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Parents can combat bullying by preventing behavior at early age

PHOENIX — October marks National Bullying Prevention Month and to help put an end to bullying at an early age, one Arizona expert suggested that parents should talk to their children if they start to display aggressive behavior.

Dr. Alison Steier with the Phoenix-based Southwest Human Development said parents should recognize that bullying can start before children enter elementary or middle school.

“There’s no reason to think that aggression in young children means that child is going to grow up to be aggressive, or that being victimized as a 3-year-old means that [they’re] going to be a victim the rest of [their] life,” she said.

Steier said parents should be attuned to their child’s behavior and talk to them about how they are feeling and why.

Children are passionate and often times when they get mad, they get really mad. While that behavior could be normal for kids, parents should take the time while they are young to address it, Steier said.

If parents notice their child showing aggressive behavior early on, Steier said it is important for them to figure out why it occurs, when it occurs and then “do some self-reflection: What’s [going on] in our family right now?”

And if parents believe their child may be the victim of bullying, they should teach them to stand up for themselves.

“There are skills that you can learn when you’re little to stand up for yourself,” she said. “To look at people in the eye, to use your words to say ‘that’s not OK,’ [and] to turn to other adults for support.”

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