Whether it’s starting rumours that whip around the playground, name calling or physically pushing you around for fun it’s called bullying and it’s infesting our schools and playgrounds. And whether it’s the bully or the one being bullied it’s a behaviour that will influence our children’s development for years to come.
Although children are told to report any bullying to a nearby adult, this doesn’t always have the outcome we would hope for; namely, stopping the behaviour from occurring again. The struggle for parents and teachers to stamp out this abhorrent behaviour is real and takes more than a zero tolerance policy. It takes active behavioural adjustment activities and continual support from family, friends and the community at large to combat bullying.
Enrolling children in activities that change the dynamics in their peer groups can have a strong impact. By introducing them to a different peer group they can experience different friendships outside of the bullying relationship at school. Starting an activity that makes the child feel good about themselves is also key. For the bullied this can build their confidence and for bullies this can channel their behaviour into positive channels e.g. leadership. Any kind of physical exercise can be a mood lifter and help children focus on positive feelings.
Programs like In The Mix offer sessions in hundreds of schools across the GTA and support the above goals. The combination of exercise with activity roles and inclusive behaviour allow children to have fun in a safe place, make new friends, and interact in a structured yet creative activity. This is an excellent way to reduce negative interaction. Ask your school or community centre what programs are available for your child to participate in and look for programs, like In The Mix, that promote inclusivity.
Beyond after school activities, parents can make sure communication is open and easy. Ask your children about their day, who they played with, what they did. Set a good example for your children and be aware of any aggressive behaviour your child may witness – yours or others – kids learn from watching. Praise inclusive behaviour and encourage positive friendships.
Using technology and our own app, In The Mix Programs teaches HipHop dance and Yoga to children in local schools, community centres, camps and charities. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada we work with children of all ages in a fin, relaxed environment to aide in their development of various social and team building skills. Visit http://www.inthemixprogram.com/ for more information.