4 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Youth Sports

Learn the Risk Factors

While anyone can take part in bullying, studies indicate that the instigators often share common risk factors. Although children are encouraged to make friends and form peer groups, kids who have a tendency to exclude others are more likely to isolate and ignore victims in a negative way.

Coaches may not have the knowledge and experience needed to identify bullying behaviors, but parents can often spot the signs. Bullies may make frequent negative comments about others or use aggression and violence to solve their problems, and some bullies may have temper issues.

Bullying often originates at home. Children with mean or abusive parents or siblings may treat their peers in the same way. To prevent this behavior, it's critical that parents set a positive example at home.

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Encourage Open Communication

It's not always easy to prevent bullying because some of the behaviors are natural human tendencies. Numerous assessments have shown that bullies gain support from peers who simply go along with their actions.

Parents and guardians need to be proactive and address these behaviors before they escalate or get out of hand. Children who are bullied often feel that they can't talk to anyone about their situation, so make sure to encourage open and honest communication with your kids.

Being proactive also gives adults a chance to teach children how to respond to bullying. Bullies lose strength when they don't have support from their peer group. Many of the negative effects of bullying can be mitigated if children refuse to participate. It's best to instill a sense of right and wrong and implement zero-tolerance rules around unacceptable conduct, this will also motivate your child to stand up against bad behavior.

Give Kids Better Options

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, you can teach him or her how to confront a bully through open communication. In some cases, simply asking an offender to stop is an effective way to put an end to their behavior.

Finally, one of the best ways to deal with bullying is to help kids discover healthy alternatives. Coaches who teach kids to work together by rewarding them for positive performance in group-based activities can unify teams and reduce negative incidents. Coaches and parents can help children overcome bullying by working together to discourage ongoing teasing and establishing a culture of cooperation.

More: How to Help Kids Develop Basic Athletic Skills

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