Bullying can have significant consequences to children, including low self esteem, anxiety/depression, and physical injury. Maintain an awareness about any bullying activities at school and address the issue right away if you see signs of bullying.
How to start the conversation:
“Do you ever see kids picking on other kids?”
“Do kids ever pick on you?”
“Do you ever pick on other kids?”
What to do if your child is being bullied:
Let your child know it’s not their fault. Bullies usually have their own reason for doing things - they may be bullied themselves or have other emotional problems that they don’t know how to manage in a more appropriate fashion.
DO talk to your child’s teacher and/or principal. It is appropriate for you and them to get involved and stop the inappropriate behavior. This is not a moment where your child just needs to learn to “put hair on their chest” and solve it by themselves. Children deserve a safe, supportive and positive environment within which to learn and develop social skills. Also, the teacher/principle should be the ones speaking with the bully/bully’s family, not you.
As mentioned above, your child should not be the one held responsible for stopping the bully’s behavior. With that said, there are a few things your child can do that can have been found to help reduce bullying:
Teach your child to not react to the bully. Bullies feed off of kids being scared, crying or upset. Advise them to remain calm, walk away, and inform an adult.
Encourage your child to form strong friendships/social circles such as by joining after school activities, which can reduce bullying.
If it continues, sometimes a more firm approach will cause the bully to leave your child alone. Do not teach your child to fight back, but rather let the bully know that the behavior is unwanted, will not have the intended results, and will have consequences. For example, stand tall, look them in the eye and say: "Stop doing that now. If you keep on bothering me, I'm going to report you to the principal (or another adult who happens to be nearby)." Or, "I'll talk to you, but I'm not going to fight.” (Examples from healthychildren.org)
DO seek counseling for your child for any significant or persistent bullying. It is important to help support them in developing a healthy self esteem and forming strong social relationships. For a few recommendations, see the mental health/counseling section of our links and resources page.
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