Going Back to school doesn't have to be scary for our kids

Over the years, we have read, experienced or have heard about reports of bullying in our school systems. It wasn't so long ago that Mlive reported that...

Michigan  has the third highest percentage of high school student who say they've been bullied on school property and fifth highest percentage of students bullied online. In January 2015, Michigan added cyber bullying to the state anti-bullying law.

Since that report in 21015, our state has had an improvement in bullying incidents, but it's not behind us yet.

With a new school year gearing up to kick off, it's a great time to prepare your kids for success which includes keeping themselves safe from bullies. Henry Ford Health System, but together a simple but insightful list for any family.

  1. Build their self-esteem. Children who have a healthy self-image are less likely to be a bully or a target.
  2. Start talking… Tell your child what bullying is and explain it’s unacceptable. Most important, be sure your child knows he should speak to a trusted adult if he is bullied or see someone else being bullied.
  3. …and listening. Check in with your child daily. Ask about her joys, fears and experiences. Ask about school. Listen to her concerns. Get to know your children’s friends. And don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.
  4. Model kind and respectful behavior. Kids learn how to behave by watching you. From the time kids are old enough to communicate (even non-verbally), they are learning how to treat others. Give your child a high five or thumbs up, greet him with a hug and teach him how to manage big emotions in safe and effective ways.
  5. Discuss strategies to stay safe. If your child admits to being bullied, take it seriously. Reassure her that you will find a solution together—one that doesn’t involve violence or injury. Instead of teaching children to fight back, encourage them to firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop then walk away. Help her identify a buddy she can turn to when bullies are around. And if the situation is occurring at school, inform the teacher, principal or school counselor. Most schools have anti-bullying programs in place to help victims.

At the end of the day, just let your kids know how truly loved they are.