Facing Down the Bullies: 5 Ways Parents Can Help

Discovering that your beloved child is being teased, excluded, threatened, or pushed around is something every parent dreads. Unfortunately, most kids will be bullied at some point during their lives. Dr. Warren Seiler, author of Battling the Enemy Within, offers tips on helping your child move through the experience undamaged-and with his or her self-esteem and positive attitude intact.

Know the red flags to look for.
Before you can help your child deal with bullying, you've got to know that it's happening. Often, children keep bullying a secret because they're afraid or ashamed to share. However, your child's behavior will clearly show that something is wrong. If your child is being bullied, she'll be uncharacteristically negative, moody, sad, and/or angry, and she might withdraw and isolate herself from her family. If you notice these things, approach your child gently, not harshly, and take the time to patiently and lovingly get to the bottom of the situation.

Reassure him that bullying isn't forever.
When your child has been bullied by his peers, either emotionally or physically, don't downplay the situation-but make sure it doesn't become all-consuming, either. Children are less apt than adults to see the big picture and to look beyond the immediate. To them, being excluded from the lunch table really does feel like the end of the world-so reassure your child. Tell him that everything is going to be okay in his future life if he continues to be a good, kind, loving person who has empathy for the feelings and needs of others and who treats them well to the best of his ability!

Constantly reinforce her self-esteem.
Take every opportunity to tell your child how unique, valued, and special she is-and give her concrete reasons why. Whenever possible, connect your praise to achievements: "You are a hard worker: look how well all your studying paid off!" or, "You are a kind and caring person; it was so nice of you to make that birthday card for our sick neighbor." If she has great self-esteem, she might be uncomfortable if she encounters a bully-but she won't be completely destroyed by criticism or teasing.

Ensure that he approaches conflict in a healthy way.
There's an almost 100 percent probability that at some point your child will encounter a problem, quarrel, competition, or conflict with a peer. Make sure ahead of time that he knows not to respond to aggression or to name-calling in kind, and to go to a teacher or authority figure if he is being mistreated.

Don't be afraid to advocate for your child. If your child's best efforts can't nip being bullied in the bud, it's time for you to step in so that her well-being, attitude, and education are not adversely impacted. If the bullying doesn't stop immediately, continue to make noise. However, keep in mind that despite their best efforts, many schools and staff members are simply overwhelmed by troubled children and adolescents, and they're expected to be parents and counselors instead of simply being teachers. Chances are, your child's teachers and administrators will be more than happy to work with you to ensure your child's health, happiness, and safety.

Facing Down the Bullies: 5 Ways Parents Can Help was written by Dr. Warren Seiler for Hybrid Mom.

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