How to help your kids to deal with bullies at school

Last Updated: March 2, 2021 References

This article was co-authored by Katie Styzek. Katie Styzek is a Professional School Counselor for Chicago Public Schools. Katie earned a BS in Elementary Education with a Concentration in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She served as a middle school mathematics, science, and social studies teacher for three years prior to becoming a counselor. She holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling from DePaul University and an MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Katie holds an Illinois School Counselor Endorsement License (Type 73 Service Personnel), an Illinois Principal License (formerly Type 75), and an Illinois Elementary Education Teaching License (Type 03, K – 9). She is also Nationally Board Certified in School Counseling from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

There are 37 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Remember that old schoolyard jingle, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? That was not and certainly is not the truth today. Three-quarters of all children say they have been bullied or teased. [1] X Research source Bullying and teasing are similar, but one of the key differences between them is intention. Teasing becomes bullying when it is a repetitive behavior with the conscious intention to harm or hurt another child. [2] X Research source Bullying is one of the largest problems in schools, where the percentage of students reporting bullying at least once a week has steadily increased since 1999, according to the FBI. [3] X Research source Bullying can make kids feel hurt, scared, lonely, embarrassed, and sad. In addition, it can also make kids fearful of and unwilling to attend school. Here are some tips on how to deal with bullies at school.

Does your child know how to handle a bully?

THE BASICS

  • How to Handle Bullying
  • Find a therapist to support kids or teens

The recent media attention on the epidemic of youth bullying in the United States brings to public awareness what most parents and school professionals know and live on a daily basis: kids can be brutal. Celebrities and professionals have boldly weighed in, in front of the cameras, saying, “This has to end!” And they are right. The question is, how will we end it?

While school policies focus on zero tolerance and criminal penalties are wielded for some of the most egregious bullies, others know what coaches have been saying for years: the best offense is a good defense.

Am I advocating revenge? Do I think the world is going to be changed by bullied kids uniting in retaliation against their tormenters? By no means! Rather, I take that old sports-ism to encourage parents to fortify their kids with specific skills that help young people stand up for themselves and stop bullies in their tracks. In other words, I sadly don’t hold out hope that the world is going to change for our kids. I optimistically do believe, however, that our kids can change their own world by developing a set of skills that makes bullying unrewarding.

Skill 1: Stay Connected

Bullies operate by making their victims feel alone and powerless. Children reclaim their power when they make and maintain connections with faithful friends and supportive adults.

Skill 2: Create Awareness

Sometimes kids feel like adults never do anything—so why even bother to tell them about incidents of bullying? While there are cases when adults fail to acknowledge the seriousness of a situation, it is more often the case that grown-ups are not aware of what is going on. Bullies use relational aggression to inflict their violence in subtle, socially acceptable ways that tend not to register on an adult’s radar. Teach your child that it is her job to create awareness. Be clear in teaching kids that telling an adult about bullying is not a mark of cowardice, but rather a bold, powerful move.

Skill 3: Redefine Tattling

My daughter came to me yesterday, worried that if she told the bus driver about a boy who was spitting on her, then she would be labeled as a “tattletale.” I told her that this is exactly what the bully wanted her to think! Isolation is a bully’s method of intimidation. In fact, it is only by telling an adult that kids can begin to re-balance the power dynamic. When a bully realizes that he will not be able to keep a victim isolated, he immediately begins to lose power.

Skill 4: Act Quickly

The longer a bully has power over a victim, the stronger the hold becomes. Oftentimes, bullying begins in a relatively mild form—name-calling, teasing, or minor physical aggression. After the bully has tested the waters and confirmed that a victim is not going to tell and adult and stand up for his rights, the aggression worsens. Teach your child that taking action against the bully—and taking it sooner rather than later—is the best way to gain and retain power.

The more a bully thinks he can pick on a victim without a response, the more he will do it. That’s why an assertive response is so effective in countering bullying. Kids who master the skills of assertiveness are comfortable in the middle ground between aggressive comebacks that up the ante for the next go-round and passive responses that invite further abuse.

