Helping Your Child With Bullying
What You Can Do if You Suspect Your Child Is Being Bullied
Talking with your child about being bullied may be a difficult thing to do. Here are some suggestions:
- Do not confront the suspected bully or bullies on your own. Your first instinct may be to protect your child and address the suspected bully directly. This may only serve to escalate the situation, and ultimately make things worse.
- Talk to a school administrator about the situation. Remember that the school is responsible for providing your child with a safe learning environment.
- Teach your child that telling on those who bully should not be considered tattling, and that everyone is a victim when the bully is allowed to treat others badly. Let your child know that by reporting bullying, help will come and that support will come from you and from the school staff.
- Role play with your child and discuss ways he or she can respond to a bully. Some possibilities might include walking away, telling an adult, or asking for help from peers.
- Report any incidents of bullying behaviors, even if your child is not the target of such behavior, or if your child is the instigator, to school officials.
- Engage school officials’ help in monitoring and addressing these behaviors. This will show your child that you and others are committed to stopping all such behaviors. It also teaches students that those who bully are accountable for their behaviors.
If You Suspect Your Child Is The Bully
- Talk to your child, calmly, about why he or she is engaging in such behaviors. It is important that you not approach your child in an accusatory or confrontational tone. Explain to your child why bullying behavior is unacceptable. Attempts should be made to explain how bullying affects others (victims, bystanders, school climate).
- Teach your child some alternatives to aggressive behavior such as asking for help, respecting others, and showing tolerance for those who are different. Praise your child for using alternative, appropriate behavior.
- Become familiar with the anti-bullying policy at your child’s school. Discuss school rules and behavior expectations with your child. Ensure that your child understands what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are unacceptable.
- Establish rules regarding aggressive behavior. Explain to your child that there will be consequences for these types of behaviors, such as losing privileges (consequences should be nonphysical in nature). Implement nonphysical consequences consistently when rules are violated. An especially helpful consequence for a bully is restitution (doing something nice for the person you hurt). This is not necessarily an apology -- it is a good action that helps make amends for a bad one.
What You Can Do to Help Eliminate Bullying
- Getting involved in your child’s life both inside and outside of school is important, both for your own sake and for your child’s. You will see how your child interacts with other children and will be able to take steps if you see any potentially troublesome behaviors that are taking place. Talking with your child about how to engage in nonviolent interactions and how to respond to those who bully will prepare your child for such situations in school and elsewhere.
- Addressing bullying behavior and its consequences is a difficult task. Your school’s psychologist, counselor, or social worker may be able to offer additional suggestions or work with your child in dealing with bullies.
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Adapted from NASP Online Resource