What to do if your child is being bullied1. Step One: What's going on?-Children tend to overuse the word "bullying" to describe many different kinds of situations. So, the first job is to determine what kind of problem your child is dealing with. Tell them you're proud and glad that they came to you; then ask your child to walk you through the incident. What happened first? What next? Who else was there? What did they do? The most important thing is for you to get details-as many details as possible. It's those details that will help you resolve this. The situation may or may not be bullying, but that's not the most important thing. The critical issue to resolve the situation-and you need those details to do that.
2. Step Two: Working with your child's school
-Approach your child's school calmly, with as many facts as possible. Here are a few tips to make the conversation go better:-Consider going in person. Phone and email contact is often not as effective.-Stay calm and listen to what the educator or administrator tells you. Don't assume they have all the same facts that you have.-It's not often that administrators can truly make a bullying situation vanish overnight-but they can immediately work to help your child feel more supportedand safer.-Never assume you know everything about what's going on, and never assume your child is telling you the 100% truth. It is normal for children for children totell small lies to their parents, if it means they will avoid getting in trouble. We also all misremember things at times.-Never over-focus on whether or not the situation is truly "bullying." Focus instead on how to resolve it successfully.
3. Step Three: Some tips to help
-Stay calm; losing your temper will not help your child feel safer.-Remember that the school cannot tell you anything about another child-even a bully-so don't expect to get information about what happens to the child who isexhibiting the bullying behavior. They cannot tell you.-When you end a conversation, be sure to ask, "when will we speak next to check in about the situation?" Make sure you get an answer.-Always ask your child if any part of the bullying is happening online or through texting. Research shows that the older the kids are, the more common thatis.-REMEMBER: Children (and adults) will always have to cope with some cruelty in their lives. The real trick is to make your child better able to cope withcruelty and thus, they'll be much less affected by it. They key to making kids better able to cope socially is to play up their strengths. Make sure your child haslots of chances to play with friends they like. Praise and reward them for their skills and strengths. And above all, make sure you have some fun family time-it's in those relationships that they'll find their strengths.Information is from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. www.elizabethenglander.com