Kids need to be taught the skills needed to address violated expectations, broken promises and bad behavior.
It’s the job of parents – to teach them these skills.
This shouldn’t intimidate you and you shouldn’t schedule – A Talk. Or THE Talk. Instead, have frank conversations in small doses.
Learning is best done in a repetitive way. A one time conversation will be forgotten. Repetition helps with retention.
One Lesson At a Time
When something happens and it crosses your mind, mention it. Think about the one thing you want your child to learn from whatever this is. It is really tempting to tell them everything you know. I am guilty of this. But kids will absorb the lesson better, if you focus on one thing at a time.
Keep it short and simple
If you drone on and on, kids will a) get bored and b) decide that the last thing they want to elicit by asking a question – is a lecture. If you keep things short, you can offer the correction and lesson and move on. Kids will be more likely to remember the lesson. But more importantly – they won’t dread a lecture – if the lecture never happens.
The key to teaching kids social skills is to focus on one thing at a time, keep it short and repeat it whenever appropriate.
Applying this to bullying and harassment situations
This is especially true if you are teaching a child how to deal with another kid who is bullying or harassing them.
The skills on how to deal with this are fairly easily taught – but the lessons have to be repeated. Not to the point your kid doesn’t want to discuss it anymore. Just – short quick – reminders. And let it go and let the kid think of more pleasant things.
Then – a week later, or if they bring it up – repeat – and encourage and let it go to think of more positive things.
I used to train dolphins and we would use this technique when training up a new behavior. We would work on it for a short bit, positively reinforce them for the effort, then switch to something they were already good at.
The temptation to keep pushing when they get it right is REALLY strong, but resist the urge. Get the lesson in and then redirect to something more pleasant. If they want more – you can give them more but the redirection and then repetition at a later time, is what trainers do to get the behaviors we want.