People often ask me what resources we used to teach our kids about friendship and healthy boundaries. In honor of National Anti-Bullying Month, I’ve listed my top three favorites below. What do you use? I’d love to hear it too.
Recognize their strengths and plan to enhance them
In addition to protecting your child, find ways to encourage their unique traits. One of my favorite books, Five Love Languages for Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, (there’s also one for teens) helps you diagnose what your child’s way of feeling loved is and what actions or words will help the most when they’ve had a rough time.
Begin teaching about safe friendships
When you take something harmful away, you need to replace it with something positive and solid. There are many books for helping your children understand friendship, but a favorite is Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (actually this is for adults but you can adapt it’s principles). We also really liked the video series Stranger Safety by John Walsh and Julie Clark, for it’s levels of knowing people, and silly, attention-grabbing format.
Anticipate the weirdness of puberty, plan for it
Now that we’re in puberty, I’ve taught my kids not to stay stuck in one group of kids, but seek friends in many groups. If one’s making bad decisions, give them the space to sort it out and they won’t feel ostracized if they have a larger group from which to select buddies. It’s likely they’ll come back after the first blush of weirdness over girls vs. guys, and time is the best meter for how they’ll grow as a friend.
Create (or join) a re-defined group dynamic
If your kids are trying to stand on their own for good things like honesty, good study habits, and less distractions from issues well beyond their years (pornography, obsessiveness with girls/boys, other things), encourage it by forming a peer group that does fun activities together. They build memories in a positive context, with a little bit of guidance, and a lot of good intentions from the families involved. In high school, there are great groups the kids can join that are faith-based like Cru. It gives them a common focus on something larger than themselves during those critical years.
What do you have in your community to help young and older kids? I’d love to know what resources have helped your family in the comments below, too. #NationalAntiBullyingMonth #Bullying