Skill 6: Use Simple, Unemotional Language

Assertive kids use simple, unemotional, direct language to let bullies know that they do not intend to be victimized. Why should you teach your child to use responses that are “unemotional”? Indications that a person can be emotionally impacted signal a bully that he will be able to wield power easily. By encouraging your child to respond without anger or fear, you teach her how to portray confidence. The bully, in turn, detects less potential for wielding control.

Skill 7: Use Body Language to Reinforce Words

When coaching your child in the skills of assertive communication, it is helpful to practice using body language to reinforce words. Teach your child to employ these simple, non-verbal assertive strategies that indicate to a bully that your child means what she says:

• Maintain eye contact
• Keep your voice calm and even
• Stand an appropriate distance from the bully
• Use the bully’s name when speaking to him

Teach your child that emotional non-verbals, such as looking away, raising her voice, or shrinking back are all dead giveaways that the bully has gotten to her.

In this article

What must schools do about bullying?

Schools have a legal duty of care towards their pupils and a responsibility to prevent bullying amongst them.

Schools must have a behaviour policy that outlines measures to encourage good behaviour in schools. Some schools have a separate anti-bullying policy, which sets out how bullying is reported, recorded and what action will be taken.

These policies must be made available to parents and may be on the school website. If not, you can ask the school for a copy.

Ways that schools can deal with bullying

Schools deal with bullying in different ways. Depending on the age and needs of the children, some schools will use a combination of approaches. Others may just have policies that focus on individual behaviour.

Below are some of the most common ways that schools deal with bullying. Try to talk to your child and find out what they think would help them.

  • Mentoring is having a named person your child can go to for support at school.
  • Peer mentoring is when older students are trained to become ‘buddies’ or ‘playground pals’ providing support and someone to talk to nearer their own age. This helps everyone in the school learn that bullying is not acceptable.
  • Being a ‘telling school’ so that if the child being bullied is unable to or too scared to tell a teacher or other adult, all other children know it is their duty to report it.
  • Circle of Friends is used in mainstream schools to promote the inclusion of disabled children. It involves pupils, teachers and parents. It aims to help children develop social and communication skills and help them build friendships with each other. Through regular meetings, children are encouraged to look at their own behaviour and develop an understanding of their needs and the needs of others.
  • Providing activities where disabled and non-disabled children spend time together. This can help to ‘bust the myths’ around disability and change views and attitudes.
  • Organising group and individual sessions for children based on listening and behavioural therapy. This might involve looking at anger management, social skills, developing the ability to react in an agreed way, building resilience, improving emotional health and finding opportunities for relaxation.
  • Restorative justice brings all the children involved together so everyone affected plays a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. There are several different methods but they usually follow these principles:
    • Bullying and harassment occur in the context of group behaviour.
    • Behaviour of children who bully can be changed by working together.
    • Punishments like detention or exclusion don’t help children understand why their behaviour is not acceptable and it may put children at greater risk. Children who display bullying behaviour may seek revenge or continue to bully but change the method they use, making it harder to detect and resolve.
    • The aim is to develop empathy and concern for others.

Many schools have a flexible approach that includes a range of responses. This includes training for school staff and lessons for pupils to encourage both staff and pupils to think of ways to make the school more inclusive.

There’s nothing worse than discovering your tween or teen has been targeted by a bully. As a parent, you may experience an entire range of emotions including anger, fear, pain, confusion and maybe even embarrassment.   But regardless of what you are feeling, overcoming bullying requires immediate action on your part.

Bullying is not something that goes away on its own and it’s not something kids can just “work out.” Even if you are not sure if your child is being bullied, your participation in the situation is crucial to a positive outcome.

Here are 10 steps you can take to help your child overcome bullying.

