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Bullying: How Parents Can Help

What is bullying? You may think it’s isolated and easy to spot. But, you’d probably be surprised to find out that two of out every three teens is physically or verbally harassed every year. To make matters worse, the exponential growth of social networking has provided….

Help kids understand bullying
The more kids know about bullying, the easier it will be for them to identify and stand up to it. Talk to your child about how to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help. Encourage your child to talk to a trusted adult if they are being bullied or witness someone else being bullied. The adult may not be able to fully solve the problem, but they can offer comfort, support and advice. Teach your child how to use humor in order to stand up to bullies and urge them to be kind to other kids that are being bullied.

Keep the lines of communication open
Even though it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, research shows that children actually do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Taking 15 minutes each day to talk to your kids can help reassure them that they can come to you when they have problems. Here are some good conversation starters that can give you insights about possible bullying activities and can help your child express his/her feelings:

  • What was one good thing that happened today? Any bad things?
  • What is lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? What do you talk about?
  • What is it like to ride the school bus?
  • What are you good at? What do you like best about yourself?

These questions are a good means to indirectly learn if your child is bullying or being bullied, but be sure to find time to talk directly about bullying as well. Encourage your child to talk openly and honestly about bullying and reassure him/her that you are there to help address problems that may arise. You can use the questions below as conversations starters in order to understand how possible bullying situations may be affecting your child.

  • What does “bullying” mean to you?
  • Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
  • Who are the adults you trust the most when it comes to things like bullying?
  • Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
  • What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
  • Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
  • What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
  • Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
  • Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?

Encourage kids to do what they love
Do what you can to help kids participate in the activities, interests and hobbies they like. Joining sports teams, school clubs or church groups are great ways for kids to have fun and meet other kids that share the same interests. They’ll build confidence and friendships that will help protect them from bullying.

Be a role model for your child
Kids learn from adults, and they are constantly watching. If you treat others with kindness and respect, you are showing them that bullying is not acceptable. Even if it seems like kids are not paying attention, they watch adults to see how they handle conflict with others, and how they treat friends, coworkers and relatives.

For more information about bullying and tips for talking to your kids, visit

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