If Your Child Is Being Bullied

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As a parent, it is an incredibly difficult to find out that your child is being bullied. Whether you have been informed by someone else, or your child has told you themselves, it can be shocking and your parental instincts will quickly kick in. (For more detailed information, see our sections on bullying and cyber bullying).

There are several things you can do to support your child:

  • First of all, think before you react.
  • While it may be difficult, take a few deep breaths, check your emotions and consider your next steps carefully.
  • If your child has told you about the bullying themself, remember how much courage this has taken. Listen to what they are telling you without judging. Ask them to describe the bullying episodes to you, both what happened and who exactly was involved.
  • Let your child know that bullying is wrong, not their fault and you are glad that you know about it. Let them know that you are going to carefully consider what needs to be done and take their opinion into consideration. Keep them of informed of what decisions you make.
  • Don’t criticize your child for the way they handled the bullying and don’t assume that your child did something which “brought it on.”
  • If you tell your child to “ignore” the bullying, what your child may actually hear is that YOU are going to ignore it – let them know that you take it seriously.
  • Do not encourage your child to use physical retaliation – not only may this result in serious trouble for your child but is unlikely to end the problem.
  • If the bullying is happening at school, don’t contact the bully’s parents – contact the school and expect them to inform the parents of the child who is bullying.
  • Contact your child’s principal, teacher or guidance counselor about what is going on and provide them with factual information.
  • Work with the school staff to come up with a solution to benefit your child
    and help prevent other children from being bullied.
  • Check with your child regularly to make sure the bullying is not continuing and if you continue to have concerns contact the school.
  • Find ways to help your child build their self-confidence and esteem, support them in extra-curricular activities and build on their strengths.
  • Encourage your child’s healthy friendships, get to know your child’s friends and provide opportunities for your child to socialize and invite friends over.
  • Come up with a safety plan for your child to use when they feel threatened by a bully. Identify what they can do and who they can tell. Remind them that telling an adult about a bully is not the same as “tattling.”
  • If you identify a particular behavior that your child has that may have resulted them in being a target for a bully explore options for support. For example, a child who is hyperactive or overly-talkative may benefit from a social skills group.
  • Remember to take care of yourself while dealing with this situation. Talk to your own family and friends and use your support system. Keep your home safe and secure for your child and yourself, keep talking to your child and let them know they are loved.