By guest blogger Amy Williams, providing a mother’s perspective on parenting concerns.
As a parent, one of the hardest things to watch is a child suffer from bullying and depression. As caregivers, we want to be the ones to swoop in and make everything better. Unfortunately, when it comes to these far too common issues, we can’t simply give them a bandaid and a kiss. This dilemma can leave us feeling helpless and confused, because we have no power to make things better. Thankfully, we aren’t completely helpless. With a little planning and thinking outside of the box, there are a few creative ways to prevent bullying and depression in kids.
To help us on this parenting journey, please scroll through the following list of ways to prevent bullying and depression in children:
Nurture a New Interest
We all know bullying can be traumatic and often isolates a child. We can help our children overcome feeling alone by getting them involved in extracurricular activities away from the bully. Join an afterschool program, scout troop, sport team, hobby club at the local library, religious class, or find a gaming group that appeals to your child. The opportunities are limitless and finding a new activity can allow a child to forge new friendships, learn new skills, ignite a passion, and reclaim their confidence.
Help Develop Grit
We all want our children to succeed in life and research is finding that book learning is important, but a child’s grit might be the secret to thriving in life. Grit is a person’s ability to persevere and overcome adversity. Unfortunately, most of our boys and girls aren’t born with this trait. Grit takes years to develop, but some factors like not giving up, positive self-talk, and believing in one’s self can be taught. We owe it to our kids to help them learn how to handle obstacles in life and keep putting one foot in front of the other by modeling grit in front of our kids. Instead of focusing on the problems, help them find a solution.
Build Them Up
As a parent, we have the unique opportunity to build our sons and daughters up with words of encouragement, praise, and understanding. If you know a child is being targeted or feeling down, look for simple and meaningful ways to boost their confidence when praise is due. The key to this tactic, however, is to not overdo the praise and make it relevant. For instance, if a child colored a picture, don’t tell them “good job”. Take a minute to let them know you noticed they stayed in the lines and used a variety of colors.
Get the kids outside and grow a garden. Besides providing delicious and healthy foods, gardening offers our kids a variety of benefits that include improved moods and decreased anxiety. Tending plants is also a great way to get kids to disconnect from their electronics and find meaningful ways to interact with their families. As we cultivate our favorite veggies, we are teaching our sons and daughters team building skills, communication techniques, responsibility, and developing their sense of purpose.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
One easy way to help our kids and teens fight off depression and cope with bullying is to embrace pet therapy. We have known for years that pets benefit people in some amazing ways, but they can be especially helpful when dealing with depression and coping with bullying. While it’s not realistic to go and bring home a pet, we can give back to the community and volunteer at local animal shelters. Kids can benefit from the unconditional love and support of a four legged pal while walking, playing, or feeding animals who need a little TLC. This will help kids develop a sense of caring for others while getting in a little snuggle therapy.
Harness the Power of Literature
Find books that address bullying, depression, and emotions to read together. Many of today’s stories and novels offer kids opportunities to explore these difficult topics from the safety of our homes. Use literature to give concrete examples of situations and reactions to help kids develop appropriate coping skills for tough feelings.
Spend Time Together
Make it a priority to do activities with your child. Play video games, go outside for a walk, or bake cookies together. Our main priority should be showing our kids that they are important while helping them boost their self-confidence in the process. This allows our sons and daughters to develop confidence from their achievements, which is a natural deterrent to bullying and depression. As an added bonus, we get to make precious memories with them in the process!
What creative ways do you use to prevent bullying and depression in kids?
Amy Williams is a journalist and concerned parent who loves spreading the word on children’s health and development and education. You can follow her on Twitter @AmyKWilliams1