Bully-Proof Your Child: How to Deal with Bullies

The Right Steps to Deal with Bullying

Ultimately, it's up to you to help your young child deal with a bully. Be on the lookout for signs that something is bothering her, and gently encourage her to tell you about problems she's had with other kids. Then be ready to take the appropriate action.

  • Talk to your child's teacher. If the harassment is happening at preschool or kindergarten, make administrators aware of the problem right away. Many schools have a specific protocol for intervening. When you report an incident, be specific about what happened and who was involved.
  • Contact the offender's parents. This is the right approach only for persistent acts of intimidation, and when you feel these parents will be receptive to working in a cooperative manner with you. Call or e-mail them in a non-confrontational way, making it clear that your goal is to resolve the matter together. You might say something like, "I'm phoning because my daughter has come home from school feeling upset every day this week. She tells me that Suzy has called her names and excluded her from games at the playground. I don't know whether Suzy has mentioned any of this, but I'd like us to help them get along better. Do you have any suggestions?"
  • Coach him to get help. No matter how your child is being targeted, fighting back usually isn't the best solution. Rather, teach him to walk away and seek help from a teacher or a supervising adult. To avoid being harassed on the school bus, suggest that he sit next to friends, since a bully is less likely to pick on a kid in a group. But you may need to get involved. When Karin Telegadis's daughter Grace started kindergarten, she had problems with a third-grader on her bus. "He gave Grace an 'Indian sunburn' and tried to make her kiss another boy," says Telegadis, of Princeton, New Jersey. When she learned that the boy had also bothered other kids, she complained to the school and asked the bus driver to keep an eye on him. He stopped misbehaving within two weeks.

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