Teasing. Taunting. Terrorizing online. We know by now that bullying is bigger than just being "mean." We know that it can lead to a hatred of school, a hatred of oneself, and even fatalities. As parents, we try to connect with our kids, but give them their space. We hope that being teased or "picked on" is just a part of growing up. But we often don't know how bad it really is. How relentless.
Care.com knows it takes a village to raise a child. As an online resource matching families with child care givers we feel there is an extra advantage to having a nanny or beloved babysitter in your child's life - they can bond with children differently.
Because bullying will affect 13 million kids this year, we have compiled these 6 tips for parents to more effectively use their babysitters to banish bullying:
1. Use their Eyes and Ears
Your nanny will likely be the one picking your child up from school or soccer practice, and greeting him at his most talkative point in the day. Be sure that she stays alert to his social interactions and mood. She can also use her nanny network to learn what the other child care providers know.
2. Hire a Role Model
When interviewing a nanny, hire someone with similar interests as your child. Consider the gender, athleticism, similar personal challenges. Think of this person as a mentor and friend who can boost her confidence and teach her to shrug off the nasty people in her life.
3. Tap into their Social Networks
Your child might restrict you on Facebook, but give his babysitter full access. If you think something is up, ask a social-savvy sitter to search for how your child might be talked about online. Here's how to learn more about being a plugged-in parent.
4. Find New Friends
Work with your after-school sitter to set up activities and playgroups outside of town. Consider out-of-the-norm extra-curriculars that can allow your child to thrive in new ways.
5. Create a plan together
Sit down with your nanny and child (no matter what age) and decide how to confront the bullying together. It's important to let her know she has control -- and allies.
6. Teach Kindness
Prevent bullying by raising a kind kid. Teach your child to befriend the new student, to speak up to bullies, to stand up for those being taunted. Make sure this is the goal of everyone caring for your child.
Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite.