The Smart Way to Talk to Teachers

Bullying

The teacher says: "Your child is bullying another kid."

The right response: Find out how severe the harassment is. Did it happen once -- maybe a classmate pressured your daughter to hit another child and now she feels bad about doing it? Or has she been repeatedly taunting another classmate by calling her names or hurting her physically?

Creating a plan: If it was one incident and your child feels bad about it, talk about what caused her to behave so badly and have her apologize to the other child. If a friend told her to do it, discuss the dangers of peer pressure. "Role-playing is helpful here because kids think it's fun," says Dr. Fish. "Let your child say, 'I dare you to hit that girl on the head.' Then you can model a good response, such as 'I don't like getting hit, and I don't hit other people. It's not funny.' Then switch roles and have her give a response."

However, if the bullying has been part of a pattern of aggressive behavior, speak to the school psychologist or an outside counselor to see what's triggering it.

Following up: Check in regularly with the teacher. If your child's still struggling, continue counseling or ask whether the school offers services that help kids improve their social skills.

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