As our previous blog post outlined, bullying can take a psychological or physical form. Bullying can include, but is not limited to, physical violence, name-calling, teasing, and threatening. If your child is being targeted, there are steps that you can take to help your child cope.

The first is a proactive approach. Before your child begins school, it is important to work with them to ensure that they have high self-esteem and self-confidence. This will make sure that they feel capable of standing up for themselves if a situation arises that involves them being bullied. Having open discussions, working through programs designed to boost self-esteem and reflecting on your child’s day with them will aid in being proactive against bullying.

If you find that your child has already been a target, there other actions you can take. Ensuring that your child feels safe talking to you about the issue is crucial. Often, children feel embarrassed or scared to discuss the situation with their parents, so it is your job to offer comfort to them no matter how upset you are (kidshealth, 2012). As well, your child may be concerned that by telling you, it will make the bully angry and escalate their behavior. This is something that you, as a parent, need to take seriously. Talking to the bully’s parents is one option, but contacting the school is also another. You will need to use your discretion in deciding whom best to contact. However, typically it is best to talk to your child’s teacher, then the principal and then bring in the parents of the bully. If the bullying persists, you will need to discuss some strategies with your child that will hopefully improve the situation and make them feel better about it as well.

The following strategies are intended for children who are being bullied, as outlined by kidshealth.org

  • Avoid the bully and use the buddy system when in areas where the bully may be
  • Hold the anger. It's natural to get upset by the bully, but that's what bullies thrive on. It makes them feel more powerful. Sometimes kids find it useful to practice "cool down" strategies such as counting to 10, writing down their angry words, taking deep breaths or walking away. Sometimes the best thing to do is to teach kids to wear a "poker face" until they are clear of any danger (smiling or laughing may provoke the bully).
  • Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. Firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, then walk away.
  • Tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom personnel at school can all help stop bullying.
  • Talk about it. Talk to someone you trust, such as a guidance counselor, teacher, sibling, or friend. They may offer some helpful suggestions, and even if they can't fix the situation, it may help you feel a little less alone.
  • Remove the incentives. If the bully is demanding your lunch money, start bringing your lunch.                 

 Kids Health. (September, 2012). Helping Kids Deal with Bullies. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/bullies.html#