Create an Environment Where Your Tween or Teen Feels Safe Talking to You

How to help your kids to deal with bullies at school

Make sure your teen or tween feels comfortable sharing with you. Avoid having an emotional reaction and don’t shame your child for being bullied. Instead, ask questions in a calm manner gathering as many details as you can. Applaud your tween or teen’s courage in telling you about the incident.   This not only encourages future disclosures but also helps build a stronger relationship between the two of you.

Make a Commitment to Help Resolve the Issue

It’s always a good idea to ask for your child’s opinion before you go straight to teachers or administrators. Sometimes a tween or teen will be afraid of retaliation and you need to be sensitive to this concern when addressing the issue. If there is a fear of retaliation, you will need to be discreet in talking with school authorities and be sure they will do the same. Make sure they will not put your child at risk by calling both kids into the office at the same time or asking them to sit down with the guidance counselor together.  

Discuss the Bullying Incidents in Detail With School Personnel

Be sure to bring notes about when and where the bullying took place. The more concrete documentation you can provide, the better. Also, ask them to share the school’s bullying policy and stress that you want to partner with the school to see that the issue is resolved.  

Emphasize That Your Goal Is to See That Your Child Feels Safe at School

Ask the principal and guidance counselor about how this will be accomplished. For example, what other adults, like duty aids, physical education teachers, bus drivers, hallway monitors, and cafeteria staff, will be notified to be on alert? Can your child have a new class schedule or a new locker assignment? In other words, what steps can the school take to ensure your child’s safety? It’s very hard for a child to heal if the school environment feels threatening or hostile. Even if the bullying has stopped, being around the bully may still cause your tween or teen anxiety.  

Consider Outside Counseling

Bullying can affect your child in a number of ways and regaining self-confidence is a process that may require outside intervention. A counselor also can assess your tween or teen for depression and thoughts of suicide.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Even if you suspect your child is fine, never underestimate the power of bullying. Kids have taken drastic measures to escape the pain it causes including committing suicide without ever admitting the hurt they were feeling.  

Encourage Your Tween or Teen to Stick With a Friend at School

Having a friend at lunch, in the hallways, while riding the bus and during the walk home is always a good idea. Bullies are more likely to target kids when they are alone. If finding a friend is an issue, consider driving your child to and from school and ask the school if they have a mentor or someone who can be available to your child.  

Teach Your Tween or Teen Skills for Overcoming the Negative Impact of Bullying

One way to do this is to emphasize your child’s strengths, skills, talents, and positive attributes. Then, help your child find activities and events that help build on those strengths. Some parents have found that Tae Kwon Do or a self-defense class helps kids develop self-confidence.  

Keep the Lines of Communication Open With Your Child

Be deliberate in asking about your tween or teen’s day and acknowledge any negative feelings or emotions. Watch for signs that your child is being bullied again — either by the same person or a new person. For non-bullying incidents, you also may want to brainstorm strategies for dealing with difficult peer situations. If your child is getting outside counseling, the counselor can give you additional strategies on actively listening and communicating with your child as well.

Foster Opportunities for Socializing With Friends Outside of School

Encourage your tween or teen to invite friends over, to the movies or other fun activity. By doing so, you are helping your child develop a strong support system. If your child needs help finding friends look for opportunities within your child’s circle of interests. Keep in mind kids who have friends are less likely to be targeted by bullies.   And if they are targeted, having friends helps ease the negative effects.

Follow up With the School to Ensure That the Bullying Has Been Resolved

If the bullying hasn’t been resolved, or if the school is not taking the situation seriously, you may want to consider removing your child from the situation. Is the bullying serious enough that you can involve law enforcement? Can your tween or teen attend another school? Are there options for online learning programs that are done at home? It’s important that your tween or teen feels like they have options. Feeling like there are no options or that the bullying must be tolerated, leads to feelings of hopeless, depression and even suicide.  

There’s nothing worse than discovering your tween or teen has been targeted by a bully. As a parent, you may experience an entire range of emotions including anger, fear, pain, confusion and maybe even embarrassment.   But regardless of what you are feeling, overcoming bullying requires immediate action on your part.

