May 10, 2013

The conversation you need to have with your child

Many parents think carefully about how to talk with their children about difficult topics like sex and drugs. But do they put as much consideration into addressing the issue of bullying?

They should.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a presentation by leading bullying expert Dr. Michele Borba. She outlined the epidemic of bullying affecting children today and shared the keys to successfully addressing the issue. Here’s a hint; you’re one of them.

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It behooves us to discuss this issue with our children, beginning when they are very young. Many times parents avoid certain topics because we don’t know what to say. Or we’re afraid we won’t say the right things. But talking about bullying doesn’t have to be hard.

Dr. Borba recommends a number of age-appropriate books and movies you can use to get the conversation started and keep it going as your child grows. Here are just a few (in order by age from youngest to oldest):


Hooway for Wodney Wat

The Juice Box Bully           

For The Birds*
Don’t Laugh At Me

The Ant Bully
The Meanest Thing To Say

Mean Girls
Fat, Fat Rose Marie

Lord of the Flies
True Confessions of a Former Bully

Out In The Silence

Breakfast Club
Odd Girl Out


These books and movies can help your child develop the skills she needs to avoid being victim and bully, as well as how to deal with situations she will likely encounter in her day-to-day life.

They can also provide you a starting point for discussing this important topic. Overall, when talking to your kids, Dr. Borba says it is important to use the word “bullying” and define what it is – a pattern of behavior with negative intent, deliberate and intentional.

You want to share the message with your child, loud and clear, that no one deserves to be bullied. Help your child understand how best to respond if it happens. And establish yourself as a go to person should your child ever face or witness bullying behavior.

Once you open the lines of communication, you may find your child has a lot to say. Listen carefully. Dr. Borba says it is important not to dismiss or to judge, and to be calm.

It can be intimidating to discuss any tough topic with your kids. But thinking about what you want to say in advance and having helpful tools at your disposal can make it easier. Dr. Borba’s website has many wonderful resources, including more book and movie suggestions.

Adults are essential to stopping bullying behavior. So read, watch and start the conversation with your kids today!

* An animated short that appeared before the movie Monsters, Inc.

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