DO tell your child it’s not their fault. When someone is put down repeatedly they are likely to begin thinking something is really wrong with them. A bully often chooses a target at random and sticks to victims that react in the way that they desire. Assure your child know that it is not their fault they are being bullied.
DON’T take the situation lightly. Although making light of certain situations and joking around can ease stress, a child may see this reaction as not being taken seriously. There is nothing funny about your child being hurt.
DO communicate the issue with the school. Let the school know of the problem and see what their policy and consequences are for bullying.
DON’T blame the school or educators for not addressing the issue sooner. Keep in mind that educators and school staff deal with many children on a daily basis and are not always aware of what happens at all times.
DO encourage your child to write down bullying instances and how they made them feel. It’s important to know how the words or actions of a bully are affecting your child. Are they simply being teased or are they experiencing serious psychological damage? Constant bullying can lead to problems later in life such as eating disorders and drug problems.
DON’T encourage your child to fight back. Although confidence and standing up for oneself is an important lesson to learn, it may not always be the best choice in every situation. Your child can get seriously hurt or make themselves more of a target for bullying.
DO encourage your child to build a support system. Every kid wants to feel like they belong and bullies make kids feel rejected from their peers. If you child has trouble making friends, try enrolling them in extracurricular activities such as a youth group or sports team. Having good friends will help them build confidence and learn that healthy relationships are about being treated equal and with respect.
DON’T ignore the problem or encourage your child to ignore it. It’s a common misconception that if you stop reacting to the actions of a bully they’ll lose interest and move on to the next target. It may deter it for a short time, but the problem is not solved. Address the issue head on and come to a conclusion.
DO empower your child. Let your child know that with your help, they will put an end to this problem. Let them know that it takes a strong person to ask for help.
DON’T try to handle the problem yourself. Your instinct as a parent is to protect your child, but having mommy or daddy run to solve a problem can make matters worse for both of you.
DO stay calm and offer your support. Kids might be afraid to tell their parents about bullying because they are ashamed and think their parents will be disappointed. No matter how angry you are, try to stay calm and comfort your child.
DON’T criticize your child. Maybe they didn’t handle the situation the same way you would have liked them to, but remember that everyone reacts differently under pressure. Children are learning all the time and having the support of their parents is extremely important.
DO remove incentives from the bully. If your child is getting his lunch money or any sort of material object stolen, simply remove them from the situation and it may help the situation. Pack a lunch for your child and leave all valuables at home.
DON’T get the bully’s parents involved. This is often a parent’s first reaction, but it will likely make matters worse. Let the school handle the bully and the parents.
DO expect the bullying to stop. Check in with your child and the school to make sure that the appropriate measures are being taken to stop the bullying.
DON’T force your child to talk about things they don’t want to. Kids might be embarrassed of how bullies treat them and don’t want to open up to their parents about it. If you think your child has been hurt or bullied and refuses to speak to you about it, consult a school counselor or teacher and see if they can talk with your child.
DO practice role-play and safety strategies with your child for when they feel threatened. Ask them which adults they will report to when the bully approaches them.
DON’T encourage your child to get the bully “in trouble”. There is a difference between seeking help and tattling. There are many reasons that children become bullies. They may come from an abusive home or have psychological issues. A victimized child asks for help in hopes that the bully will stop bullying altogether, not just stop targeting them.
DO follow-up with your child. Ask them questions about school every day, not necessarily about the bully but about how they enjoyed their day. If they respond with things like “I hate school” or “I have no friends,” you’ll know that the issue has not been resolved.
DON’T get angry if the issue is not resolved immediately. Sometimes these things take time to fix. As long as your child is not hurt, the most important thing is to be there to support and comfort them. Maintain communication with the school to stay updated on the progress of the situation. The most important thing is to stay calm.