Bullying is not something that goes away on its own and it’s not something kids can just “work out.” Even if you are not sure if your child is being bullied, your participation in the situation is crucial to a positive outcome.

Here are 10 steps you can take to help your child overcome bullying.

Create an Environment Where Your Tween or Teen Feels Safe Talking to You

How to help your kids to deal with bullies at school

Make sure your teen or tween feels comfortable sharing with you. Avoid having an emotional reaction and don’t shame your child for being bullied. Instead, ask questions in a calm manner gathering as many details as you can. Applaud your tween or teen’s courage in telling you about the incident.   This not only encourages future disclosures but also helps build a stronger relationship between the two of you.

Make a Commitment to Help Resolve the Issue

It’s always a good idea to ask for your child’s opinion before you go straight to teachers or administrators. Sometimes a tween or teen will be afraid of retaliation and you need to be sensitive to this concern when addressing the issue. If there is a fear of retaliation, you will need to be discreet in talking with school authorities and be sure they will do the same. Make sure they will not put your child at risk by calling both kids into the office at the same time or asking them to sit down with the guidance counselor together.  

Discuss the Bullying Incidents in Detail With School Personnel

Be sure to bring notes about when and where the bullying took place. The more concrete documentation you can provide, the better. Also, ask them to share the school’s bullying policy and stress that you want to partner with the school to see that the issue is resolved.  

Emphasize That Your Goal Is to See That Your Child Feels Safe at School

Ask the principal and guidance counselor about how this will be accomplished. For example, what other adults, like duty aids, physical education teachers, bus drivers, hallway monitors, and cafeteria staff, will be notified to be on alert? Can your child have a new class schedule or a new locker assignment? In other words, what steps can the school take to ensure your child’s safety? It’s very hard for a child to heal if the school environment feels threatening or hostile. Even if the bullying has stopped, being around the bully may still cause your tween or teen anxiety.  

Consider Outside Counseling

Bullying can affect your child in a number of ways and regaining self-confidence is a process that may require outside intervention. A counselor also can assess your tween or teen for depression and thoughts of suicide.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Even if you suspect your child is fine, never underestimate the power of bullying. Kids have taken drastic measures to escape the pain it causes including committing suicide without ever admitting the hurt they were feeling.  

Encourage Your Tween or Teen to Stick With a Friend at School

Having a friend at lunch, in the hallways, while riding the bus and during the walk home is always a good idea. Bullies are more likely to target kids when they are alone. If finding a friend is an issue, consider driving your child to and from school and ask the school if they have a mentor or someone who can be available to your child.  

Teach Your Tween or Teen Skills for Overcoming the Negative Impact of Bullying

One way to do this is to emphasize your child’s strengths, skills, talents, and positive attributes. Then, help your child find activities and events that help build on those strengths. Some parents have found that Tae Kwon Do or a self-defense class helps kids develop self-confidence.  

Keep the Lines of Communication Open With Your Child

Be deliberate in asking about your tween or teen’s day and acknowledge any negative feelings or emotions. Watch for signs that your child is being bullied again — either by the same person or a new person. For non-bullying incidents, you also may want to brainstorm strategies for dealing with difficult peer situations. If your child is getting outside counseling, the counselor can give you additional strategies on actively listening and communicating with your child as well.

Foster Opportunities for Socializing With Friends Outside of School

Encourage your tween or teen to invite friends over, to the movies or other fun activity. By doing so, you are helping your child develop a strong support system. If your child needs help finding friends look for opportunities within your child’s circle of interests. Keep in mind kids who have friends are less likely to be targeted by bullies.   And if they are targeted, having friends helps ease the negative effects.

Follow up With the School to Ensure That the Bullying Has Been Resolved

If the bullying hasn’t been resolved, or if the school is not taking the situation seriously, you may want to consider removing your child from the situation. Is the bullying serious enough that you can involve law enforcement? Can your tween or teen attend another school? Are there options for online learning programs that are done at home? It’s important that your tween or teen feels like they have options. Feeling like there are no options or that the bullying must be tolerated, leads to feelings of hopeless, depression and even suicide.  

