girl bully

6 Tips to Help Kids With Bullying

"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." -Epictetus  

In a perfect world, children would grow up without the experience of encountering bullies. The detrimental effects on a child's self-esteem can be devastating. Being subjected to relentless taunting and teasing can be insufferable for kids struggling to make friends. As parents, teachers, and caregivers, there are things we can do to coach a child through a bullying event. The end goal is for the child to come out on the other side of the experience stronger, more empathic, and better prepared to handle the next social challenge that will inevitably occur. In addition to reading children's books about bullying, here are some other tactics to try.


kid being bullied


How to Help Your Child With Bullies

Listen Openly and Without Emotion

It's important for your child to be able to speak freely about the bully's behavior to a neutral audience. As a parent, it is natural for you to feel angry and upset about the situation.  Keep in mind that your child will be watching you for cues, so try not to project your feelings as they will only serve to exacerbate the situation.

parent listening to child


Support Your Child Unconditionally
Now more than ever, your child needs your unconditional love. No matter how unstable the social environment at school, children need to know that their family will have their back no matter what. Reaffirm to your children that the bullying is not their fault.

mother hugging son

Give Your Child Tools and Strategies 

A child can't control a bully's behavior, but how he or she responds to it is another thing. Sometimes simply ignoring the bully does the trick. But other times, a child needs some other strategies to cope, like taking measures to avoid the bully if possible. Also, coaching a child about their own emotional reaction to a bully's antics may help to dissipate the situation.

mother with child


Notify a Child's Teacher and the School Principal
Schools have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Sometimes the best tactic is to nip the behavior in the bud by getting administrators involved. It's natural to want to teach your child how to handle a bully on their own.  But this may not be possible and the emotional damage due to prolonged bullying may can be too high a price to pay.

teacher helping student

Be Careful About Notifying the Bully's Parents
If you know the parents of the bully and can trust that they will handle the situation appropriately, then by all means reach out to them. But don't assume that all parents will respond in a helpful manner. You may encounter defensiveness and denial which could end up making the situation worse for your child. Also, often these conversations can turn where the parents of the bully may accuse your child of the poor behavior instead.

women talking

Give Your Child's Social Life a Boost
Having a strong support group of friends is probably the single best defense against a bully. Go out of your way to provide extra social opportunities for your child, especially when relationships are not formed on their own. Host a small party, invite some classmates for a sleepover, take a couple of friends to the movies, etc.  Allowing your child to bond with friends outside of a school setting can help tremendously. Also, consider adding some kids' books about feeling left out that help young readers deal with the emotional turmoil associated with being excluded.


no bullying sign


Books That Help With Behavioral Problems

Picture Books About Hitting Others

Stories That Address Telling the Truth

Helping Kids Manage Anger

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