully that he/she has upset the child then the bully will focus in on that child. It is best to teach your child not to respond to the bully, but instead to make it appear that the bully’s comment has not affected them. They can then later process through their feelings in a safe environment with someone that they trust. Children at this age are very visual learners as well, so use your hand motions to illustrate that you are brushing something off, and then take a slight bounce forward while using the phrase. It is helpful to reward a child when you see them do it and help them identify situations that would warrant this sort of strategy. In your day to day interactions with your child, model how you as the parent are ‘brushing it off and bouncing back’.
Q2: How do you teach parents that you can’t prevent children from hurtful experiences but instead give them strategies and arm their children with the right tools?
I teach parents the four strategies in my new concept “The Be-Fours of Bullying: The Four Things to Teach Your Four Year Old Before They Are Bullied.” As hard as it is to see your child have to experience bullying, it is normal and it will happen. The most important thing that we can remember as parents is that our goal is not to prevent them from experiencing hurtful things, but rather to arm them with the tools they need when it does occur. The four strategies that are vital to teach our toddlers now are: 1) Help your child learn the various feeling words 2) Help your child learn the saying “brush it off and bounce back” 3) Help build a strong self-esteem core by helping a child identify what they like about themselves on a daily basis and 4) Teach your child about empathy.
Q3: I often hear parents say to their kids that if a bully wants to fight them, to fight back. Is that a good strategy?
This is a common strategy, but unfortunately not a helpful one. As I mentioned earlier, a bully craves a response from the child they are bullying. Any response that shows the bully that he/she is getting to the child only serves to increase and escalate the bullying. The other negative to this strategy is that often if the child decides to fight back, then they will also receive the same consequences from the school as the bully. This often might lead to further embarrassment or humiliation.
Q4: What should a teacher’s responsibility to their students who are being bullied or are a bully? Does talking to the teacher make the bullying situation worse?
The decrease of bullying and teasing in schools will ONLY be achieved if the teachers and academic institution are committed to stepping in and addressing bullying. I have previously written and implemented a school program titled, “Watch O.U.T for Bullying,” which highlights the various forms of bullying and the various players, including the bullies, the bullied and the bystanders. It is absolutely critical that not only the teacher be notified of bullying situations in writing, but also the principal, vice-principal, social worker, etc. Many schools now have adopted some form of a bullying prevention program and I encourage parents to ask for a copy of the specific program from their school from the beginning so that they are aware of the school’s policies on bullying and cyberbullying.
Q5: What are your most successful advice strategies for families who are dealing with bullies?
If the bullying is happening on school grounds, then it is imperative to notify in writing the principal and other school personnel and not try to handle the bully or the bully’s parents on your own. Often time bullying behavior is learned and confronting the bully’s parents leads to the same outcome. I also recommend that if the bullying is happening outside of school, especially if it is physical, then to notify the police immediately. Inside the child’s house that is being bullied, let him/her know that the parent is taking action and seek counseling for the child if they seem to be struggling with all the emotions that come from being bullied. Let the child know that you hear him/her and empathize with the fear, pain and sadness they must feel.
Q6: Should parents be teaching their kids to not be passive bystanders if they encounter other peers being bullied?
Teach your child about empathy. Empathy is being able understand and share someone else’s emotional response. We spend a lot of time discussing the bully and the child that is being bullied, but a crucial group of people that are vital to decreasing bullying is the bystanders. These are the students who are walking by in the hall when they hear a comment being made, or the students sitting at the lunch table next to a child who is sitting all alone. Bullying behaviors dramatically decrease when the bystanders don’t condone the behavior or sit idly by. By teaching your child the skill of empathy, then he/she can understand what another child is feeling and possibly change the course of a bully’s intentions. An environment filled with empathic bystanders sends a message to a bully that demeaning comments or cruel behaviors will not be tolerated.
Q7: If a child is being bullied, what steps should parents take to help the social and mental and physical health of their child?
Bullying can have devastating effects on children. It can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger issues, withdrawal, etc. Parents first need to openly educate their child about bullying from a very young age. When a child then encounters a bully they are armed with the tools and knowledge they need. It is very helpful for parents to also maintain a constant dialogue with their child about school, so that their child shares with them things going on during their school day. With an open dialogue, children are more likely to share when they are bullied and who the bullies are. Finally, a child needs a safe place to process through their feelings. Sometimes, the outlet can be the parents or friends, but as the severity increases, it is important to possibly have the child speak to a psychologist about what is going on. The therapist is not only able to help the child with their emotional struggles and teach them additional tools, but they also become an advocate for the child and parents when dealing with the school if needed.
* FOX NEWS- http://foxbaltimore.com/m/news/features/morning/stories/170559-Family-411-Bullying.shtml
· Moving Forward: Wellness One Step at a Time: By Dr. Serena Wadhwa:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/parental-pitcher-wellness/id850148497?i=319161889&mt=2
· Live interview with Parent Nation: http://toginet.com/shows/parentnation/
· Successful Living with Bill Knapik: Listen to Dr. Lemke on the topic of: What Makes Us Tick?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsEyxxaI42corhttp://www.kkht.com/ContentPages/6271/
· “How to Be the Parent You Have Always Wanted to Be.” The show taped on June 26, 2015 and will air on Chicago Cable 25
Dr Lemke’s Book ***Coming Summer 2016, “The Be-Fours of Bullying” ***