10 ways to stop your son growing up to be a bully
1. Teach children how to take responsibility for their own care
Children as young as 3 and 4 years old can learn how to take responsibility for their own care by being encouraged to pick up wet towels from the floor, clear away dirty plates, make their beds and put their shoes/coats/school bags away. Many everyday tasks can be built into age-appropriate games such as putting just one or two items (their favourite foods) into their own carrier bag at the supermarket for them to be responsible for.
2. Teach your child how to give
Time spent helping a child to make a card or small gift for someone special has the double benefit of being a great activity to do together, and shows the child that there’s no better gift than one that comes from the heart.
3. Teach your child that violence is not acceptable in any form
Parents of toddlers in particular may have experienced them pushing or kicking out when we’re asking them to do something they don’t like the sound of and as good parents, we’ve developed coping strategies for dealing with this type of behaviour. However, just as unacceptable is glaring, sulking, shouting, rolling their eyes at you, pulling faces and mimicking. Educate your child this is not acceptable behaviour.
4. Stop them calling you names.
By ignoring name-calling, even ‘cute’ terms like ‘poopyhead’ or ‘fattybum’ we are laying the foundations of letting the child think it’s okay to call Mum names. If your child is being even mildly disrespectful in this way, it must be dealt with. Using the get out clause of ‘I was only joking Mum’ is also not acceptable and we teach the child this.
5. No is the new yes
Learn how to say no. Empower your son by showing him that Mum isn’t at their personal slave and they can do things for themselves.
6. Show, don’t just tell
Teach your children how to show love, not just how to say ‘I love you’. Actions speak louder than words and we need to demonstrate to our children how to show love through kindness, compassion, care and encouragement.
7. Big boys do cry
Support your son’s emotional intelligence by being supportive when they cry. Show them it’s healthy and natural to let their emotions out in this way. A boy who is taught that tears are a sign of weakness risks being taught the wrong messages about how they handle situations that can have far reaching consequences throughout their lives. Anxiety can be caused in later life by not letting emotions out.
8. Teach your son it’s cool to be a domestic god
By ‘playing’ at house with boys as well as girls, they learn important lessons about caring for people and the balance of responsibility within a family.
9. Acknowledge, encourage and reward positive male role modelling
Seize any opportunity to demonstrate appreciation on your partner for their contribution to the family roles. Having a male partner who shows love, compassion and can manage their emotions is the key to showing your son how to support, respect and love a woman. Encourage their contribution by acknowledging their skills in this regard. If you don’t have a male partner, encourage good role models from within your trusted circle, such as male family members to spend time with your child.
10. Read ‘The Freedom Project’ by Pat Craven
In this book, Pat shares valuable insight about bullies, how they are ‘made’ and how they should be handled. Craven believes that many bullying beliefs are formed in childhood and that as Mother’s, we have a responsibility to not over-mother our sons into thinking that women are inferior.
If I had a daughter, I would focus on teaching her that she can do anything a man can do. We are all made up of masculine as well as feminine energy and we need to embrace both sides to become well rounded, strong and caring people.