Children and teenagers who feel secure and supported by their family, school, and peers are less likely to bully. However, some youth do not have these types of support. Every individual is unique and there are many factors that can contribute to bullying behavior. A youth who bullies may experience one, several, or none of these contributing factors.

Peer factors

Some youth bully:

  • to attain or maintain social power or to elevate their status in their peer group.
  • to show their allegiance to and fit in with their peer group.
  • to exclude others from their peer group, to show who is and is not part of the group.
  • to control the behavior of their peers.

Family factors

Some youth who bully:

  • come from families where there is bullying, aggression, or violence at home.
  • may have parents and caregivers that do not provide emotional support or communication.
  • may have parents or caregivers who respond in an authoritarian or reactive way.
  • may come from families where the adults are overly lenient or where there is low parental involvement in their lives.

Emotional factors

Some youth who bully:

  • may have been bullied in the past or currently.
  • have feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem, so they bully to make themselves feel more powerful.
  • do not understand other’s emotions.
  • don’t know how to control their emotions, so they take out their feelings on other people.
  • may not have skills for handling social situations in healthy, positive ways.

School factors

Some youth who bully:

  • may be in schools where conduct problems and bullying are not properly addressed.
  • may experience being excluded, not accepted, or stigmatized at school.

Every youth involved in bullying – as a target, a bystander, or as one who does the bullying – can benefit from adult, school, and community support. Youth who bully may also need support to help them address their behavior. Parents, school counselors, teachers, and mental health professionals can work with youth who bully to help them develop healthy school and peer connections and to learn new social and emotional skills. If you have bullied your peers, reach out to a trusted adult for help. Bullying is a behavior that can be changed.

How adults can equip kids with skills to cope with conflict

Posted Jan 23, 2016

THE BASICS

  • How to Handle Bullying
  • Find a therapist to support kids or teens

One of the most common reasons parents approach me is to ask for my advice on how to help their child handle a bullying situation at school. Fear for their child’s well-being combined with a sense of powerlessness at changing peer dynamics often leaves moms, dads, and other caregivers feeling helpless. The bad news is that conflict and bullying are pervasive among school-aged kids and most students will be impacted by physical or social aggression either directly or indirectly. The good news is that there are many, many ways that parents can help safeguard their children and positively impact kids’ relationships. Here are five of the simplest—yet most powerful—do’s and don’ts parents can use to help their kids handle conflict and bullying:

1. Words Matter

Do help kids understand the difference between unintentionally rude behavior (such as butting ahead in the lunch line), mean comments said in a moment of anger between friends (e.g. “You’re not my best friend anymore”), and bullying behavior that is characteristically marked by purposeful cruelty that is repeated over time and involves an abuse of power (whether that power be size and strength or social rank at school.)

Don’t allow kids to over-label rude and mean behaviors as ‘bullying.’ In recent years, gratuitous references to bullying in schools and communities have created a “little boy who cried wolf” phenomena, resulting in jaded adults failing to take action when needed and vulnerable children missing out on the adult support they desperately need.

2. Conflict is OK

Do teach your child that it is perfectly normal to disagree with a friend. Differences of opinion are perfectly acceptable and learning how to communicate them respectfully is a critical social skill.

Don’t worry that you’re too much of a helicopter parent if you intervene in your child’s friendship conflict. Kids are not born knowing how to resolve conflict (goodness knows too many people make it to adulthood without this knowledge!). Young people need supportive adults to coach them in how to disagree without arguing and how to apologize after they’ve behaved badly.

3. Bullying is Not OK

Do talk to your child about the qualities of a good friendship and help them to set healthy boundaries on how they are treated by others. Having a fight with a friend is one thing—being on the receiving end of persistent cruelty is quite another. All young people should be empowered to know the difference.

