When it comes to youth sports bullying can become a serious problem. Types of bullying can vary greatly from verbal bullying like name calling or threats to physical bullying that includes making rude gestures, hitting, slapping or stealing. Regardless of the form bullying has no place in sports as it takes a terrible emotional and physical effect on young athletes.
1. Forewarned is Forearmed
To prevent an athlete of being a victim or a bully parents should take a proactive role in reducing of bullying. Teach your child to to recognize bullying and its forms and react properly in difficult situations. Athletes who are well-informed about bullying, which means they know what bullying is, why it’s dangerous and destructive, what to do if they are target of bullies and what to do if they are witness to bullying, will be able to deal with it when they need to.
2. What’s Your Child’s Attitude to Bullying?
Ask your athlete such questions as “How do you understand bullying? What does it feel to be bullied? Do you ever see kids on our team being bullied? How does it make you feel?” Answers to these questions will help you to understand your child’s attitude to problem and determine the direction to move on.
3. Who Is the Typical Bully?
Many bullies think highly of themselves and often expect everyone to behave according to their wishes. When it comes to youth sports bullies are athletes who have social power and like to dominate or being looked up to. Athletes who bully are often not taught to think about how their actions make other people feel. Some athletes are both bullies and victims - they may have been bullied and then lash out at others.
4. It’s All About Self-Esteem
Children who are somehow different from their teammates (e.g. if they are overweight, smaller than others or wear glasses) are at greater risk of being bullied. But the difference from others is not the most significant risk factor. Children who differ from their peers but have adequate self-esteem and demonstrate self-confidence and good social skills almost never get into serious bullying issues.
5. Teach Your Athlete How to Stand Up Bullies
The main thing you have to put into your athlete’s is that he should always speak to the coach, or other related staff and parents if they are bullied or see their teammates being bullied. Adults might be able to make the situation more comfortable even if they can not immediately solve the problem.
Give your child some tips on how to stand up bullies, such as:
6. Encourage your athlete to help his teammates who are bullied which can involve:
- Avoid the situations when bullying occurs.
- Stay near coaches to minimize the possibility of bullying.
- Ask bully to stop in a calm voice while looking him him straight in the eye.
- Humor and witty answers can knock off a bully.
- In situations when it’s hard or dangerous to speak, the best is to walk away and to walk to the coach or other related staff.
- Tell the coach about the problem and discuss together how to stop bullying.
7. Be a Positive Role Model
- Letting the bully know that such behavior will be reported to the coach.
- Creating distracting situations, changing focus of the discussion.
- Helping a teammate being bullied to walk away.
- Finding an opportunity to tell the coach about what’s going on.
- Show support to the bullied athlete letting them know they are not alone.
Parents can play a central role to preventing bullying at sport. Being a positive role model to your athlete plays a great role in preventing him from being bullied or being a bully. Don't bully your children or bully others in front of them. Many times kids who are bullied at home react by bullying other kids. If your children see you hit, ridicule, or gossip about someone else, they are also more likely to do so themselves. Teach kids to solve problems without using violence and praise them when they do. Give children positive feedback when they behave well to help them build self-esteem. Help give them the self-confidence to stand up for what they believe in. Ask your children about their day and listen to them talk about school, social events, their classmates, and any problems they have. Encourage your child to help others who need it. By following these simple recommendations, you are likely to raise an honest self-confident, kind, generous and responsive person who is responsible for his words and deeds, able to stand up for himself and protect others from bullying.