Being bullied can be one of the most traumatic things a child can experience. It can lead to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, lowered grades, poor behavior, and unfortunately, even suicide. It is important to talk to your child early about bullying. Many children will experience it, and knowing how to respond is crucial. Even if your child never becomes the target of bullies, it is important to teach him or her to become and anti-bullying advocate. Here are a few ways you can address bullying with your child:

 

Teach respect early.

Even very young children should be taught to have respect for the people around them. Begin teaching your child early that everyone deserves basic respect. If you child notices differences in others, explain that everyone is different, and those differences need to be respected. Ask your child to think of ways in which he or she is different from his or her peers. If your child can learn to appreciate diversity early on, he or she will be less likely to become a bully, accept bullying from others, or stand by while someone else is being bullied.

 

Teach your child ways to respond to bullying.

Many children are caught off guard by bullying. They respond by crying, lashing out, or in some other way that can get them in trouble or further humiliate them. Let your child know that most bullies are just insecure themselves and seeking some sort of reaction. Teach your child to remain calm and possibly even laugh the bully off. You could even roleplay with your child to help him or her become comfortable responding to tough situations.

 

Make sure your child knows who to go to for help.

Even if your child responds in a calm and confident manner, he or she could still be at risk for bullying. Make sure your child knows who to go to if a bully is aggressive and persistent. Make sure they know that they can talk to you, their teacher, or another trusted adult for help in dealing with the situation. Isolation when dealing with a threatening situation is extremely detrimental for emotional health, so make sure your child knows he or she has a solid support system. Many schools now have anti-bullying initiatives, which can offer even more places to get support.

 

Help your child become an ally.

Even if your child is lucky enough to never be seriously bullied, the chances are that he or she will witness a situation where someone else is. Teach your child that he or she can help someone who is being bullied by simply offering support. They can invite the bullied child to eat or play a game with them. Simple gestures like this can help a child who is being bullied feel less alone. Make sure your child also knows that he or she can get adult intervention in a situation where another child seems to be at risk of physical or mental harm.

 

These are just a few ways that you can equip your child to deal with bullying. Remember to always listen and be a safe place for your child. If they ever are bullied or witness someone else being bullied, you want them to be able to come to you without hesitation.

 

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