Prevent Bullying: Social Skills and Self-Esteem


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    By: ActivityTree

    I could not have been more shocked when my second-grade daughter faced bullying at school this year.  Unfortunately, I was also unprepared.  I hadn’t familiarized myself with the components of the school’s anti-bullying program and I didn’t know what I could do to help prevent incidents in the future.   I did some research and learned that helping my daughter avoid the unwanted attention of bullies was easier than I thought.

    Bullying is present in nearly every school in America despite a concerted effort in prevention. It even finds its way onto park playgrounds, community center courts and sports fields. We can’t be with our children 24/7 to protect them from bullying.  Instead, experts advise parents to support the development of their child’s social skills and self-esteem.   Children who feel like they fit it and have higher self esteem are less likely to be the victims of bullying.  They are also more likely to aid others by reporting unacceptable behavior and standing with the victims of bullying. 

    So, how can we help our children gain these valuable skills?  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services encourages parents to help children find an activity they enjoy, and watch the skills grow naturally.  As your child participates in an activity and gains new skills he builds confidence in himself and his abilities.  He will also find it easier to build social skills and relationships as he spends time with other children who share his passion. 

    Now the big question: what activity should you choose?  It’s advised that you let your child lead the way.  Ask her what kinds of activities interest her.  Not every child is the next star athlete.  And, forcing a child into activities that are not a good fit can leave her feeling less confident and perhaps increase the likelihood she will be the victim of bullying.   Here are just a few activity options to consider with your child.

    Does your child enjoy individual competition and need a little help directing his energies?  Consider martial arts. Martial arts programs of all formats – karate, judo, jiu Jitsu, taekwondo, aikido, hapkido, kung fu – emphasize respect for peers and authority, discipline and patience.  These help to reinforce the structure and rules you have in your home or at your child’s school and also help your child to develop healthy relationships with peers, parents and teachers.  Plus, the achievement of leveling up in the belt system is a huge confidence builder.   Many martial arts providers, including the American Taekwondo Association (ATA), are even spearheading a direct line of defense against bullying by offering specialty workshops and classes that focus specifically on the prevention of bullying.

    If your child enjoys sports and thrives in a team atmosphere, organized team sports like soccer, basketball, baseball, softball or hockey offer your child the opportunity to build a sense of community and confidence. As children practice their confidence grows along with their skill set. Those little personal “wins” like their first hit are worth their weight in gold when it comes to self-esteem.  In addition, you child will quickly begin to associate themselves with a larger group and establish friendships that can extend beyond the field or court.

    Does your child prefer to express herself creatively? Art, music and drama programs offer many children the opportunity to step out of their shell.  Watch your child’s confidence soar when he displays his first masterpiece or performs his first solo.  Even though not every child needs or wants to be the star, being a small part of a larger performance can provide the same sense of accomplishment, while managing fears and building friendships.

    Want to learn more about step parents can take to prevent bullying?  Visit

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