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Children may not always realize that they are being bullied. They might think it is bullying only if they are being physically hurt; they might believe the other child is joking; or they may not understand the subtle social norms and cues. Children can benefit from a definition of the differences between friendly behavior and bullying behavior. The basic rule: Let children know if the behavior hurts or harms them, either emotionally or physically, it is bullying.
Parents can prepare themselves to talk with their children by considering how they are going to respond to their child’s questions and emotions. They can also decide what information they would like to give their child about bullying.
Parents should be ready to:
Questions to Ask Your Child about Bullying
Open-ended questions will help the child talk about his or her situation. Begin with questions that address the child’s environment. For example, “How was your bus ride today?” or “Have you ever seen anyone being mean to someone else on the bus?” Then move on to questions that directly affect the child such as, “Are you ever scared to get on the bus?” or “Has anyone ever been mean to you on the bus?”
If the child is talking about the situation, parents can help their child recognize bullying behavior by asking more questions such as:
For the child who is reluctant to talk about the situation, questions may include:
Reactions to Avoid
When children choose to tell their parents about bullying, parents might have one of three responses.
While these reactions express genuine caring, concern, and good intentions – and often reflect what parents were told by their own parents or other adults – they are likely to be ineffective. Parents may feel better for having taken action, but these reactions can have harmful consequences. Here’s why these responses will likely be unsuccessful:
It is important to Help Your Child Know That They Are Not Alone
Student Action Plan
Are you an educator working with a student being bullied, a parent looking for ways to help your child change their behavior, or a student who wants to take action against bullying but you aren’t sure what to do? As a student, bullying is something that impacts you, your peers, and your school – whether you’re the target of bullying, a witness, or the person who bullies. Bullying can end, but that won’t happen unless students, parents, and educators work together and take action.
The first step is to create a plan that works for you and your situation. This student action plan is an opportunity for you – either on your own or with parents and teachers – to develop a strategy to change what’s happening to you or someone else. It’s your chance to make a difference.
Advice Gone Wrong
An interactive teen perspective (written by teens for adults) on unhelpful advice from parents and educators.
Reasons Teens Don’t Tell
An interactive look, from a teen perspective, at some of the reasons students don’t talk about bullying. Meet Pete. He is a dude with a lot going on inside, and he has zeroed in on some of the reasons that students don’t tell an adult about bullying.
We Need To Talk – Video
Teens have their turn talking about what is helpful and what they want parents to know.