This is the first installment written mainly for parents who are getting their youngsters ready for school, especially grade school and middle school.  And this is about something that we all have probably experienced at least once in our life: being bullied.  Hopefully, this will help you get your child/children ready for one of life’s most unpleasant experiences.  (This is also good advice that we all should follow.)

Bullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly.  It can be physical, verbal, or social.  It can happen on the playground, at school, on the school bus, on the playground, in the neighborhood, or over the Internet. 

When You Child is Bullied:

Help your child learn how to respond by teaching him/her how to:

  • Walk away.
  • Look the bully in the eye.
  • Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
  • Say, “I don’t like what you are doing.”
  • Do not talk to me like that.
  • Teach your child when and how to ask for help.
  • Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
  • Support activities that interest your child.
  • Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
  • Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there. 

When Your Child is the Bully:

  • Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
  • Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
  • Be a positive role model.  Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
  • Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
  • Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the children your child has bullied. 

When Your Child is a Bystander:

  • Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
  • Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
  • Help your child support other children who may be bullied.  Encourage your child to include these children in activities.
  • Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop. 

This is a very important part of your child’s upbringing.  Too many times we stand by and fail to stand up for someone who is being picked on.  Your children will turn out to be stronger grown-ups someday, if they are taught to respect every one, despite their differences.   One of the key things we worry about is the safety of our children.  If they know how to handle being bullied, it will be a big help, as things sometimes may get out of hand.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics