8 ways to help cultivate bully-free behaviour from birth

I wholeheartedly believe that mums are the key to cultivating positive change in our community. During my first year of teaching back in 2002, it became crystal clear to me the power mums held in the way their children managed bully-type situations. Below I share some tips on how mums can help their children build up their wellbeing toolkit from birth.


I wholeheartedly believe that mums are the key to cultivating positive change in our community. The primary reason I started my business The Wellbeing Web was to help make the world a better place for children and parents. As a teacher in the classroom, I knew I could only do so much, however, I had a deep desire to share my teaching insights to help create positive change on a greater scale. I do this now as a wellbeing coach by talking directly with mums, as I believe all mums have the power to positively change the world, especially when it comes to bullying.


What Is Bullying?

“Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological aggressive behaviour by a person or group directed towards a less powerful person or group that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear”. – www.education.vic.gov.au


“One in four young people are bullied every fortnight or more often” (Alannah and Madeline Foundation website). To me, this statistic is of great concern to our communities and country as a whole.

During my first year of teaching back in 2002, it became crystal clear to me the power mums held in the way their children managed bully-type situations. While teachers help to manage it at school, mums can help their children build up their wellbeing toolkit from birth. When a mum decides to prioritise and strengthen her child’s social, emotional and mental wellbeing through conscious attention to her own social, emotional and mental wellbeing we will see a significant positive shift in the way we approach bullying in our society.

Without a doubt, mums have the most challenging (and rewarding) role in the world. Being a mum is such a special role but is often undervalued in our community. I truly believe that each and every mum is amazing and she always does the very best she can do at any given time. That being said, one area where I feel mums need extra support is with the building up of their everyday wellbeing-toolkit. Doing so is a brilliant way to help cultivate a positive mindset which helps create a bully-free home environment, which therefore contributes to a bully-free community.

When mums prioritise their wellbeing they learn to effectively manage and monitor how they feel on a daily basis. By creating a strong wellbeing platform, not only do they feel better, but they also become better equipped to effectively teach their children how to nurture their wellbeing, too.

How does a mum’s wellbeing-toolkit help cultivate bully-free behaviours?

When a mum feels exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed, her wellbeing is low. When a mum’s wellbeing is low she might be more likely to engage in negative behaviour. However, when a mum realises her wellbeing is low, this is cause for celebration as she’ll become aware she needs a little wellbeing boost. With awareness comes clarity and with clarity you can take wellbeing action. Being aware that your wellbeing is low is the perfect wellbeing wake-up sign. For example, when a mum reaches the point where she feels the need to criticise or yell at her partner, it’s a wonderful opportunity to stop, pause and reflect on her personal wellbeing. This is not about being perfect but more about being mindful about our actions. We all have bad days but it’s what we do consistently that has the greatest impact.

I believe that children are not born with bullying type behaviours but instead, learn them. Children absorb and mimic the behaviours that they see, hear and experience from the day they are born. In turn, if they witness bully-type behaviour regularly at home they are likely to conclude that this is acceptable behaviour when interacting with others. These precious little human beings weren’t born into this world with prejudice and bias towards particular races, genders, religions or sexual orientation, they absorb them from their environment and from their role-models.


Below are 8 ways to help create a bully-free community

1. Value your wellbeing.

Decide to make your wellbeing a priority. Monitor and manage how you feel on a daily basis by knowing how you are doing in all five dimensions of wellbeing. The five wellbeing dimensions are Social, Emotional, Spiritual, Mental and Physical. Teach your child to value their wellbeing, too, by talking openly about it with them. If you lead the way by consciously boosting your own wellbeing then the household will begin to follow suit. Encourage your children to express their emotions from a young age. Introduce emotional wellbeing language and encourage a family dialogue that you use and establish together.

2. Be present.

Focus your time and energy in the present moment as much as possible (it can be so easy to get distracted). Be conscious about your little daily choices and make time to enjoy the everyday moments. Throughout the day, listen to your child without feeling the need to problem solve for them, encourage them to come up with possible solutions to challenges. At dinnertime, have a family wellbeing chat. Each family member takes a turn to share one challenge and one celebration that they had that day. Cultivating and nurturing family connection is a vital key is dissipating the bullying epidemic.


3. Monitor your self-talk.

Be aware of the way you talk to yourself. Check in regularly to ensure your tone is positive. Use a positive affirmation such as, “I’m doing the very best job that I can do”. Treat yourself as you would a good friend and be self-compassionate. It’s important to do this right from the beginning of your motherhood journey. Teach your children how to be kind to themselves, for example, when you make a mistake, instead of berating yourself out aloud, say, “Oh well, it’s not a disaster, it’s okay to make a mistake, I’ve learnt something!” Modelling this type of self-talk is one of the best mental wellbeing tools you can share with your child.


