In order to counter bullying, your child needs strong self-esteem and a good support network. They also need to develop social and emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness and an increased ability to notice and manage their thoughts and emotions. Developing social intelligence involves increasing their sensitivity to how others feel, and their capacity to nurture and navigate relationships.
How to build social and emotional intelligence
You can help your child learn the skills of emotional intelligence by:
- Reducing negative emotions, by helping them reframe a situation to see a broader perspective, and avoid jumping to a negative conclusion right away.
- Helping them be assertive and express difficult emotions, without being difficult. A good approach to teach them is the XYZ technique. That is, ‘I feel X when you do Y in situation Z’. This avoids starting with ‘You’, which can incite defensiveness and make the recipient less open to hearing what they have to say.
- Help your child learn how to stay cool in challenging situations and manage stress.
You can help your child learn skills of social intelligence and empathy (being able to sense and understand the feelings / emotions of others) by:
- Talking openly and regularly about feelings in real-life situations or examples in television shows, movies etc.
- Ask your child what they notice, and what they believe people are feeling based on their facial expressions, their body language and tone of voice.
- Putting labels on the feelings of others will help them think about, notice and understand others in day-to-day life.
- Giving your full attention to your child. This will model the behaviours of genuinely engaging and connecting with others. Really tune in, and listen.
Teenagers that get along well with others are often those that can express their emotions in appropriate ways, maintain control over themselves and their behaviours towards others, and who can demonstrate self-awareness. These qualities will also help them to understand and respond to bullying more constructively, and help them develop networks of friends that will give them social support.