Worst-Case Scenarios: Classroom Edition

The classroom bully has been targeting your child.

Bullying is one of moms' top back-to-school concerns, according to a recent Parents-Lands' End survey. But before you call the school and label another child a "bully," remember that it's like saying "bomb" in an airport. The word is taken seriously -- as it should be -- which is why you need to do your due diligence first. "We define bullying as repeated offenses committed by one child toward another, where there is an unequal balance of power and no reason for it," says Leef. Bullying is one child intimidating another, either physically, mentally, or both.

Keep in mind that if your kid has ongoing conflict with a classmate because they're both competitive in gym class or have headstrong personalities, it's not bullying. (You can help them get along by asking the school counselor to hold mediation sessions between them until the issue is resolved.) A good litmus test for identifying bullying: Ask your child if he feels okay talking to the classmate, says Leef. "If he says, 'Yes, I do,' it's not bullying. With bullying, there's a clear fear factor. He'd be worried about interacting with the bully."

In cases of bullying, a school administrator will likely decide how to discipline the aggressor -- and protect your child. To help keep your kid from becoming a bullying victim in the first place, empower him by teaching him assertive body language and words, says Micucci. Role-play, having him practice standing tall, crossing his arms and saying, "Stop. You're not allowed to do that," before going and finding a grown-up.

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