July 02, 2015

Q: How do I help my 7-year-old not be bullied?

A: If your daughter is being bullied, she is probably helpless to fix it.  Most children who are bullied cannot make it right on their own and are dependent on the grown-ups to intervene. This is because bullying usually involves a whole situation: the bully, the victim, the witnesses, and often the adults, too. You may need to learn more about the context--does this happen at school? on the playground? with relatives? Ask questions and speak with other parents whose children might also be victimized. Tell your daughter that you will not let her be bullied.

It may be helpful to meet with the other child, the child's parents, and the teacher.  If your daughter is not being bullied, but you are concerned about the possibility in the future, the best way to protect her is to maintain an honest communication and a loving relationship with her. This way, she will develop confidence in herself and in you, too. And if she experiences a problem down the line, she will come to you because she trusts you. Trying to "teach" a child to stand up to bullying is not likely to work.

Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Berger


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