How to Help Your Child With Bullying in School

Bullying in school can be very traumatic for children, young or old, and as parents it’s your responsibility to help your child through what can be a very tough time. Here are some things that parents can do to help their child with bullying problems.

1. Differentiating Bullying from Mild Teasing

Every child will be teased at some point growing up, and every child will tease their peers at some point growing up. While mild teasing can hurt your child’s feelings in the moment, there is a huge difference between mild teasing and persistent bullying. Teasing is usually received from your child’s friends and is usually given out in a playful or friendly manner. This kind of teasing can occasionally cross the line by accident, but it isn’t intended to be malicious.

Bullying on the other hand usually occurs from someone outside of your child’s friend group. It’s usually consistent and persistent, and engaged in solely to make your child feel bad. While teasing can make your child feel badly in the moment, bullying will develop debilitating mental and physical strain in your child. It’s important that you teach you recognize the difference between the two and that you teach your child the difference between the two, as bullying and teasing require different responses.

2. Teach Your Child How to Avoid Being a Target

Bullies don’t usually choose their targets at random, rather they choose the kids who they consider to be weaker than them. While we often think that bullies choose the physically weakest kids at their school this isn’t always the case. More often than not bullies choose to pick on kids who project an attitude of weakness. This attitude is usually displayed through a lack of personal confidence, poor and stopped posture, avoiding eye contact, looking anxious and hurried all the time, being unsocial and not being friendly. In general, bullies pick on kids that are isolated, and kids usually tend to isolate themselves with their attitude.

Teaching your child to project confidence, to sit and stand with firm posture, to look everyone in the eye, to be open and friendly and to have a large social group is one of the best ways to prevent them from becoming easy and obvious targets for bullies.

3. Teaching Non-Physical Responses to Bullying First

If your child has already been targeted by a bully or by multiple bullies than they need to learn how to respond to this abuse. The first way to fight bullying is to avoid the bully. Avoidance isn’t always possible, especially in cases where your child’s bully is in their classes. But if there is a bully that always hangs out somewhere your child doesn’t need to be, the easiest way to prevent bullying is to have your child avoid that place.

If your child can’t avoid the bully then they need to learn how to assert themselves in a non-physical manner. A child’s voice is the first way they can defend themselves by telling their bully to stop in a strong and clear manner. By asserting themselves with their voice, your child both lets the bully know that they aren’t going to passively accept abuse. Vocalizing resistance is also a way of accumulating social support, as other children might join in letting the bully know that what they’re doing isn’t acceptable or cool.

4. Teaching Physical Responses to Bullying

While there are some well-meaning individuals who argue that your child should never physically fight back, this completely non-violent approach isn’t always effective. If your child utilizes every other method possible and isn’t able to stop their bullying than they will need to physically fight back.

While teaching proper self defense and encouraging your child to work out and become physically stronger is a good idea, your child doesn’t need to be a real physical threat to their bully to physically resist. Your child does NOT need to ‘win’ this fight to defeat their bully. Often simply showing that they are willing to fight back is enough to keep their bully away.

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