When should you step in?

School just started and your child is already having an issue with another kid. Bullying, teasing, harassing — call it what you like, it’s someone being mean. Is your philosophy to step in right away or wait to see if the problem works out on its own? It’s tough to know when to get involved, but positive communication is a good place to start.

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Communicate with your kids. Talk about bullying before it happens. Your child might fear retribution if they “tattle”, so keeping quiet could be their solution and make matters worse. Restore confidence by offering helpful solutions and tactfully stepping in further, if necessary.

Tolerance is key. Remind kids to be understanding and accepting of everyone. The kid at school who doesn’t wear the right clothes or act a certain way doesn’t make them inferior. Kids learn by watching us, so set a good example and be kind to everyone who crosses your path.

Quality time. Spend some alone time with your child if you think they might need to open up to you. They could be worried about discussing their issue in front of the whole family, but would feel more comfortable one-on-one. A little support can go a long way.

Second set of eyes. If your child is being bothered at school, ask a teacher or counselor to keep an eye out during the day. Kids feel better knowing a trusted adult is watching out for them and they don’t have to go it alone.

Here are a few good resources to help parents deal with bullying:

What parents can do from the National Crime Prevention Council

How to talk about bullying from Stop Bullying

Helping bullied kids from Help Guide

Respect and acceptance are essential habits in life. Being different is what makes the world go ’round!