Bully-Proofing Solutions: What To Do If Your Child Is Bullied

We usually think of bullying as physical aggression such as punching, hitting, shoving, but it’s way beyond that. If your kid is being bullied or harassed that means his friend or peers are hurting him intentionally. As a result, your son or daughter feels powerless, helpless, humiliated, shamed, and Bullying-finalhopeless about the whole situation. A bully can “attack” her victim verbally (spreading rumors), saying prejudicial comments or cruel ‘put downs’), emotionally (excluding, humiliating, hazing); as well as sexually harassment. The two biggest mistakes parents make are not taking their children’s complaints seriously and telling them to “toughen up,” and allowing it in the first place. There is no excuse for this behavior, and each and every one of us need to be on the same page to stop it. Here are a few solutions from THE BIG BOOK OF PARENTING SOLUTIONS to help you handle these rougher waters of parenting.

Take your child seriously. Bullying is frightening and humiliating at any age, so listen to your child. Don’t say: “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” “Just toughen up.” “It’ll go away.” “You’re making too big a deal out of this.” Instead, reassure your child that you believe him and will find a way to keep him safe.

Gather facts. Next, you need all the facts so you can help your kid create a plan to stop it. “What happened?” “Who did this?” “Where were you?” “Who was there?” “Were you alone?” “Has it happened before?” “How often?” “How does it start?” “What did you do?” “Do you think he’ll do it again?” “Did anyone help you?” “Did an adult see this?”

Don’t make promises. You may have to protect your child, so make no promises to keep things confidential. “I want to make sure you don’t get hurt, so I can’t guarantee I won’t tell. Let’s see what we can do so this doesn’t happen again.”

Offer specific tips for a plan of action. Most kids can’t handle bullying on their own: they need your help, so provide it. For instance: “I will pick you up after swimming. Don’t take the bus.” “Where can you play instead of by the swings?” “How can you have your books with you so you don’t have to go to your locker?” Bullying usually happens in unsupervised areas so tell your kid to be near others at lunch, recess, in hallways, near lockers, parks, or other areas. Tell your child there’s safety in numbers. “Stay with Kevin at recess.” “Sit with Josh on the bus. He’ll keep an eye out for you.” Kids who have even one friend to confide in can deal with bullying better than those on their own.

Identify a trusting adult who can help your child when you’re not around. They must take this seriously, protect your kid, and, if necessary, keep this confidential.

Create a comeback. Bullies rarely just go away, so offer ways to handle a bully if he must face him (though it’s often best to avoid him altogether). Pleading (“Please stop that”) or feeling-laden messages (“It really makes feel mad when you do that”) rarely work. Bullies want to get their victim upset, and so such comments just means they won. A firm, direct statement such as “Cut it out” or “Leave me alone” are usually best. Sometimes a humorous comeback can derail a bully: “Can you do this later?” “Now why would you say that?” or “Thanks for telling me.” Once your child agrees on a strategy, you must rehearse it until he feels confident to use it alone. A big part of success is the ability to deliver it assertively.

Teach how to use assertive body language. Research finds that kids who learn how to be assertive and appear more confident are less likely to be targeted by bullies. In fact, studies show it’s usually not how “different” your child looks or acts, but rather her insecure posture that makes her an easy target. The real secret is to help your child learn to “look assertive” and that means you can’t appear to be a doormat (when everyone walks on you) or a steamroller (you push everyone to get what you want). You want to look somewhere in between: cool and confident.

Boost self-confidence. Being bullied dramatically affects your child’s self-esteem, so find ways to boost her confidence. A few possibilities including learning martial arts, boxing, or weight-lifting. Find an avenue—such as a hobby, interest, sport, or talent–that your kid enjoys and can excel. Then help her develop the skill so her self-esteem grows. Or encourage your child to join safe kid activities at school or in the community. First, it may help your child make new friends and gain a much-needed support group; second, it will be a place of safety to go after school.

Step in when needed. If there’s ever the possibility your child could be injured–step in. Tell those directly responsible for your child like his teacher, coach, day-care worker. If you do not get assurance, go up a level: call the principal, superintendent, school board or police. If you need to meet with school officials, the bully’s parents, or law enforcement officers, keep records and evidence: torn clothing; threatening email; witness names and phone numbers and details.

Keep the lines of communication open with you child. Let him know in no uncertain terms: “You know you can always come to me.” “I’m so glad you told me.” “Let’s keep talking about what to do so you’re safe.” Above all, be vigilante, and don’t let up until your child feels safe

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Dr Borba’s new book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions has just been released and is now available at amazon.com

About the Author

Michele Borba, Ed.D. is the author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About Me World, and is an internationally renowned educational psychologist and a recognized expert in parenting, bullying, youth violence, and character development and author of 23 books including her new release, THRIVERS: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine. She is a regular NBC contributor who appears regularly on TODAY and has been featured as an expert on Dateline, The View, Dr Phil, NBC Nightly News, Fox & Friends, Dr. Oz, and The Early Show. She lives in Palm Springs, CA with her husband, and is the mother of three grown sons. Dr. Borba is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


2 Responses to “Bully-Proofing Solutions: What To Do If Your Child Is Bullied”

  1. My son has a Type A personality but I can see that if a bigger kid threatens him in any way his heart just breaks. He has my need to be loved. I can’t stand when someone is mad at me. These are great tips to help him out if he ever needs it!
    .-= Julie@Momspective´s last blog ..Wordles Wednesday – Thank You Verizon! =-.

  2. Kendal Schurman says:

    Anne Tyler~ People always call it luck when youve acted more sensibly than they have.

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