Parenting Tip of the Week – Talking to Children about Bullying

Back-to-School season is an exciting time for kids. A new year means new classrooms, teachers, friends and possibilities. Unfortunately, it can also mean new and different ways for kids to experience bullying. As a parent, you can help prevent bullying by having open communication with your children about school. The more you are able to talk with your children about what’s going on at school, the better you can help them understand what bullying looks like and some appropriate ways that they can react when they witness or hear about bullying.

Communication is essential to preventing bullying

Begin by asking the right questions. Rather than asking, “How was your day” which usually leads to “good” or “ok,” consider asking questions that encourage a longer conversation. Some examples include:

  • What did you do at recess today? Who did you play with?
  • What was the best thing that happened today?
  • Does anyone in your class seem to be having a hard time?
  • Did anyone make you feel good / bad today? How?

Knowing the right time and place to talk is also important. For young children, after school snack or dinnertime offers a chance for meaningful communication and gives children an opportunity to share while they are also focused on eating. As they get older, car rides offer a great opportunity for talking with your child, as teens feel less threatened having personal conversations when their parents are not looking directly at them.

For some other ideas on how to talk to your kids about bullying, check out this page from StopBullying.gov.

What to do if your child tells you they’re being bullied…

If your child discloses that they are being bullied, make sure they understand that it is NOT their fault. Reassure them that they did the right thing by telling you. Help them find ways to handle it by confirming the circumstances:

  • Has your child experienced problems with those involved before?
  • Did those involved have power over your child either in strength, popularity or perception?
  • Did other children observe the conflict or did it happen in private?

Once you understand the facts, tell the teacher or principal who can monitor the situation and prevent further incidents.

If your child discloses that there is someone else they know who is being bullied, once again be sure to tell a teacher or principal about the situation. If your child wants to do something to help, you can encourage them to become an “upstander” and follow some of these tips to safely and appropriately intervene in a bullying situation.

How have you talked about bullying with your children? Tweet us @PCAAmerica or leave a comment on our Facebook page and share your own parenting tips with the world.