How to Support a Bullied Child

If you have a small child that’s being bullied, there’s a high chance you’ve experienced them bursting through the front door crying that a fellow camper or classmate has bullied them. You probably get sad, and then your protective instincts kick in, and you start thinking of how to retaliate.

Pause for a second at that moment and remember all your child needs at that time is you. As a parent, you need to know you can’t ensure your child never crosses paths with a bully in their lives. What you can do is show them how to manage this situation themselves effectively.

Validation first

Validate first before you start thinking of doing anything else. When you validate your child, you acknowledge how they’re feeling without disagreeing or agreeing with what they’re going through emotionally. Validating them tells them you’re hearing them. It helps the child’s distress feel less intense and allows both of you to talk more.

Acknowledge that the experience made your kid worried, sad, mad, or whatever they may be feeling, depending on how they choose to react. Yes, you may be aching to make the pain disappear, but you have to show them that emotions are not bad but good.

Teach them anti-bullying tools  

After you’ve validated what the child has gone through, let them know how proud you are for telling them what happened. Doing this will help reinforce that it’s important to tell an adult about things like this and that it is okay to express your feelings. Next, ask them whether they feel like talking about it. If they can, the first thing you should tell them is to ignore the bully and not give them the reaction they’re seeking. However, tell them to walk away and find an adult when a bully is physical.

Practice makes progress

Help your child practice the things you’ve taught them so they can be comfortable using these teachings when the time comes. For example, if your child is young, you can use puppets, action figures, or dolls to show how they can ignore a bully and not give them attention. This is one of the best ways to start.

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