8 Surefire Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Bullying

Unhappy Girl Being Bullied In ClassThe signs for identifying that your child is being bullied are vast and often nuanced. Children often feel ashamed about being a target at school, so you may have to read between the lines to find out what is going on.

Perhaps your child is more quiet than usual. Tummy aches are becoming more frequent, and so are other excuses to miss school. They don’t like riding the bus. Whatever the case, you realize something is wrong, and as his or her parent, you can’t sit back and watch it go on anymore.

Before you head to school to sort things out, it’s worth exploring strategies on how to stop or prevent bullying. The following tips may help you address bullying in a smart and effective way:

  1. Keep your friends close. Making allies at your child’s school is key in helping your bullied child. School personnel often more quickly minimize bullying than admit that it occurs in their classrooms. If you are a good advocate for your child, you may address any issues head-on. Before you speak to your child’s teacher(s), think about how they may receive your feedback. Instead of telling a teacher what is happening in his or her classroom, ask. Tell the teacher about your suspicions, but don’t make it seem like you’re telling the teacher what to do. Compel the teacher to want to help you by being his or her ally.
  2. Keep your “enemies” closer. Is there a kid in your child’s classroom who seems to be the leader or bullying instigator? Find out whom your child dislikes the most in class—and why—and talk to that child’s parents. See if you can connect with them on a personal level. You may learn that the children have more in common than they think. By connecting with the kid’s parents, you’re leading by example.
  3. Play detective. Investigate what is driving the bullies. Is your child shy? Is it about your child’s appearance? Quirky interests? Children can be very cruel. And because of their developmentally appropriate black-and-white thinking, they often fall into an us-vs.-them mentality. Anybody who is different may be seen as a threat. Find out what can help your child connect with others without compromising your child’s uniqueness.
  4. Recognize your child’s strengths. When children have stronger self-image, they are bothered less by what bullies say about them. What are your child’s strengths? Allow your child to see that he or she is unique, special in his or her own way. Nobody else in class may be able to identify 50 types of dinosaurs. Maybe others don’t wear glasses because they aren’t as good readers. Whatever your child’s disadvantage, there is usually an advantage to balance it.
  5. Help your child shine. Find ways in which your child can exhibit his or her strengths at school. Encourage joining an after-school club he or she is likely to excel in. Or maybe your child has a cool dad. A friend told me that they were able to put an end to bullying after the dad went to school to do a presentation on martial arts. Dad did some impressive kicks, and his child was cool by association. They didn’t plan it that way, but it worked out!
  6. Find out how your child really feels. Allow your child to vent with you. Don’t immediately offer suggestions. Label his or her feelings, and say them back to him/her. Children who are able to identify feelings are typically better at managing their emotions. Ask questions, and let your child talk even when you know the answer, or what your response will be. This way, your child will learn to process thoughts on his or her own, which will help him/her feel empowered.
  7. Allow your child to grow from the experience. Being a victim of bullying may cause serious stress in children. With your help, it can be an experience with a positive lesson. Your child can learn how to turn a bad situation into an opportunity. The child can discover that his or her worth doesn’t depend on what others say. And you can show your child that you will always be there to support him or her.
  8. Consider seeking the support of a counselor. Particularly if the bullying (and its effects) are more severe, seeking the help of an experienced child counselor or therapist can help address emotional concerns and point you and your child toward appropriate remedies.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Mark Loewen, LPC, therapist in Richmond, Virginia

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Molly

    August 11th, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    The one thing that I would say that you have to be careful about though is making sure that by helping you are not actually taking that power away from your child.

    Help them to see that you want to help, but not to solve the problems for them. I think that it is better if there is a way that you can jump in and protect them but still give them the power to make their decisions and take care of business.

    If you do it then that makes the bully have even less respect for them and will make it even more likely that they will con tinue to pick on them if they think that someone else always has to step in and do their dirty work for them.

  • Meredith

    August 11th, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    I remember one year when I was the victim my mom made sure that she stayed on top of things by talking with the teachers, the other parents, the counselors. You name it, she talked to them and made sure that everyone knew what was going on. I amy not have liked it too much then but I sure am glad now that hse did because knowing that she had my back gave me the strength to know that I could fight these mean girls and kill them with kindness.

  • Mark Loewen, LPC

    Mark Loewen, LPC

    August 11th, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    You are right, Molly! This post addresses some things the parent can do. But I think there is more to say about how to allow your child to process it, problem solve together, and empower them to take steps to stop bullying.

  • Liana L

    August 12th, 2014 at 4:39 AM

    Great article with useful tips to help parents and kids openly communicate about bullying!

  • Glenn

    August 12th, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    The best thing that we as parents can give our child is self confidence and self esteem. This is all about telling what their strengths are and giving them ways everyday to nurture those strengths and abilities. I think that when you show your kids the numerous ways that they can shine then they remember that and it becomes so much more difficult for the words of these bullies to impact them in such a troubling way. I know that we can’t walk through life protecvting them from everything but this can be a smart move from the get go, and something to begin working with them on and cultivating from a very early age.

  • Aimee

    August 12th, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    BE A STRONG PRESENCE IN THEIR LIVES AND MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE AT SCHOOL KNOWS IT!

  • syd

    August 13th, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    I know that I want to do everything that I can to make sure that my child is safe at school, but I also know that there has to come a time when you let them solve their own problems too.
    This is a difficult thing for any of us to do, to take that step back and let them solve something for themselves, and if it is not really bullying but just a small disagreement then then I think that it is fine to get out of it and let the kids work it out on their own. When they see that they can be problem solvers then when the time comes that they really do have to be a true problem solver, then they will be able to do it.

  • dd

    September 28th, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    My son was bullied, but I discovered it was the teacher who was mistreating him, and basically giving all the other kids in class permission to bully him in the process. Undermined my child’s self confidence. He is still getting over it 9 years later.

  • Jan

    February 28th, 2015 at 6:26 AM

    Giving children the tools to deal with bullies empowers them to have some control over the situation. It is a valuable lifeskill. There are bullies in the workplace as well, and many times they’re the one who are promoted, unfortunately. They continue this behavior because it works and it’s often seen as a strength in getting things done.

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