, Salem, MA


August 2, 2013

Dr. Kate: 10 tips for helping your child deal with bullies


Speak up and speak out. If the bully follows your child, confronts him or pokes him, coach your child to say with a firm voice “STOP!” or “KNOCK IT OFF!” This demonstrates that he is able to defend himself against the behavior he does not like and inform others without being a direct tattletale. Find opportunities in your home or with friends to have your child practice these skills in real life.

Use technology during practice sessions. There’s a difference between commanding the word “STOP!” and whining or pleading. Practice using your child’s recorded voice so he can hear the strength of it and get used to using it. You can also record the role-play simulations on video so your child can view his posture and positive stance.

Educate your child on name-calling. Name-calling is not something that needs to devastate him or make him afraid. Name-calling is just a way for the bully to intimidate and show power. It’s nothing to be afraid of, and it shouldn’t shake their confidence.

Get rid of old negativity. As part of developing a new persona, have your child rid himself of old negativity and gain a sense of power and control. Have him write the names of the children who have bullied him and together flush them down the toilet or burn them in a fire.

Encourage your child to walk in groups of peers. Bullies are less likely to confront a potential victim in a group setting. It’s helpful for your child to be with others and not necessarily just close friends. Whenever possible, educate your child’s peers and friends about how to handle a bully situation, even if they’re not the target.

Always inform the school of the bullying. Talk to the school staff about your child’s fears and his desire to display a more assertive and confident posture in response to the bully and ask the staff for ways they can support him. For example, ask if he can be with a friend at all times during the start of the school year, so that his new responses can be delivered with a supportive friend nearby.

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