Don’t second-guess your child if he or she tells you that they are being bullied. Listen to them, convey that you believe them, tell them you ae sorry for what they are going through, and help them problem-solve when they are ready for this step. The experience of feeling heard and understood is invaluable for a young person.

4. BFF’s Do Not Have to Be Together 24/7/365

Do let kids know that it’s totally natural for friends to get on each other’s nerves from time to time and that these feelings of irritation and annoyance are very different from actually “not liking each other anymore.” Help your child understand that time away from a BFF can be a healthy thing and that spending time with other friends (or alone!) is not a sign that a friendship is over, but rather a wise choice.

Don’t let kids get caught up in all-or-nothing thinking patterns that cause them to think that a period of annoyance with a BFF must result in the end of the friendship altogether. Bullying too often begins where friendships end; besties become frenemies when a slight snowballs into a fight. Adults play a key role in teaching young people that time apart can actually bring friends closer together.

5. Stronger at the Broken Places

Do believe that your child is strong enough to cope with the emotions associated with conflict and bullying, including anger, sadness, embarrassment, confusion, and even humiliation. Empower the young person in your life to work through difficult situations and negative emotions and provide them with unconditional love and support all along the way.

Don’t rescue your child from every problem situation and challenging emotional state. While it can be incredibly difficult to watch a young person struggle with painful feelings, not allowing them to cope is far worse! You are raising your child to become an adult and as such, he or she needs to know how to handle whatever life throws at them.

Does this mean you should allow your child to navigate conflict and bullying entirely on their own? Of course not. As noted above, kids need adults to teach them helpful skills to cope with friendship troubles.

Am I saying kids should be exposed to intense levels of stress in order to “build their character?” No way. It’s never healthy for kids to become stressed beyond the limits of their coping abilities.

What I am saying, however, is that kids need to be allowed to feel their feelings and—with the support of a caring adult—to learn how to cope with these feelings in healthy ways during their childhood and adolescence. Kids who lack these experiences become adults who have no resources for managing the inevitable conflicts of relationships and the workplace.

For more information on strategies to help young people cope with conflict and bullying, please check out www.signewhitson.com or follow Signe on Facebook at Twitter @SigneWhitson

Signe Whitson is a School Counselor, national educator on Bullying Prevention, and author of four books related to child and adolescent mental health, including How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens and 8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools.

By John Kubalak

Published on: December 30, 2013

Bullying as a national hot-button concern reached a zeitgeist tipping point in 2010. A tragedy was unfolding as the media related devastating news of children committing suicide because of the bullying they experienced. An unconscionable, unimaginable, and unbelievable thought to any parent, that a beloved child would be bullied so badly by peers that he or she took his own life to escape the pain.

Bullying has always happened, is happening, and will continue to happen – and we must educate ourselves and our children about how best to identify, understand, and deal with it. Engaged and mindful parenting around this issue is required to raise children who are likewise mindful.

There is a tremendous amount of media available that addresses the issue of bullying — from Anderson Cooper’s recent special report “Bullying, It Stops Here” to the ongoing It Gets Better Project to the raft of websites, policy-making, publications, and other information on the subject. These sources can be very helpful to educate you and your older children, but bullying doesn’t just spring up suddenly like an unfortunate case of acne when kids hit adolescence. The behaviors that lead to bullying start as early as preschool. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to start a conversation with your younger children about bullying and the emotions associated with both bullies and their victims.

Here are some excellent books to get you started engaging in creative and critically important dialogue with your child about bullying.

26 books about bullying for younger children:

Most of these authors have written several books aimed at cultivating empathy and respect for others, and they talk forthrightly about elements of bullying or depict what it is like to be bullied. In some cases these books deal with emotions that can result from, or lead to, bullying, and they provide an excellent framework for talking to your children about how to deal with attendant emotions and interactions.

