Tips for Parents
What if your child tells you that he or she is being bullied?
Be calm, rational and above all, listen. Provide your child with an opportunity to tell their story or experience. Keep in mind that it may be difficult for them to share their story, so listen carefully and try to gather and organize details.
It's helpful to ask open-ended, indirect questions to get the conversation started such as "How was your bus ride?", "Who do you sit with at lunch?", or "Do children at your school make fun of others? What do you think about that?" Remember not to blame your child for what has happened. Always encourage your child to tell an adult if they feel unsafe at school.
Share your concerns immediately with your child's teacher, counselor or building administrator. Ask about your child's relationships with other students. Ask the teacher to check in with other staff members (e.g., special area or elective teachers) to see if they have noticed any bullying behaviors. Let them know you are there to support your child. Work with school staff to develop a plan to help your child feel safe at school. Follow up with staff in a few weeks to determine progress.
What if your child engages in bullying others?
Be calm, rational and remember to listen. Provide your child with an opportunity to talk about his or her experiences and feelings. Engage your child in open, non-judgmental discussion around why he or she is behaving in a manner that is harmful to others. Below are a few considerations:
- Teach your child to accept responsibility for their behavior. Do not allow them to explain their behaviors away.
- Tell them that this type of behavior is unacceptable. Set limits and enforce them with consistent consequences. Teach them alternative behaviors.
- Help them to understand the feelings of others. Activities such as community service projects may be helpful.
- Ask the school counselor for assistance. Set realistic goals to change behavior over time.