If you feel your child is being bullied or suspect there's a problem at school, you can help by taking these steps:
1. Listen to your child. Encourage her to talk about school, social events, other kids in class, and the walk or bus ride to and from school.
2. Take her complaints seriously. Children often are afraid or ashamed to tell anyone about their problem, so listen carefully. Probing a seemingly minor complaint can sometimes uncover a bigger problem.
3. Communicate with the school. If you think your child is having a problem, contact her teacher or school principal. Tell school officials when and where your child is being bullied, and ask them to supervise these areas.
4. Team up with other parents. Work together to make sure that the children in your neighborhood are supervised closely on their way to and from school.
5. Help your child learn social skills. A confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be bullied or to bully others. Encourage your child to have play dates with kids at school, or help him make friends with other children through Scouts, clubs, religious groups, etc.
6. Help your child develop a new hobby or skill. Learning something new and enjoyable might help your child feel good about herself, carry herself with more confidence, and even develop new friends.
7. Teach your child how to protect himself. Show him how to walk confidently, stay alert to what's going on around him, and stand up for himself verbally. You can also role-play certain situations and have your child practice different responses.
8. Take a look at your child. Ask yourself whether your child is doing or wearing something that is encouraging mistreatment. Even though no child deserves to be bullied, sometimes small changes in behavior or attire can help him fit in.
9. Talk to your child. Provide everyday opportunities for children to talk about bullying, perhaps when watching TV together, reading aloud, playing a game, or going out to the park. Try always to keep open the lines of communication with your kids, says Swearer.
Sources: Susan M. Swearer, PhD; Allan L. Beane, PhD; National Crime Prevention Council; American Medical Association; Coalition for Children, Inc.
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.