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What to Do if Your Child is Being Bullied

Bullies have become an everyday part of our kids’ lives. In person or online, they are threatening kids and causing fear even when they are not in the same room. If we are going to help it is critical that we recognize the signs in our kids and know what to do if your child is becoming the victim of a bully.

Dr. Michele Borba offers these helpful tips:

  1. Believe your child. Take his complaints seriously. Don’t overreact:  listen calmly and encourage him to tell you if it continues.

  2. Don’t blame your child and explain he’s not alone. Tell him one out of seven kids is bullied these days.

  3. Gather facts. Find out who was involved, when and where it happened, how often it happens, and how your child responded to the bully. It will help you determine the problem’s severity.

  4. Teach bully-proofing skills. Bullies rarely just go away; kids need to learn ways to deal with them and stop their abuse. Coach a few assertive strategies to your child to empower her to handle the bully.

  5. Build her self-esteem. Find positive outlets to nurture her self-confidence such as a new friend, martial arts, or a team sport.

  6. Urge him to stay with others. There is greater safety in numbers: bullies usually pick on single kids. So tell her to head for a crowd.

  7. Tell her to stay calm. This is hard but bullies love power. When a victim looks upset, it fuels the bully even more.

  8. Avoid the bully. Bullies usually work in unsupervised spots: help your child find ways to avoid the location.

  9. Don’t tell her to fight back. Experts say it is unwise: your child could be seriously hurt.

  10. Don’t promise to keep it a secret. Explain you may need to report the bully and get help him help.

  11. Reflect on your child’s behavior. Is he doing something that might encourage a bully to pick on him? Do you need to help him change a behavior and learn a more acceptable one?

  12. Don’t make her assume all the responsibility for stopping the bully. In some situations adult intervention is the only way to stop bullying any you might need to do so. Seek the perspective of other adults and ask the teacher for help if it’s happening at school.

Sign That Your Child May Be Being Bullied:

  1. Acting moody, sullen or withdrawn

  2. Not wanting to go to school; developing real or imaginary physical symptoms to avoid attending.

  3. Becoming depressed

  4. Losing interest in school work

  5. Losing appetite and having difficulty getting to sleep

  6. Waiting to use the bathroom at home

  7. Arriving home with torn clothes or bruises

  8. Asking for extra money for school lunch or supplies

  9. Wanting to carry some form of protection

Dr. Michele Borba is an educational consultant and author who has conducted parent and teacher seminars to over half a million participants. Information on her publications and seminars can be found at www.micheleborba.com.

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