Teach Your Child to Be an Upstander

As a teacher, as a mom, and as a child myself – I have had to deal with bullies. Dealing with a bully is no fun for anyone. While all kids, and adults for that matter, will and do have disagreements and fights from time to time. Those incidents are often resolved and the parties involved move on. Bullying is the repetitive targeting of a person, and it is the nature of the repetition that causes the harm.

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I was really surprised to hear that one study has shown that adolescents who are bullied by their peers actually suffer from worse long-term mental health issues than children who are physically, emotionally or sexually abused by their parents or are exposed to severely inadequate parenting. That is scary!

As a teacher, I teach my students to be upstanders. I tell them that, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!” They initially do not like hearing that. But after conversations, they come to realize that it is the truth. Standing by and watching an injustice take place and not stepping in to help is allowing the bully to do their bidding.

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As parents it is important to be there to help our children deal with bullies and likewise it is important to recognize if our child is the bully. No one wants to believe that their child could be causing someone else pain, but if you are hearing bits and pieces through the grapevine about your child, you need to take note and have conversations.

I was able to chat with Dr. Colleen Logan about harmful bullying behavior but more importantly, how to help combat it.

I found it very interesting to note that the stereotypical idea that the popular kids are often the bullies is wrong. Rather popular kids are now standing up to the bullies and this gives a real strength to being an upstander. When a child with social clout stands up, the bullying often stops in as short of time as 10 seconds.

With 1/3 of all youth reporting being bullied at sometime – we all need to take note.

school loner

Dr. Colleen Logan, past president of the American Counseling Association and Program Director of the Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling at Walden University talks about how bullies pick their targets, the warning signs of bullying, the long-term effects of bullying and how we can encourage more people to stand up to bullying.

Take a moment to listen to our conversation…

Teach Your Child to Be an Upstander

It’s important to talk with your child about how to be an upstander. It can be scary to watch another person being attacked verbally, physically, socially, or online. Kids often do not know what to do. Below are a few ways to be an upstander.

  • Don’t laugh.
  • Don’t encourage the bully in any way.
  • Say something – Tell them that’s not ok. Encourage your child to use his/her voice.
  • If it is physical, keep a safe distance and help the victim get away. Do not jump into the mix. Go get an adult.
  • Reach out in friendship.
  • Help the victim in any way you can.
  • Be supportive of the victim.
  • When you see someone alone, invite them to join you.
  • Tell an adult.

Being an upstander is a two part process. One, do not encourage the bully by being an audience, and two, actively include the target into your activities. Simply sitting with someone at lunch can make all the difference in the world. Help your child find their voice and take appropriate action. Role playing is very helpful in giving kids the confidence they need.

You may have heard the story of Travis Rudolph, a Florida State football player, who was visiting a middle school one day walking the cafeteria with his teammates doing a meet and great. That was when Travis who had just grabbed some pizza noticed one boy sitting by himself. Travis asked if he could join him and the boy responded, “Why not?” The two struck up a conversation as they ate. A photo was snapped by another parent and the picture was sent to the boy’s mom. The mom shared the photo with her emotional and personal story, and it has since gone viral. Here is the story from Complex News.

There is strength in numbers. Teach your child how to make a positive difference. Every school and every community has more caring kids than bullies.

Going to school

To learn more about how to be an upstander visit: www.waldenu.edu/bullyprevention

Thank you to Walden University for providing me this interview opportunity.

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38 Replies to “Teach Your Child to Be an Upstander”

  1. CourtneyLynne says: Reply

    I love this and the message this campaign carries!!! It is so important to teach our kids how to act. I have a daughter with a speech delay so I always worry about her in school since not all kids are taught to be nice to others.

    1. Hopefully your daughter has some good friends to stand by her side and be upstanders along side her.

  2. Great article! So many adults and schools have the attitude, “Kids will be kids”, and don’t try to stop bullying. I say, “Since when is bullying an acceptable action of a child”? I think anti-bullying courses should be mandatory in schools, it would help a lot in my opinion.