1. Amanda Pig on Her Own by Jean Van Leeuwen
2. Dora’s Box by Ann-Jeanette Campbell
3. Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
4. The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
5. A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook
6. The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric
7. Surviving Brick Johnson By Laurie Myers
8. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
9. Rosie’s Story by Martine Gogoll
10. Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie de Paola
11. How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson
12. The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby
13. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
14. The Hundred Dresses by Elinor Estes
15. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
16. Angel Child, Dragon Child by Michele Maria Surat
17. The Ant Bully by John Nickle
18. The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack
19. I Speak English for My Mom by Muriel Stanek
20. The Magic Fan by Keith Baker
21. Believing Sophie by Hazel Hutchins
22. Crickwing by Janell Cannon
23. How to Fight a Girl by Thomas Rockwell
24. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
25. Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
26. The Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson

4 books for children, second grade and up:

As far as I am concerned, buy anything that Northwest native Trudy Ludwig writes — her books are realistic and they break down a complex subject for kids without being condescending.

As your child gets older, Confessions of a Former Bully becomes a go-to on the subject.

Having been bullied when I was in primary school, this is a topic that is very dear to my heart and I would very much like to teach parents how to bully-proof their kids.

How to help your kids to deal with bullies at school

Having been bullied when I was in primary school, this is a topic that is very dear to my heart and I would very much like to teach parents how to bully-proof their kids. Bullies can indeed make your child’s life a “living hell”. Kids become afraid to go to school or participate in activities. Schoolwork is often affected and the kid sometimes becomes withdrawn and depressed.

Bullying in this day and age is not only confined to physically being bullied, such as being pinched or punched or having our bags stolen and our lunch money taken away but it also involves virtual bullying. A child can be ostracised by a bully, both in the real world and in the virtual world. This I think is a double whammy for the child and if parents are equipped to deal with it, they can better help the child. So how do you help prevent your child from being a target? How do you stop bullying that is already happening to your child?

Communication

How to help your kids to deal with bullies at school

Start by opening up a conversation about bullying or if you have been a victim of bullying when you were younger, share your experience and how it affected you and how you dealt with it. This discussion can be carried on with children of any age, even as young as 5 years old. If possible get your family members (e.g., your spouse and all your children) together and share your experiences about bullying with each other.

During this conversation if your child were to bring up that he or she is indeed being bullied, immediately offer them your support and praise him or her for being brave enough to share. Address his worries and reassure him with compassion. That will help make things easier for him to open up and be receptive to any suggestions or advise that you might offer.

Find out as much as you can about the bullying so that you can help them deal with it and also enlist other people of authority to help with the situation. Perhaps you can speak to your child’s teacher and alert them regarding what your child has shared. Ask the teacher what are the school’s policy regarding bullying and how do they deal with it.

Safety in numbers

Encourage your child to hang out in a group or at least find one or two people they can buddy up with. If your child sits with a few friends during recess, the bully is less likely to approach them. Even going to the toilet, encourage them to adopt the buddy system and go with a friend. Wherever bullies may lurk, encourage your child to always try to go with a buddy.

Identify what is the target of the bully

Identify what exactly “attracts” the bully to your child. Is it because your child is carrying an expensive cell phone or some expensive electronic gadget? Does your child have a lot of money on him or her to buy lunch? If so, for the time being perhaps you can pack your child’s lunch for them and let them go to school without a cell phone or an electronic gadgets.

Control emotions

Teach your child that when a bully approaches them, they should to keep as calm as possible, if the bully tries to make them angry by making hurtful remarks, practice ignoring those remarks, calmly tell the bully to stop or just walk away. If a bully tries to hurt them physically, the best way is to try and run away as fast as they can and seek help from the closest adult they can find.

Parents, you do not have to fight this battle all by yourself, confronting the bully’s parents is usually not the best approach. Sometimes it helps but it is encouraged that you approach your child school’s officials such as the teacher, or principal and let them mediate.

About the Author
Kopi Soh has a MA in Psychology, Specializing in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. Her area of specialty is in working with children, adolescents, couples and families. She is also an artist and has published two self-help best sellers distributed by MPH, available in all bookstores throughout Malaysia.

This article was first published on Kiddy123.com.