Parenting practices can prevent – or foster – bullying behaviors in kids

Parents can help to create home environments that protect their children from being involved with bullying.

Many parents want to protect their children from being the target of other’s bullying behaviors. For some parents, their worse fear is that their own child will be the one being hurtful to other children. One of the things that we can do as adults in the lives of children is to examine our own behaviors and to pay attention to what we’re modeling for our children.

In her book Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear, author Carrie Goldman draws from the work of several scholars and shares information on parenting practices that can help prevent bullying – as well as those that can actually foster bullying behaviors. Here are a few examples of risk factors and protective factors that Goldman shares in her book:

Risk Factors Kids who bully others are more likely to experience:

  • Frequent and inconsistent punishment
  • Harshness, rejection or neglect from their parents
  • Cruelty, maltreatment and domestic violence
  • Low parental warmth
  • Low family connections and cohesion
  • Limited parental involvement in school

Protective Factors – Parents of well-adjusted kids tend to:

  • Use effective monitoring
  • Communicate warmth, love and a sense of belonging
  • Get actively involved in their child’s school activities
  • Set appropriate, consistent boundaries
  • Have expectations for their children
  • Communicate regularly with their children’s teachers

Michigan State University Extension provides opportunities for parents, youth workers and other adults to learn more about issues of bullying and ways to create safe, affirming and fair environments with and on behalf of young people. For more information, check out a new initiative called Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments.

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