 4. Nurture your relationships.

As a mum, your social wellbeing skills are invaluable. Invest your love, time and energy in your most cherished and supportive relationships. Be sure to give the best of you to your loved ones, not your leftovers! Take time to highlight and praise acts of kindness as you witness them throughout the day. Talk to your child with kindness every day. Even when you are frustrated, you can still be kind. For example, you may say, “I’m feeling frustrated at the moment because you are not listening to me. I’m using my wellbeing tool of deep breathing to help me keep calm while I wait for you to put on your shoes”. This is a powerful demonstration of how, in the moment of pure frustration, you chose not to yell but to use a key wellbeing strategy. This helps children learn how to express and manage big emotions effectively. An essential tool for emotional and social wellbeing development.


 5. Schedule rest time.

Incorporate mini breaks into your day. For example, indulge in a hot cup of tea before you start the household chores. Reduce your busyness by scheduling fewer activities. Create space for down time and going slow. Rushing around from one place to another increases stress levels and can diminish your daily wellbeing. Teaching children to have ‘slow time’ is crucial in nurturing their mental and spiritual wellbeing. It strengthens their ability to cope in times of stress, exhaustion and anxiety. You may like to teach them how to breathe mindfully or invite them to do a mini meditation with you. I love doing this with my children on the way to school.


6. Cultivate a household of kindness.

Be a role-model for kindness in your home and lead the way by dispersing little acts of kindness as the day goes on. Remembering to make time for the little things, such as using your manners, a warm hug, a kiss hello, eye contact accompanied with a smile, listening without interruption, the giving of a genuine compliment or sharing a meal together without technology can basically determine the tone of your home. Although these actions may seem insignificant, within these tiny moments the key to cultivating kindness can be found. It’s all too easy to overlook or dismiss these actions as unimportant, however, by incorporating them into your daily routine can be life-changing for your children. Begin by lighting up when you first greet your loved ones in your home each morning, smiling at them with a beautiful sparkle in your eye. This tiny action alone can transform your relationships by affirming that your children matter to you. When one person in each home prioritises this, the ripple effect will not only positively transform each household but the entire Australian community. A bully-free community begins with a bully-free home.


7. Empower your children to make good choices.

Discuss the concept of making good choices. Take the time to discuss good and bad choices with your children and how your choices impact how you feel as you go about your day. Encouraging children to adopt inclusion behaviours is a crucial element in setting the tone for inclusive behaviour when interacting and engaging with the world. For example, including other children in your game in the playground sets the precedent for including others later in life. As a role-model you also do this by the way you talk about other people and how you discuss the events that occur in the community. Children are little sponges and absorb so much of what they are exposed to. The way in which you make decisions directly impacts how your children make their decisions – because they learn how to problem solve from you and by how you manage your daily and life challenges.  


 8. Start your day with positivity.

Begin your day with a PAP (Positive Action Plan). Ask yourself these three questions: “How do I want to feel today? What am I grateful for? What are my top 3 priorities?” The PAP helps to set the tone for your day. Invite your children to do this with you. Since the age of two my daughter has been setting her daily intention and my son who is six feels empowered to create the tone of his day. He also has a big wellbeing toolkit that he can access to effectively manage and navigate the different and sometimes challenging situations he encounters at school.


The first 1,825 days (first five years) that children spend learning about life before they first walk through the school gates is instrumental in their social, emotional, mental and spiritual development. It is therefore imperative that all mums feel empowered and equipped with daily tools and strategies to help assist in building their child’s wellbeing toolkit from the minute they are born.

It’s so important that we now continue to openly discuss and address acceptance of one another exactly as we are. The sooner we do this, the more inclusive and wellbeing-savvy our community will become. It starts with each mum, in each household around Australia.

What a brilliant gift to give the younger generation!

Here’s to a bully-free community.

Rhiannon xo


Notable Quotes and Further Reading

“Some children have a temperament that makes them more likely to bully, while others come from families where violence and ‘put-downs’ are common” >> http://bit.ly/1TnuJla

“The bullying is the child's scream for help, not for punishment, and certainly not for shaming”. – Dr Shefali Tsabary >> http://huff.to/1TnuLtB

“Parents need to actively listen and empower their children to talk about the bullying behaviour and not be afraid to speak their mind. Ensure your child develops resilience and empathy by being assertive and having good communication skills”. >> http://bit.ly/1KWMfKk

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