How to Start Talking About Bullying With Your Kids - Finds.Life.Church

How to Start Talking About Bullying With Your Kids

by Samantha Lowe

It’s time to have one conversation all parents need to have with their kids. And relax—we’re not talking about the birds and the bees.

Okay. Relax break over.

This conversation may even be more difficult and uncomfortable. It’s a heartbreaking hot topic kids have had way more experience with than you’d like: bullying.

Talk through these questions to find out what your kids are seeing and dealing with personally, and to give them strategies to stop bullying.

“I’ve heard a lot of people talking about bullying. What do you think bullying is?” Let your kids speak openly, and listen to what they have to say about it. Use personal examples or hypothetical stories and let them choose which ones are about bullying and which ones aren’t. Help them understand that bullying behavior is when someone is habitually shaming, hurting, and dominating others. It’s more than getting in an argument with your friends or things not going your way.

“Have you ever heard someone say, ‘So-and-so is just a big bully?’ What do you think about saying something like that?” There is power in the names we create for ourselves and others. Kids need your help to see that there’s a person on the other side of the “bully” label. God created them to bear His image, to be loved by Him, and to know Jesus. What new names can your kids think of to bless someone who manifests bullying behavior? How can those new names help to stop bullying?

“What do you think makes people bully others?” Your kids might say, “They’re just mean. They just want to hurt people.” Help them get the concept that, “Hurt people hurt people.” Help your child understand the motives behind bullying behavior so they can develop empathy for and forgiveness toward someone who engages in it. Someone may have been hurt or abused, they may be building walls because they’re afraid of rejection, or they may lack confidence and feel they’re stronger when they put other people down.

“What do you think it feels like to be bullied?” Unfortunately, your child may not have to think hypothetically to answer this one. Listen to them describe the feelings they associate with bullying, and use those to help them empathize with and connect to others who have been bullied. Take time to build your kids up so they understand who they are in Christ. They are not a victim, they are not helpless, they are not defeated. They have the full armor of God, the perfect peace that surpasses understanding, and are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Every negative feeling and lying script bullying feeds into has a hope-filled counterpart in God’s word. Help yourself and your child find their own words to live by instead of lies.

“Sometimes people bully others without even realizing it. How is that possible?” Has your kid ever avoided or made fun of another kid because no one else liked them? Have they hurt or teased someone to get even, make themselves feel better, get attention, or to get a laugh? Help your kids examine the motives they have for behaviors they may have felt justified in. Help them identify times they’re trying to protect their own feelings at the expense of someone else’s. The purpose isn’t to make them feel guilty or ashamed, but help them stop bullying by becoming someone who extends God’s love instead of perpetuating what is wrong.

“What can you do when you see someone getting bullied—or you’re getting bullied?” Help your kids identify clear actions to respond to and stop bullying. Who can they get help from? What can they say to get help? What can they do if someone retaliates because they stood up for what’s right? What should they do if they see cyber bullying? Brainstorm ways they can reach out to someone who has been bullied and times it may be safe and appropriate to reach out to the person who is doing the bullying. Lead your child through prayers of blessing and guidance for those who are getting bullied, those who are hurting others, and for themselves.

“Some people say it’s hard to speak up or get help when they see someone getting bullied or they’re getting bullied. What do you think makes it so hard to speak up or get help?” Listen to your kids’ thoughts, and let them know that everyone feels uncomfortable when they see or are on the receiving end of bullying. It’s normal, and your kids need to know that. But that discomfort, whether it’s helplessness, fear, or anxiety, cannot be an excuse to stop us from action.

Ready for the conversation yet? Don’t put it off. You can stop bullying. Your kids can stop bullying. Our God stands up for those who are hurting and outcast, and we have His Spirit within us. When we ask Him to, He will give us the wisdom to stand up for what’s right. Your kids can trust God’s power to create in them a voice of compassion, hope, empathy, and grace. Their voice, empowered by God, can release God’s love and healing power in the lives of people who need it most.

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