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Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?

In honour of Bullying Awareness Week, we take a look at how you can help your child embrace his or her particular brand of bravery.

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?

Bullying: What colour is your courage?

Courage comes in many forms

What does it mean to be courageous? Ask a child, and you can almost see the images of caped crusaders flashing in their eyes. The sad truth is, though, we’re conditioned to see courage only in terms of heroic feats and grand deeds — in the shape of superheroes that save the day.

But courage comes in many colours; it’s more complex and varied than Marvel imagines. Helping your child find his or her preferred brand of bravery is essential — especially in the battle against bullying

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

Why you need a "shade" of daring

In the mid-60s, social psychologists observed the "bystander effect." They discovered that onlookers often stand apathetically by rather than offer help to a victim of distress, demurring to fellow onlookers for leadership. Bystander apathy has also been blamed on fear of aggressor reprisal.

Whether fearful of peer opinion or bully backlash, courage is MIA on many playgrounds. And bullying persists. En-“courage”-ing kids requires us to embrace a broad definition of bravery. Heroes come in many styles and the one best suited to your child will largely be dictated by their temperament.

Read more: The skills our kids really need>

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

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The Runner

For the timid child, running for help may be the best way to stand up to bullies. For this child, learning to trust her instincts and seek adult assistance when her Spidey senses start tingling makes her a playground champ.

Read more: How to help your pushover kid>

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

The Extrovert

Rallying others in defense of someone (or a group) is a valiant way for outgoing, engaged children to demonstrate their personal power. Whether using their social influence to circle the wagons around a peer-in-need, or spearheading the school’s anti-bullying campaign, social butterflies have a special way of speaking up.

Read more: What to do about school bus bullying>

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

The Class Clown

Humour is a little-appreciated technique for diffusing difficult situations. Using comedy to come between a bully and his prey is a wonderful way for budding comics to express their singular shade of courage. As one young client told me: “It’s better to crack a joke than crack a skull.”

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

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The Leader

If your child has always been a born leader — you know, the big kid on campus, the one all the others follow — then their colour of courage is a bold shade. For them, standing up to schoolyard aggression may be as straightforward as simply speaking up.

These small warriors aren’t afraid to put their popularity to the test and say, “Stop!”

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

Talk to your child

Bullying Awareness Week is a great opportunity to speak with your child about courage. What flavour does she have a fondness for? Stress not only the importance of tapping into our inner reserve of bravery, but also that bravery comes in many forms. However your child chooses to assert himself, standing up to bullying is essential. Failure to do so creates a self-imposed sense of impotence that has far-reaching effects. And success in doing so will do wonders for your child's strength and confidence. 

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

Read on for confidence-boosting tips

How to raise a confident kid>
Here are eight basic tips for building your child’s confidence.

Bullying: What colour is your child's courage?Photo: iStockphoto

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