    1. There are many great anti-bullying programs out there. Unfortunately many schools don’t feel like they have the time. In the long run – it is the best investment we can make with our children.

  3. I love this concept, especially in an time where bullying seems to have grown. It is important to encourage your children to stand up for themselves and others, and not be ashamed to do so.

    1. Yes, I agree. The media makes it harder at times.

  4. I always speechless every time I read news about kids suffer or even worse because they can’t survive of bullying. This is how terrible bullying is! Teaching the kids to be the outstander is important. Love this post!

    1. Thanks! yes, bullying can have some very serious and grave consequences. No child should ever have to go through that.

  5. This is such a wonderful post. I have seen bullying up close and personal and I’m an advocate for anything to cause awareness. It starts early – it’s heart wrenching to see my 6 year old granddaughter cry because the girls won’t let her play with them.

    1. Ohhh – that would be hard. Unfortunately meanness can start early 🙁

  6. Christina Aliperti says: Reply

    This is a great post! We have to teach our children to be upstanders. We have to give them the skills they need to overcome these obstacles.

    1. Thanks! Growing up can be so hard sometimes!

  7. Bullying is awful. As a kid, it is hard to stand up for someone if you know that means the bullying will fall on you, too. I figure the best process is to ignore the bully. If they don’t get attention, eventually they’ll stop doing it.

    1. Bullying is often about power. If the bully does not get power – they sometimes will move on.

  8. I was bullied as a child, it was a nasty process. It was more verbal than anything but kids can be so cruel. This taught me to be an upstander and not let anyone else get hurt in the way that I did.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that you had to endure bullying as a child. I am glad that you turned this around into standing up for others.

  9. This is wonderful information, and I agree it is important to stand up to to bullies. It is important for kids to take back this experience for themselves. This is a life lesson, parents should give their children the tools, but not solve the problem for them. Let the kids handle it and handle themselves! They need to know how!

    1. Like you said the kids need the tools! It can be very hard and scary for a child to stand up to a bully. Sometimes adult intervention is necessary as bullying can get very ugly in some instances.

  10. This is SO important. As an former educator, too many kids stand by and let bullying and other terrible acts happen to their classmates. They agree it’s wrong, but do nothing. We have to educate our youth to be brave and stand up!

    1. Yes! It is hard to stand up sometimes. Giving the kids the tools and words to speak up is important.

  11. Like everything else, bullying or not bullying starts at home. We should always make sure that we teach them compassion and kindness towards others. I think this is a great message, teach our kids to be upstanders.

    1. Thanks! Teaching empathy is important.

  12. We were just discussing at the breakfast table today what to do if you see someone else getting bullied. I am grateful our school’s motto is Kindness Always.

    1. Love that you are having the conversations! Kids need lots of encouragement. It is not always easy to be an upstander.

  13. Bullying is horrible. As parents, it is our role to teach our kids to be an upstander. They should be able to stand up to what is right.

    1. I agree! It breaks my heart to see kids bully and hurt another child.

  14. I like this, a lot! I want my children to stand up for what they believe in especially when I am not around!!

    1. That is the best! Knowing that we have raised our kids to do what is right.

  15. I love What you are teaching the kids, it’s a powerful message and simple way for them to look at things from a different perspective.

    1. Thank you!

  16. It just takes that one brave (and kind) soul to get things going. And you’re right – the numbers can help. Be an upstander. I see many kids do this and I also see how strong they are and how confident they are. Inspiring to me…and to their peers.

    1. It does build confidence when kids stand up! Here’s to all the upstanders out there making a difference!

  17. These are such great tips. I have to say that our children have a tough time right now. So many adults are not acting properly, so how can our kids?

    1. Not the best role models in the press these days. That is for sure!! So sad.

  18. This is so important! and definitely something I am aiming to teach my kids to be an upstander and stand up for what is right and what they believe in!

    1. Yes, we need to empower all children to be upstanders.

  19. I love this. I love this enough to share it with all my school principal friends on their Facebook page. Fantastic information that is important for everyone.

    1. Terri, thanks so much for sharing!

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