It’s heartbreaking to hear your kid tell you they’re being bullied. Or maybe they don’t even tell you; instead, you start to notice they’re avoiding school, complaining of headaches or stomachaches, losing their appetite, not sleeping well, wetting the bed, having more frequent meltdowns and/or otherwise acting odd — and you finally figure out why. As upset as you probably feel, try to stay calm for your kid so you can help them. Here’s how.


Ask what happened.

And listen without judgment. Don’t say “What did you do to make them act that way?” That signals to your child that the bullying is their fault, even if (as is often the case) they’ve done nothing to provoke it. And instead of telling them to ignore the bully — which signals to your child that that’s what you’re going to do — be empathetic. Let them know they can always talk to you and that you’ll always be there to help them.


Talk to the teacher.

If this is a recurring issue, make an appointment to talk to your child’s teacher about it. Bullies typically operate under the radar, so teachers may not realize what’s going on until you tell them. Once they’re in the loop, they can look out for your kid, share any relevant school policies with you, and keep you posted on what’s going on with your child when you’re not around.


Brainstorm with your child about how to respond.

Involving your kid in coming up with a solution may help them feel empowered rather than helpless.  


Role-play with them.

Teach them to look the bully in the eye and loudly say “I don’t like that, stop doing that now!”, then walk away to tell an adult. Practice this at home so they’re ready next time it happens elsewhere.


Tell them to stick with friends.

There’s safety in numbers, so teach them to buddy up when they’re in settings where they often get bullied. Bullies aren’t likely to target someone unless they’re alone.


Encourage friendships and hobbies.

Help your kid feel good about themselves, despite being bullied, by giving them opportunities to feel validated. Invite other kids over for play dates and help your child pursue their talents and interests.


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