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Are You Raising a Bully?

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Could you be raising a bully and not know it? Parent Educator and Family Coach, Kim DeMarchi, M.Ed, stopped by with a lesson in bully prevention.

You'll find more information from Kim on her Passport to Parenting Facebook Page.

Q. How can parents avoid raising a bully?

A. It is our job as caring, responsible parents to be constant teachers and role models when it comes to fostering empathy and positive social behavior.

So if you don't want your son to be highly critical and judgmental of others, try not to criticize your neighbor in front of your kids.

If you don't want your daughter to share with friends other children's confidences, don't gossip about your neighbor's personal life to your friends.

Because we're all works in progress, we need to view our children's and our own social digressions as teachable moments through which we can learn from our mistakes and move forward. Many parents want to point the finger outward, instead of looking inward or at their own child. Some parents act like they took this job to be their kid's press agent, rather than shape and mold their character. Sometimes it seems we spend more energy on superficial concerns for our children than we do on building their character! Look...my kid got straight A's, made all district, has the lead in the school play....yes, that's great, but how do they treat people?

Q. What specifically can parents teach their kids that would help prevent their kids from becoming a bully?

A. Kindness and empathy have to be taught. Having the ability to know what it feels like to be in someone else's shoes AND to have compassion for another's pain and suffering will serve children well. It's not about becoming best friends with everyone. It's about giving people a chance and not prejudging them.

Tell your kids they need to treat everyone with respect. They need to understand that their actions, as subtle as can be, affect other people greatly.

Encourage them to be nice to the new kid. Scoot down on the lunchroom bench and let someone fit in. Offer a friendly smile.

Children also need to feel that other people's feelings have value and are worth their consideration. The more empathy and compassion children feel for their peers, the less room there is in their hearts for contempt and disregard for others' feelings.

Q. Any other tips for all the parents out there?

A. Stay connected. Know your child. Accept them and love them unconditionally. Communication is key. Talk, listen, check in often, and keep tabs on the world she lives in.

Is your child more likely to be the bully, the bullied, or the bystander? Explore all sides of a story that feels off when your child claims to be a victim.

One of the biggest disservices we can do to our children is to listen unconditionally to their side of the story and assume they are guilt-free without doing some due diligence. Model kindness in an out of your family and insist on it.

Screen the media in your home- music, movies, TV, video games. When you hear or see something that doesn't align with your values, talk about it.

Know that we all make mistakes - kids and parents alike. We must hold our children accountable for their behavior. They need to take responsibility for their actions. Teach your kids how to make it right. If we are going to insist on being the Helicopter Generation, let's at least hover over the right areas.