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Three essential life skills to protect children

Stop bullies, essential skills to protect children

Bullying is a topic of concern for many parents and very stressful for anyone experiencing it.

No one wants their children to be bullied, and we can feel powerless to help them.

Although we can't change other people's behaviour, we can proactively help our children by giving them the life skills they need to protect themselves from harm.

This blog looks at three of those essential skills, teaching self-love, not taking things personally & assertiveness skills.

Blowing out someone else's candle doesn't make yours shine brighter.

WHAT IS bullying

Bullying is when someone or a group mistreats, dominates, or frightens someone else who is weaker than them. 

Bullying can be physical aggression, verbal abuse, or cyberbullying through digital platforms.

Physical bullying is probably the more obvious form of bullying because you can see it, and it leaves marks or broken bones. It includes hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, or damaging someone's belongings. It leaves physical pain and hidden psychological damage.

Verbal bullying is when vicious, nasty words can be said to make the other person feel bad. They might use gaslighting, which is a manipulative tactic used to confuse the other person by not being truthful. They might use more obvious insults, derogatory remarks, name-calling, shouting, criticism, humiliation, lying, mocking, belittling, or using threats. 

Verbal abuse is harder to detect because it is internalised and can profoundly affect a child's self-esteem, emotional well-being, and mental health. 

Cyberbullying means our children can be attached any time of the day or night. Bullies can send hurtful messages, spread rumours, and share embarrassing or manipulated photos or videos on social media, text messaging, and in online gaming communities. 

The consequences of cyberbullying can be severe, leading to emotional distress, social isolation, and detrimental effects on mental health. 

Bullying doesn't just happen at school. It can happen within families in the community and workplace.

The more we can help protect them, the better.

SIGNS OF bullying

We need to be mindful to look for signs of bullying because children may be too scared to tell us. While there isn't a single definitive sign, here are some red flags to watch out for. 

- Loosing or damaged belongings. 

- Unexplained physical injuries like bruises. 

- Reluctance to go to school, frequently complains of being unwell in the mornings or starts skipping school altogether. 

- A decline in their academic performance. 

- Asking for or stealing money, as they may be coerced into giving it to their bullies. 

- Changes in their behaviour, such as increased nervousness, a loss of confidence, or becoming distressed and withdrawn. 

- Problems with eating or sleeping.

- Lastly, be aware if your child starts displaying bullying behaviours towards others, as it might indicate that they are being influenced or trying to regain control. 

Three essential LIFE skills to 
PROTECT children


Teaching children about self-love is a powerful defence against bullying and abuse and reduces their chances of being targeted.

When children love themselves, they have high regard for themselves and their well-being and happiness. They learn to be kind, compassionate and caring to themselves and not just those around them.

They will look for healthy relationships and leave unhealthy ones. They won't tolerate bullies and will speak up for themselves. They have boundaries, self-respect and confidence.

Children who learn to love themselves are more likely to be happy and resilient. 

Self-love is not simply innate; it must be nurtured and developed by showing children how we love them and treating them with respect and kindness. 

We can encourage self-love with positive self-talk and affirmations, celebrate their strengths and accomplishments, emphasise their uniqueness and individuality, and teach them to embrace their flaws and imperfections. 

Most of all, children will learn best by example, so showing them how to love and care for themselves by doing it ourselves is key to setting them up for a life of self-love.


Don't take it personally

As parents, it is our responsibility to guide our children through the ups and downs of life, teaching them that the words and actions of others are not a reflection of their worth. 

Children need to know that a bully's behaviour is a reflection of the bully, not of the person being bullied. When they understand this, they will be less likely to internalise every criticism or negative comment and develop resilience and a strong sense of self instead.

For example, when my daughter was very young, she came home from school saying some girls were being mean and would not let her play with them. My response was to ask her what she had done to make them not want to play with her. I cringe to this day that I said that and implied it was all her fault. 

If I had been more confident, didn't take everything personally, kind of mum, my response may have been more like: "Oh, that's a shame. It makes you feel rotten when friends won't let you play. The best thing to do is not take it personally and find someone else who will."

By teaching them not to take things personally, we give children strength in their own self-worth.


Teach assertiveness

Keeping children safe from bullies starts at home. 

When home isn't a safe, secure, loving environment and conflict is common, children normalise and tolerate it.
They become a target for bullies who sense their weaknesses.

As parents, we need to take a step back to look at what we teach our children through our actions.

For example, a girl whose father or mother is verbally or physically abusive sets her up as a victim. A parent who shows her respect and love and how to be assertive teaches self-respect and self-love, and she will be more able to create healthy relationships and protect herself from bullies.

You can naturally teach children assertiveness by being assertive yourself. We need to normalise healthy boundaries and respect for each other. Use positive parenting techniques such as assertive communication, asking for what they want and problem solving skills. 

Encourage children to talk about how they feel and not to hide it away for fear of being told off, so they are more likely to speak up if they are bullied.

When children grow up in an environment where they are encouraged to be assertive, they will have skills that will set them up for life.

By creating an environment that fosters self-love, assertiveness, and not taking everything personally, we empower our children to navigate life with confidence and resilience. 

Children will grow to understand their worth, embrace who they are, and cultivate a positive self-image that will serve as their armour to protect against bullies and the challenges they may face.

All the best 

Ruth Edensor

If you have any questions or would like to reach out to me, feel free to contact me at any time.

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